First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Hetal Parekh: These have been truly testing times for everyone! Luckily everyone’s healthy, safe, staying indoors, and adjusting to the new normal!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded EnerYields.
Hetal Parekh: I am an architect with a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in Building Performance & Diagnostics. As an energy efficiency enthusiast, my Ph.D. research focused on policy that can help commercial buildings uptake energy upgrades. Through my interactions with multiple industry players, I identified inefficiencies and revenue loss due to data disparity in this sector. The commercial real estate retrofit sector is plagued with data-disparity, resulting in 80% untapped energy savings in commercial properties. This, combined with a widespread policy push towards energy efficiency and greenhouse-gas reduction by commercial building, set the stage for EnerYields. With a goal to overcome these barriers and help commercial buildings achieve energy efficiency, I began developing a holistic solution adopting technology to centralize information, simplify access, and develop a marketplace for the CRE retrofit industry.
How does EnerYields innovate?
Hetal Parekh: We realize that finding and availing green incentives and financing can be a cumbersome process for most – our platform makes the search simple, easy, fast, and free; and our specialized advisors guide owners and developers through the process and devise the right, data-backed financing strategy to match their needs.
EnerYields helps CRE owners and developers access understand and avail green incentives and financing from both public and private sectors. Our platform is powered by a comprehensive database maintained through expansive, ongoing research. Our users always have the most up-to-date, concise, and accurate information at their fingertips.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Hetal Parekh: Pandemic slowed down a lot of new construction and upgrade activity. Further, work-from-home and online shopping have resulted in higher unoccupancy and vacancy in commercial real estate. But on the flip-side, as businesses gradually start reopening, they seek avenues for savings and rebates to make their HVAC systems compliant for healthy indoor air quality. This has led to a surge in interest for green incentives and retrofit financing. And the company has been working hard on automating the customer experience on our web-platform.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Hetal Parekh: We are a small team. Luckily we didn’t have to deal with downsizing or laying off staff. However, starting off in the midst of the pandemic was a unique challenge in itself. Both customer acquisitions and networking has been tricky due to lockdown and risks involved with travel for on-site, in-person meetings. We tweaked our services and devised new methods for virtual project assessment and customer acquisition. EnerYields has managed to stay afloat and grow through the pandemic.
Learning from other entrepreneurs who’ve been through similar challenges, tuning in to podcasts, and reading has been vital in motivating me to step out of my comfort zone and overcoming hurdles posed by the pandemic.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and EnerYields in the future?
Hetal Parekh: Indoor gardening has been my meditative escape through challenging times!
I am transitioning from a specialist to a generalist familiar with all aspects of the business – technology, business model, sales, marketing, data collection, and legal. I’ve been familiarizing myself with these skillsets while also interacting with specialists for guidance on these topics. I’m confident that if these responsibilities are handled with a duty of care in the initial years of the company’s growth, its future will be one of growth.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Hetal Parekh: The industry is young and still innovating. The best strategy to stay in the game is to provide unmatched value to clients and maximize their savings per property.
Your final thoughts?
Hetal Parekh: I’m glad to see a shift towards healthy and energy-efficient indoor spaces. People should be aware that making these changes does not have to burn a hole in your pocket! I am happy to help you identify a cost-effective way of going green.