First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ory Zik: Everyone is healthy – thank you for asking. The ‘micro’ is great, but the ‘macro’ is very concerning.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Qnergy
Ory Zik: I am the CEO at Qnergy, the world-leading manufacturer of clean energy solutions based on the Stirling engine. Prior to Qnergy, I was the founding CEO of a few clean energy and technology companies. The list includes Energy Points, a developer of a unified metric for energy, carbon, and water; Solar energy company HelioFocus, which used concentrated solar power to replace fossil fuels in conventional power plants, and imaging company QuantomiX, the first to image fully hydrated cells and tissues in an electron microscope.
Qnergy is the first company where I am not the founder. The company relies on decades and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in technology development. I have joined to help land it on a successful commercial path.
How does Qnergy innovate?
Ory Zik: We have an interdisciplinary, multicultural mix of mechanical, thermal, and electrical engineers. Culturally we have engineers from Israel and the U.S. all this creates a strong cross-pollination and a very innovative environment. Qnergy sells reliability. Innovation is only valued if it can sustain hundreds of thousands of hours of operation in harsh environmental conditions. Our company keeps improving efficiency and functionality while reducing costs.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ory Zik: Orders slowed down in Q1 and Q2 of this year and are now bouncing back. We have taken a ‘team’ approach. We have reduced expenses to a ‘survival mode,’ including salary reduction. Now we see the benefits. The team remained in-tact and is as cohesive and effective as before, even more. Qnergy’s key asset is the outstanding team.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ory Zik: As said, there were tough choices to keep the team in-tact in the face of declining revenue. The key lesson learned is transparency 360 with the team, customers, and suppliers. This approach allowed us to cross the crisis (hopefully it is indeed behind us) and thrive. We now see signs of recovery and intend to go to the same growth mode as before. To the extent possible, we have kept innovating and launching products during the crisis.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Qnergy in the future?
Ory Zik: Stress and anxiety are the lifeblood of emerging technology companies. Qnergy is a marathon run to success. As we deploy systems, we reduce our costs and address additional opportunities. There is a vast market for the world’s most reliable power generator. For us, the key is to address opportunities strategically while building customer loyalty.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ory Zik: Our competitors are conventional power generators. They have been around for many decades. They are noisy, polluting, and unreliable. But also cheap. Qnergy is fuel agnostic (we can use any source of heat as fuel) and essentially maintenance-free. We focus on markets willing to pay a premium for our superior performance and gradually decrease our cost and expand.
Your final thoughts
Ory Zik: We have just launched a new product CAaaS (Compressed Air as a Service), a novel way to allow gas companies to reduce methane emissions without capital expenditure. Check it out: https://www.qnergy.com/compressed-air-as-a-service-caaas/ It leverages our reliability in a way that one may not expect.
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