Dr. Hetal Parekh (WELL AP) is a Building Energy Scientist by qualification (PhD in Building Performance and Diagnostics from Carnegie Mellon University), and an energy efficiency enthusiast with domain expertise on building energy efficiency policy. Over the last 7 years, she has worked on several projects focused on promoting energy efficiency in buildings. She is the founder of EnerYields, a venture focused on connecting commercial property owners with resources and financing to reduce energy use by 30% and improve project profitability.
Where did the idea for EnerYields come from?
I discovered the need for EnerYields during the course of my PhD at Carnegie Mellon, which was focused on identifying policy to catalyze green investments in commercial properties. Through interactions with numerous stakeholders, I found that access to financing was one of the biggest hurdles. Green incentives weren’t getting used because they were hard to find, and even harder to understand. Following validation from the industry for my research, I began building what is EnerYields today- to democratize ‘going green’ by improving access to information.
EnerYields simplifies and standardizes green incentives and financing data and makes it available to all buildings. We help owners find the money that’s available to them, and then help them get the money they’ve found. All this is powered by our unique, comprehensive database housing green incentives and financing worth hundreds of millions, across both private, as well as the public sector.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The typical day doesn’t really exist. I try to take each day as it comes – usually spending a few minutes each morning identifying the to-dos for the day. I usually end my day by spending time with my family and loved ones – and typically read a few pages of a book before I end the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Like any other entrepreneur, my best ideas stem from things and processes that feel frustratingly inefficient, that leave me feeling ‘there’s got to be a better way!’. Once I identify an idea worth pursuing, I stress test it out for a while through research and multiple conversations, constantly refining the idea to improve the value-add. Once I have feedback and further conviction, I get straight to the drafting board to design the experience to overcome the inefficiencies. This process helps me visualize the product from the lens of the end-user.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Being an energy efficiency enthusiast myself, I’m excited about the climate consciousness that has come about recently. Many leaders and thinkers like Bill Gates & President Biden are advocating for all industries to shift towards sustainable practices and operations to reduce their climate impact. Biden Administration’s $ 2T plan to promote clean energy and green retrofits for commercial buildings will significantly help reduce the ‘green premium’ in the building industry.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I strongly believe in a work-life balance, which goes against the social mindset that entrepreneurship means no work-life balance. An entrepreneur is aware of all the deadlines, challenges and band-aid solutions that exist in the business. Taking some time off allows me to distance myself from the problem statement and revisit it with a fresh perspective.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’d surely encourage myself to embrace uncertainty. I’ve gone about my life planning ahead and hoping things work out the way anticipated, but I’ve learnt that is almost never the case. And expecting life to shape out as per ‘a plan’ only drains you mentally. As long as you are putting your best foot forward, you must trust the process.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Plants can hear you when you speak to them – talking to them can encourage growth and longevity for the plant.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Visualize your success – I’ve learnt this exercise gears your mind and body to identify the trajectory to reach your goals.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers – it helps you design better products, price them competitively and make your services both meaningful and impactful.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Entrepreneur means going after an experiment which has no historic data of success. When you’re living that life, you experience failure on an almost regular basis on almost all fronts.
One of the many failures I had was when I estimated the time it would take to build the web-platform. I overcame the timeline setback by patiently continuing to work on the product and reminding myself that in the long run, these milestone deadlines didn’t matter – they were all self imposed.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Data-driven decision making for energy use and spatial usage levels is still exclusive only to larger properties and big businesses. Though proven profitable, this remains fairly unexplored by a huge portion of properties and businesses due to cost and technical complexity. I believe this is a huge untapped opportunity.
SaaS for big data analytics to identify inefficiencies can significantly change the way small buildings and businesses operate, especially since Covid-19 has kickstarted the trend for work-from-home.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Kindle e-reader – ah the joy of reading!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Airtable helps me organize data, collaborate with my team and keep information centralized. I use it as a core tool at EnerYields.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Everything Store by Brad Stone feels like an insider report on the rise of Amazon from its early days. The book has many takeaways on the benefits of long term thinking.
What is your favorite quote?
“Curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back” – Ben Johnson.
- The typical day doesn’t really exist.
- Put yourself in the shoes of your customers – it helps you design better products, price them competitively and make your services both meaningful and impactful.
- Visualize your success.
- Data-driven decision making for energy use and spatial usage levels is still exclusive only to larger properties and big businesses.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.