5 Minutes With A Green Technology Entrepreneur @ Charleston Airport
It may be a buzz word to many, but let me assure you, being green is more than meets the eye. Brian is a much sought after entrepreneur who has landed himself in the spotlight with his inaugural Ted Talk on June 23 on "The importance of reconnecting our cities to nature".
His business, Solterra Systems, is a fully licensed electrical, landscaping and waterproofing company that focuses on integrating environmental technology into buildings.
This can range from green roofs producing food through to rain screen siding systems that protect the building from the elements with plants.
But enough about that, how can we connect our cities to nature. Here's what he had to say:
What can communities be doing more of to connect their cities to nature?
The first step is attaching an ROI to the benefits associated with being in nature for all humans. For example, they estimate that the average American spends 26% of the day being distracted; think text messages and advertisements - but right now technology is very much a part of what we do - and so, if we just look at what we are doing in our business, there is a loss of productivity in the workplace because of this and people have, in general, very un-balanced lives.
So, my goal, is to show that putting humans in more natural settings, that people are more productive and can recover from a distraction faster as well as the fact that they will be more healthier. This can only benefit workplace production.
What made you choose to be an entrepreneur?
I had some success working at a former company as an employee building a renewable energy division and just realized that my vision would not be fully implemented by working for someone else. So, when I was 24, I decided to leave and start Solterra Systems.
What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
The ability to have a vision and to get a number of people excited about that so that that vision can be executed and accomplished.
What's the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a young entrepreneur?
I started my business in 2008 right at the start of the financial crisis which was not a good time for any contractors, so I had to go out and figure a way to gain clients and convince them to spend money on green technology when people where not spending money at all. It was a time when other contractors were going out of business.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt?
No matter what you are doing, defining responsibility is most important. When you have a group of people working towards the same goal, responsibility needs to be defined.
Who are you mentors and how did you get them?
I have a number of mentors in the Entrepreneurs Organization that have been through some of the same difficulties that I have been through and so they share these experiences and challenges.When I was just starting, I met this guy who was the only person in the US who taught all courses to become a certified green roof professional and he took me under his wing. This was instrumental in proving to my first clients that I could do the work.
What's the biggest issue that your industry is facing?
Education because right now not many people are familiar with the technology so the cost to obtain a customer can be high. We are faced with providing the education to the client to assist them in making a decision and to actually take the step of purchasing the technology. There is still a lot of work to be done here.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
We just obtained our first patent so we are moving more heavily into product development and manufacturing. It is my goal to be distributing internationally some of the green technology that we have been working on and to take a systematic approach to designing and constructing buildings with a core competency of implementing this green technology into the building.
You can find out more about Brian by visiting www.solterrasystems.com
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