As a fan of empowerment through business, I was interested in learning about how Walid Halty and his team at Dvinci Energy have utilized a turn-key, mission-centric formula to empower millennials in order to solve the world’s energy crisis. As a co-founder and chairman at Dvinci Energy, Halty has seemingly revolutionized the way solar companies operate, speeding up the mass adoption of renewables. In less than one year, Dvinci is saving its clients an estimated $45 million in utilities, with a goal of $1 billion in clients’ savings by 2019. Not only that, but it is making an impact on the environment as well, reducing 8,760 tons per year in CO2 emissions. Adding to all of that, it was impressive to hear that Dvinci has given $22,500 in scholarships in 2017, and is aiming to give more in 2018 ($100,000) and 2019 ($1 million).
Much like myself, Halty sees a great importance in being a philanthropist as well as a businessman, and was even recognized by Nestle as a teenager. He is a true innovator, a leader on a mission similar to my own, “a mission to empower.”
I took some time out to learn more about his team and how they were able to do what they’re doing on such a large scale in such a short period of time.
What are you doing over at Dvinci?
Halty: Our focus is cutting-edge, sustainable, bankable technologies, like solar. Our global reach, blended with our community-centric framework, allows us to connect and empower communities to make an impact — one person, one home, one neighborhood at a time.
Renewables are now the mainstream form of energy. They’re reducing thousands of pounds of CO2, improving our domestic economy, cutting the cost of living and empowering communities. Because of this, there has been a “sun rush,” a new type of gold rush. So, competing companies tend to follow “grow-at-all-costs” business models that not only leads to massive spend rates and other operational deficiencies, which is often detrimental to the customer. This approach has inevitably cost these companies their existence, and some bad connotations with “going solar.”
That’s why Dvinci has a focus on new turn-key solar solutions, combining sustainability and profitability to give our customers the highest quality tech, at the lowest price. Not only that, but our solutions are custom-tailored and offer the fastest turnaround.
What are some pieces of advice you can give to millennial entrepreneurs?
1. Know your weaknesses.
At Dvinci, the source of our exponential success has been aligning our complementary strength with that of our partners. Just like JetBlue doesn’t make its own airplanes, nor does McDonald’s raise cows to serve its customers. Find out where you can provide the best frontier of value for your customers, and find great partners to do the rest. This is how a sustainable economy is created. This is what builds community. I personally know I suck at a lot of things. Thankfully and gratefully, I have a team around me of phenomenal people that allow me to focus on what I’m really good at. As entrepreneurs, a big challenge is humbling ourselves to empower others, and I mean really empowering the people around us to step in ways that allows them to lead in what they’re really good at.
2. Numbers tell the story.
People lie, numbers don’t …. With [an] awareness for numbers, you can then find micro-opportunities to deliver value. And here’s a little secret: No company is perfect. No one is batting 1.000. If your competition is batting .300, you only need to bat .350. And if you bat .400, you’ll really impress your customers. You can only do this if you can quantifiably look at your business from every angle, on a day-to-day basis, and by constantly asking your people questions like “How can we do more? How can we provide more value here? What should we do more of/less of? Can we do this quicker?” This also promotes healthy experimenting. In regards to experimenting, make sure you’re experimenting wisely, and very often.
3. Problems are good.
As a hyper-growth company, we are constantly faced with growing pains and problems. There’s a saying, I heard it once from Mark Zuckerberg, “Unless you’re breaking things, you’re not moving fast enough.” At Dvinci, we see problems as opportunities. Opportunities for our people to get closer to one another, for our systems to improve, and for us to prove our commitment to our customers. For instance, if we had an issue with our installation scheduling, at Dvinci we see that as a huge opportunity for us to call our customers immediately to communicate what went wrong, with them. Then we compensate them to express our commitment to making things right. Then we make things right, deliver our product and keep providing value through follow-up and other means. We turn the problem into an opportunity to provide even more value for our customers. For any entrepreneur, I advise looking for problems. Embrace them; don’t shy away from them. Another great quote that comes to mind is that “you get paid based off the level of difficulty of problems you solve.” If you solve bigger problems, you get paid bigger bucks. If you’re not solving problems (and thus providing value for someone), you will not get paid. If you are solving problems — whether it’s helping people with Facebook advertisement or solving the world’s healthcare crisis — people will want to pay you. Sometimes this requires lots of thought and being resourceful, but it’s simple.
4. Community is built with communication.
Communicate fast, deep and often. Whether CEO or sales manager, you should spend most of your time engaging with your employees, customers and suppliers. When we ask our employees, “What can we do better?” we empower them. We make them think and feel just like they are owners. When we ask our customers, “Hhow can we do our job better?” we show them we truly care about them. When we genuinely ask for feedback from the people we are serving, we stay on the cutting-edge of delivery when it comes to the highest level of value. This creates a self-sustaining, winning culture. How can you do this in your own company? Get genuinely interested in your customers and employees. In doing so, you will develop an intimate understanding of your people’s likes, needs and priorities. Thus, you can know where to provide them with the most value. We also take every opportunity we have to communicate our mission at Dvinci. On every call (whether it’s company-wide or department-focused), we remind our team at the beginning of the call, and at the end of the call, what our mission is and what the future state of our company will look like. This keeps a relentless focus alive in our company — like a heat-seeking missile.
5. Go bigger and go longer, sooner.
The biggest “problem” I faced in my previous ventures was thinking too small, and not knowing which game I was playing. For example, I was overseeing a residential local solar company at one point, but I wanted to make a global impact. I was playing the wrong game. I learned a lot but I could not create the type of value that I knew the world needed. Here’s the question to ask: Are you building a feature, product, company or mission? Features take about 90 days to build (and you can create millions of dollars). Products take about 90 weeks (and you can create tens of millions of dollars) Companies take about 90 months (and you can create tens of billions of dollars of value). Missions take up to 90 years, (Tesla, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple) which create hundreds of billions of dollars of value. What game are you playing? You need to know this to properly allocate your focus, your people, your resources and your time. The higher your aiming point, the greater the necessary trajectory, willpower and time over which it has to be sustained. You cannot build a mission in a few years, and you cannot take a few years to build a product. Most importantly, trust your intuition. Assuming you’re also trusting your experience, looking at available data, and assessing risk, your intuition is usually right.
6. Think global, act local.
This means recognizing and taking accountability as stakeholders of a global society. Taking responsibility to work together to solve the world’s biggest problems as a collective. This also means providing a unique personalized experience for your customers through your local presence — while being interconnected to an overall global mission. It means taking action in your own communities for the betterment of the entire planet. This is how impact is made, this is how true community is built. At Dvinci, we believe that “the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” We have made it our duty and responsibility to solve the world’s energy crisis. Our global thinking, combined with our local doing, empowers us to make a more universal, and holistic impact.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
With an estimated 1.3 billion people on Earth without electricity, we are solving that problem and providing something that the rest of us take for granted, while also reducing emissions and combating the marketplace’s rising utility costs. As our world population of 7 billion continues to expand, the need for more reliable sources of electricity is only increasing. With a “great transition” to renewable energy happening in order to save ourselves and our planet, Dvinci [will] be there helping to lead the charge and providing more people sustainable energy in the coming years.