VECKTA’s Gareth Evans, Episode 3, Green Giants Titans of Renewable Energy


In this episode, Wes Ashworth interviews Gareth Evans, founder and CEO of VECKTA, a platform and marketplace that simplifies the energy transition process for businesses. Gareth shares his journey into the renewable energy industry and discusses the challenges faced by business leaders in understanding and implementing renewable energy solutions. He emphasizes the importance of education and awareness in overcoming barriers to adoption. Gareth also highlights the need for collaboration, innovation, and a diverse team to drive the renewable energy industry forward. He predicts a breakout year for on-site energy systems and emphasizes the importance of energy sovereignty and access to affordable, reliable, and clean power. In this conversation, Gareth Evans shares his experiences as an entrepreneur in the renewable energy industry. He discusses the rewarding moments of entrepreneurship, the importance of persistence and overcoming challenges, tips for seeking funding, staying true to yourself and finding the right fit, measuring success in renewable energy, and the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing.

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Transcript

Welcome to Green Giants, Titans of Renewable Energy, the podcast where insights and innovation meet. Every episode, we dive into conversations with industry leaders, experts and changemakers, bringing you the stories and ideas in the renewable energy sector that shape our world. And now let’s jump into today’s episode with your host, Wes Ashworth.

Wes Ashworth (00:00)

Welcome to our latest episode of Green Giants, Titans of Renewable Energy. Today I’m thrilled to introduce Gareth Evans, founder and CEO of VECKTA. Gareth is a visionary leader in the renewable energy sector. His journey is a testament to his dedication to a mission of empowering businesses and communities to make the global transition towards a more affordable, secure, and renewable energy future. Gareth has been a leader his entire life from working in charity and community organizations

leading sports teams to military operations. Gareth has parlayed these experiences into building teams and businesses who take on the planet’s greatest challenges and opportunities. He is now focusing on enabling companies to successfully navigate the energy transition. His time in Iraq following the Gulf War set his mission in motion. It opened his eyes to a world without access to reliable energy and other basic essentials needed to survive.

He saw the impact that can have on the stability of a region and the health and success of businesses and communities. Driven by this experience, he committed himself to find solutions that create profitable and sustainable energy outcomes such that we can all thrive. Gareth, welcome to the show.

Gareth Evans (01:10)

Great to be here Wes, thanks for having me.

Wes Ashworth (01:13)

Absolutely. So beginning with the basics for those who may not be familiar, can you provide an overview of VECKTA and the specific challenges it addresses in the renewable energy sector?

Gareth Evans (01:26)

Yep, absolutely. VECKTA is the energy transition platform and marketplace. And what that means is we really simplify the process for business leaders around the world to assess how can they reduce their energy costs? How can they increase their energy reliability and security? And how can they also reduce their emissions in the process? And that’s a very complex problem statement for most businesses to figure out.

Many have just always paid their utility bill and they’re realizing that they’re passive consumers of energy and they don’t have control over that. So we provide the data, intelligence, tools, workflows, as well as a network of thousands of suppliers in the marketplace to ensure that businesses one, determine where they get the greatest return on investment, what the right solution would be for them, and then who should ultimately build it. And

finance it, we consider all those. So it’s all about simplifying the process, making it accessible and supporting people to act with confidence.

Wes Ashworth (02:58)

Yeah. Which I think, that’s so important, simplifying it, creating a solution that it’s easier to get your arms around. You understand the best path forward for you. And I think that’s a lot of the limiting factors out there that may prevent people from going with a solution like this. Do you, do you agree with that? And what, I guess what was the original question that came up that made you start, start the company?

Gareth Evans (03:22)

Yeah, well, I think the main barriers for business leaders today is, one, their awareness and education around energy is somewhat limited, just purely because they haven’t had to think about it in the past, it’s been a line item on their balance sheet. I’d say, two, up until now, they’ve kind of used consultants to go through this process, and what they’re realizing is, it’s a very static process. It’s looking at a snapshot in time. It’s excel-based, it’s judgment-based, it’s emotion-based, and we need to get it back to data. We need to get it back to intelligence, insights, and being able to act on true commercial and technical analyses, not just kind of thumb suck estimates. Or three, they’ve kind of been sold to by suppliers in the market, and they haven’t known who to trust and who’s right for them to partner with because these are, we’d say, one way door investments because you’re investing in an asset that’s gonna be at your property for the next 15, 20, 25 years. And so you wanna make sure you’re making the right decision. So the main reason we built the business is customers were coming to, I used to work for one of the biggest energy engineering firms in the world, company called Worley. I led their global consulting practice for a division of the energy industry. And what we’re seeing is customers saying, “I am uncomfortable with how much my energy prices are going up. I’m now experiencing power quality issues or power outages. And I’m being put under a lot of pressure to reduce my emissions, whether it be from my board members, my employees, my customers, capital markets.” There’s lots of different avenues for that pressure today. And they just didn’t have answers. And previously, we were charging way too much money doing the process too slowly. And we’ve automated that whole workflow because for us, the North Star is profitable and sustainable energy systems deployed with the least amount of upfront costs. We don’t wanna create a cost barrier to people doing this.

Wes Ashworth (05:37)

Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Thanks for, thanks for the explanation there and kind of going through that. And also, so we touched on it a little bit in the intro and I’d love to dive a little bit deeper into this, but what sparked your journey into the renewable energy industry? Tell me a little bit about that origin story.

Gareth Evans (05:54)

Yeah, it definitely… unscripted, unplanned. Originally, always thought I was gonna be a fast jet pilot actually, so I was sponsored to go to university by the Air Force. I love geography, I love being in the outdoors. I love adventure, so I had studied environmental science. And yeah, when I decided that the military wasn’t the right avenue and I spent several years traveling around the world, seeing different cultures, different geographies.

I ended up in Canada. I had an- and I started supporting the oil and gas industry. And I think the oil and gas industry gets bashed pretty hard. And I think we need to be super proud of that industry because it’s allowed us all to get a, um, the lifestyles that we all enjoy today. And it’s definitely not going away for a long time to come, but what is, has happened is now we’ve got other options, which is great, but yeah, the, per your intro, the main kind of turning point for me was spending that time in Iraq. I spent two years there supporting some of the biggest energy companies in the world to move into the country after the Gulf War. And so a very stressful time, living on the US Army base in Basra, getting mortar attacked most evenings. We had to have personal protection teams at all times. And we were responsible for assessing the risks and liabilities for the companies coming into the region.

But what was very eye-opening is here we were extracting the oil and gas for us to have these lifestyles in the West, and yet the local populace was surviving on two hours of power a day. And it just showed me the vulnerability of relying on a centralized infrastructure in terms of transmission lines and power plants. Once they’re impacted, then everyone suffers.

Wes Ashworth (07:40)

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I love that, that story. And I think it’s so interesting and something that maybe not a lot of people think about or know, but, but the other exciting thing for the industry are, you know, it’s some of those developing countries that may be able to kind of leapfrog into a renewable option that is bringing them something that couldn’t have been provided through our normal kind of means and way. So there’s such a cool thing out there in terms of yes, for us developed countries, like there’s a huge push and we need to all get to that renewable future as well. But these developing countries are so much more room for growth and being able to provide that to those communities. So I love that, love your mission and kind of your why behind it.

Gareth Evans (08:33)

I was just going to say, I like that comment because for me, you know, if you go to say Kenya today, you can go into the middle of the Masai Mara and someone will be on a cell phone. They never had landlines. They never had dial-up telephones. They completely skipped that generation. And you’re absolutely spot on. I think we’re at a moment today and people actually don’t realize it, but we’re essentially our central, the way we get our power today is our beeper and BlackBerry moment. Like we’re still using a beeper and we think it’s awesome. We’ve maybe just, maybe just turned to the flip phone, but we’ve literally got access to the iPhone 15 and all of the values of that and people don’t realize that it’s there for the taking. And that’s what we need to put in people’s palms is the iPhone capability.

Wes Ashworth (09:23)

I agree completely. It’s so much of that. It’s again, it’s more the knowledge standpoint and comfortability and kind of like clinging to what you’ve known. But the more you get into it and you start to research it and look at these technologies, what’s coming, like you’re right, I think it’s this next level of technology and innovation and things like that. It’s an exciting time for sure. So, now that you’ve been in it a while, you’ve had a career in this renewable energy landscape, I guess what has consistently fueled your passion and drive? What keeps you going today?

Gareth Evans (09:59)

So, like, my personal mission is to now create affordable, reliable, clean power for everyone on the planet because energy is our lifeblood of everything. Without it, things grind to a halt very quickly. That’s obviously a big, audacious, hairy goal and it’s not one that’s gonna be achieved anytime soon. But what drives me every day is kind of pushing towards that. And so today we’re focused on commercial industrial businesses because they’re the biggest energy consumers, the biggest emitters, they’re the people who can act very quickly and efficiently. And so I think by supporting businesses to move quicker and be more successful and achieve more profitable and sustainable outcomes, that filters down through our entire economies, communities, lifestyles. And so how do we ensure that we all have a more thriving future is kind of key to this.

Wes Ashworth (10:56)

Yeah, yeah, I love that. And from your perspective, you know, I’ve heard, you know, others talk through that and say that and, and it’s something as you say it, and you say that mission of bringing, you know, affordable, you know, energy kind of around to, to every community or globally. It feels good, right? You know, you can get- easily get behind that and excited about that, but it’s, as you said, it’s sort of a big hairy audacious goal.

How do we get there? You know, what’s the roadmap from what you can see and how do we achieve that?

Gareth Evans (11:30)

Yeah, I think some of the biggest misconceptions is that we don’t have access to the technology that we need. And I think the reality is, is that we’ve spent a lot of time and money now over the last few years building big utility scale systems. So big solar farms, big wind turbines, big gas plants. And then we rely on sending power down a transmission line to our doorsteps.

We’ve now got the technology, we’ve got the construction capabilities, we’ve got the capital to be able to build the energy we need right, right where we need it. So instead of us relying on someone bringing it to us, you know, like you put solar panels on the roof of your house. Now supercharge that for businesses and think about solar, battery storage, gas turbines, fuel cells, electric vehicle charges. Like that really is the future, where we are all generating the energy we need. If we have surplus, we share it, we sell it, we donate it. And we have control over our own destiny. And I think that more distributed energy future is going to be the kind of foundation for everything that we build from there. So I think that that’s the change. I think it’s not, it’s not hard in a technical sense. It’s all about providing the enabling technology, insights, confidence for people to get after it and do it because the economic benefits are actually very significant now.

Wes Ashworth (13:03)

Yeah, no, absolutely. When you look at kind of those costs, you know, that have that have even over a short time, you know, how much more affordable and profitable and those things are, that’s been just accelerated over really a short period of time, which is pretty incredible to see. And I love, you know, and you hit on it there, that it’s not one solution, right? Like it’s, the answer is not one single solution. It’s, it’s an “and focus”, you know, it’s all these different pieces of the puzzle coming together. And I think that’s what I get excited about. And you need partnership, you need people working together and different technologies happening, and you need solar, you need wind, you need green hydrogen, you need all these different things to come together to be the solution in the end. But I love that about it, that it is very collaborative.

Gareth Evans (13:56)

Yeah, it has to be. There’s definitely no silver bullet. And I think for your listeners, if they’re being sold a solution by someone in the market where they’re saying, you know, buy my solar panels and I’ll fill your roof and I’ll save you some money. They have to be a bit cautious of that because maybe solar works for someone in a very specific use case, but for someone else, a battery may be better. And to your point, we need to not look at one size fits all.

Every business is consuming energy in a slightly different way. They have a different utility tariff. They are in a different location with different fuel prices, different solar potential. So the list goes on and that’s where the complexity creeps in. And we want to cut through all that and not overwhelm people with that complex data, let us deal with that behind the scenes, but then let’s represent their best interests and tell them here is actually what is technically and financially the most optimal solution.

Wes Ashworth (14:50)

Yeah. And I love that. I think if I understand it correctly with, with VECKTA, that’s a lot of the premise behind it is sort of analyzing each situation and where they’re at. And then figuring out, okay, here’s maybe the best solutions. Here’s the best path forward for this specific organization or this specific organization or entity versus just saying, hey, here’s the one size fits all type of thing. And I think to your point, that’s what people want. Once it starts getting complicated and complex, they shy away, but we gotta make it easy for them.

Gareth Evans (15:26)

Exactly. I’ve been able to do that across dozens, hundreds, thousands of sites. Some businesses need to be able to do that at scale and do that analysis and prioritize where they should be focusing their time and effort. And we can’t wait years to do that. Let’s do it in minutes, hours, days, versus months and years. That unlocks a whole new world.

Wes Ashworth (15:49)

No doubt. It’s, so diving in a little bit of your leadership and approach to things in an industry that is constantly reshaping itself, it’s evolving really, really quickly, is how do you define your approach to leadership, making pivotal decisions like how are, how are you leading your organization?

Gareth Evans (16:09)

I’d say common sense drives a lot of it. I think we can get sucked up into the fact that the world is changing around us and things are changing and get overwhelmed by that. But I said to the team at the start of this year for this quarter, our mantra is “show up every day, no excuses.” And for me, that kind of boils down to, we’re not gonna have, it’s not gonna be smooth sailing. We’re gonna have setbacks always. There’s going to be things we don’t expect, but keep working the plan. Keep learning, keep adapting, and show up, execute and don’t blame anyone else but ourselves, you know, that’s the reality. I think what’s unique about our approach is we’re extremely values driven. And so we have three core values: challenge limits, adapt purposefully, empower co-creation. And so everything we do is underpinned by that. It drives a really powerful culture, especially one that’s very mission aligned. So I think they’re all very, very important. We’re a remote first company. So sometimes it feels like it’s hard to kind of all stay coordinated and aligned, but the culture is incredible. And we come together a few times a year and rent a house and all hang out together and strategize and reflect. And that’s coming up at the end of January for us as our next one. And so that kind of fires up the culture, gets everyone stoked and allows us to go away.

Wes Ashworth (17:41)

Yeah, it’s so much, you learn human nature. We live in this 90 day world. And it’s like every quarter, we kind of need some refresher and just refocus, realign, you know, get our priorities straight, come together like that. So I love that. Anything else you do to drive just a culture of innovation within your team?

Gareth Evans (18:02)

We’re literally creating an entirely new market segment. And so I feel like we’re having to innovate every day because there’s no roadmap. So that’s super awesome. And the way we do that is having a diverse team where everyone has a voice at the table. There’s no rank in the room. It’s about being hard on the problem, not on the person. And that’s the way we operate is,

let’s constantly get back to, kind of that first principle thinking, how do we, what is the problem we’re trying to solve and how do we get there in the most efficient way possible? And yeah, we’re having to disrupt an industry that’s kind of thought the same way for a hundred years. And so that can be hard because we all come in with our own preconceived ideas and yeah, and biases and it’s all about kind of breaking those down.

Wes Ashworth (18:57)

Yeah, I agree. How much of that is weighted on hiring, versus leading someone once they get there, and following that up, what are some of the things you look for when you’re hiring somebody for this innovative team that is driving somebody with disruptive technology and innovating constantly, like what are the things you look for and how do you find them?

Gareth Evans (19:23)

Yeah, I think what’s quite fun about this space is because it is quite new, it’s not like there’s people who have been doing this for 20, 30, 40, 50 years, like there’s none of that. So we come in very open-minded and we’ve hired everything from economists to finance experts, to people who have actually technically trained in this space through to supply chain specialists, procurement software. So we focus more on the attitude for sure, the mission alignment, the cultural fit, making sure that they’ve got those aligned values is really important. So a lot of the questions we ask are tied back to testing how they align with those values. Because then we can train on the intricacies of the industry and how we’re thinking about it and the product we’re building.

But ultimately this is a communication game today. It’s how do we engage with customers at scale and help them feel trusted, supported, educated, not overwhelmed. And so our team has to be able to have those kind of engagement skills to be able to have a clear, concise conversation.

Wes Ashworth (20:39)

Yeah, that’s a threat I hear a lot just around that communication piece and being able to, because I think it is that, you know, you’re taking a world that has done things a very specific way and it’s what we’ve known and what we’ve always known, and trying to get somebody to embrace a new idea and be okay with it and go with that – there’s a huge skill there that’s hard to pinpoint sometimes and getting the right people to be able to do that. So yeah, I love that. And then thinking about sort of some of the things that you’ve faced through your journey, through business. So what are maybe some of the major obstacles you’ve come across in the renewable energy sector and how have you approached solving them?

Gareth Evans (21:27)

Yep. Genuinely the biggest challenge today, I’d say, well there’s two. There’s the, the momentum that sits behind status quo thinking. So I think the reality is energy up until now has showed up when we needed it at a price point that was acceptable and that was okay. So none of us thought about it. Now that it’s not necessarily meeting our needs in terms of cost, reliability, emission profile, people don’t know what to do. And that education and awareness is a real challenge. And I think companies like to keep turning back to “here’s our tried and true practices.” And it may be turning to a consultant that they’ve used their whole career. It may be working with a supplier that they’ve always used, but they aren’t necessarily the best people in this kind of new world order for a new market, new opportunity that’s got hundreds of thousands of variables to consider. Long-term investment needs, unique capital models. And so that’s what we work really hard on is trying to just educate and support the market to know what’s possible, what their options are. And there’s some major misconceptions in the market. You know, the ones we hear all the time is, solar only is going to be my holy grail. Batteries are too expensive and sustainability will come at the cost of profitability. And, you know, those three misconceptions alone can stop people from acting.

So it’s all about addressing them because none of them are true today. Maybe two years ago, they were still true and that’s how quick things are changing.

Wes Ashworth (23:15)

Yeah, and I think that’s what people get stuck on. Could you take a few minutes and address some of those? I would love to hear your perspective on those misconceptions and help, again, put some of that education out there.

Gareth Evans (23:28)

Yeah, absolutely. So, like, solar is absolutely awesome. It’s a core technology. It’s something that we often see in pretty much, well, almost all of the assessments that we end up completing, solar often pencils. But especially today, what people don’t realize is if you’re trying to reduce your emissions, you’re generating energy when the grid is at its cleanest and at its cheapest during the day when it’s got access to renewable power.

So if that’s a focus and you haven’t got a way of storing that, then your value is gonna be diminished. The grid power is also at its cheapest at that point. So your cost savings are minimized. And what most people don’t realize is that when the grid goes down, they think “I’ve got solar panels so my power will continue to stay on.” But actually, to protect the people who come and work on the power lines after a power outage, when you generate your own solar, it backfeeds into the grid. And so unless you’ve got a controller or a storage facility to be able to consume that solar, it has to be shut off automatically. And so your power will go off when the grid goes down. So there’s some of the solar misconceptions. And so what we wanna make sure people do is think about how they maximize solar, make it financially viable, how they take advantage of different utility rates and tariffs and net metering systems and all this good stuff.

We can go into that in a lot more detail, but that would be the high level.

On the battery front, batteries have come down 14% in cost just in the last year alone, over 80% in the last 10 years. And the economic benefits of batteries are very significant in terms of being able to manage when you consume energy from the grid. So you’d far prefer to buy energy from your utility provider when it’s at its cheapest versus peak times. If you can reduce your peak load demands, your bill will go down. There’s lots of different benefits of batteries that make them pencil very quickly. And so then that all rolls into the sustainability comes at the expense of profitability. What we’re actually seeing is our customers can save anywhere from 10 to 50 percent on their energy bills every month, while also reducing our emissions by, we’ve seen in excess of 40, 50 percent. So, I don’t know any business leader out there that if they were told they could reduce their costs and reduce their emissions that they wouldn’t go for it. And yet that that’s sort of the barrier that as an industry we’re trying to overcome

Wes Ashworth (26:06)

Yeah, which as you’ve described, that barrier is less of an issue today. And I think it’s just a matter of people educating themselves and getting the word out and continue to look at those options and consider those options. Because as you said, what you described is really a win-win scenario. And why wouldn’t you do it?

Gareth Evans (26:25)

Yep. And having a partner that will tell you when it doesn’t make sense instead of just doing something for the sake of it. And so we also firmly believe in killing bad projects early and not wasting anyone’s time, but being aware of the opportunity and continuing to assess it such that at some point in time, it will make sense. So that’s a key part of this as well as, it’s a dynamic environment and let’s make sure we have dynamic solutions.

Wes Ashworth (26:54)

Absolutely. Yeah, I love it. So kind of getting into, you know, we’re at the start of a year, it’s 2024. We’re here. There’s growing interest in the forecast for the renewable and clean tech sectors. I’d love to hear from your perspective, what are your insights and expectations for what this year might unveil?

Gareth Evans (27:15)

Yeah, I actually, I’m really excited about 2024. I know there’s still, you know, people being a bit uncomfortable about where is the economy going to go? But like Dan and I, we do our Renewable Rides podcast. We just did a recording about trends of 2024. And I genuinely think it’s going to be a breakout year for what we call on-site energy systems or microgrids. As we’ve discussed, technology prices have come down massively. The incentives are huge. So through the Inflation Reduction Act here in the US, businesses can get between 30 and 50 cents on the dollar back in terms of tax credits for any dollar spent on these systems. There’s huge amounts of capital on the sidelines that wants to invest in these systems. So if you don’t wanna pay a penny, someone else will finance it, build it, own it, operate it. I think the awareness is getting to a point now where people are starting to feel more comfortable.

And I think all of this is rolling into big macro trends that we’re gonna see. There’s over, I think, 70 different elections this year around the world. And I think energy supply chain risks around access to critical minerals and metals, access to EV infrastructure charging; these are all going to be very topical conversations because right now we’re kind of knee-jerk reacting as an industry versus having a very purposeful plan. And I think the politics is ahead of the actual execution. And we need to make sure that kind of flip-flops and we get ahead of where the politics is at.

Wes Ashworth (28:51)

Yeah, love it. Love to hear the enthusiasm and excitement too for the year. I feel the same way, like from leaders I’ve talked to in the industry. I think that’s the sentiment I’m getting. Depends on, you know, I think anybody’s got to be careful in what they listen to and pay attention to. And sometimes there’s messages behind it or, you know, they’re driving things that aren’t really a reflection of accurately, like where we are and what the economy is doing and what the sector is doing.

But I like getting it firsthand from leaders who are actually in it and running businesses and seeing it firsthand. So that’s awesome to hear. Are there any emerging trends in renewable energy? Like what excites you the most? What gets you fired up? And some of the reason behind that enthusiasm.

Gareth Evans (29:41)

Yeah, I think what we’re seeing is the electrification of vehicles is obviously building a huge amount of momentum. And I think what is going to limit EV adoption is just still that nervousness around the infrastructure. And I think what’s very exciting is that isn’t limited by grid capacity when we consider onsite energy generation. So if we can generate energy through solar and wind and store it on site and then use that to charge vehicles, like that’s a huge trend. And we’re seeing, I’d say we’re seeing businesses around the world now realizing the potential of that, and massive businesses. And I think, yeah, I think the fact that business leaders are realizing they can actually create legacy and differentiation in the market by positioning their companies for long-term success. I think there’s no particular technology that I kind of scream and shout about. I think it’s all of this coming together and digitalization and AI and data science actually making all this way simpler than it needs to be.

Wes Ashworth (30:58)

Absolutely. Yeah. You kind of see again that collaborative effort, it’s all sort of coming together and all these different technologies, all these different AI platforms and everything else. Again, it’s all sort of helping towards this goal that we’re headed towards and moving towards. So yeah, excited to see what’s going to come. So thinking about again, your career and where you’ve come and again, wanting to put some wisdom out there in the world – so you look back, what’s some advice you would give to your younger self, you know, starting out in the industry all over again? And there are a lot of people out there that want to get in the industry, whether that’s, you know, first job out of college or high school, whatever path they chose. Or you get a lot of, you know, industry switchers to your people in the middle of their career and those sorts of things as well. So if you were starting out again in this sector today, what advice would you give your young self?

Gareth Evans (31:56)

Yeah, lots for sure. I’d say network as much as you possibly can. It’s your network that will help you get places, whether it’s people sponsoring you within a business, whether it’s them helping you find a job, whether it’s helping them mentor you. So definitely build the right network around you. Put your hand up for the hardest tasks possible. So say yes to absolutely everything, especially in the early days.

I’d say have a better balance between the impatience of feeling like you wanna be the CEO tomorrow versus actually earning your stripes and learning your trade. The early years of your career are actually some of the best. Don’t rush them because you get to do a lot of cool stuff without the pressure of budgets and people management and all that sort of stuff. So I’d say just really embrace that, don’t rush it, because it sets the right foundation for the rest of the career. So I’d say they’re the big ones.

Wes Ashworth (32:59)

Yeah, that’s awesome. Kind of getting further into something I touched on in that question, just those that are considering joining this industry. And I think that’s something I’m passionate about and in seeing the talent gap that’s there, seeing that there are not enough people with this hyper specific experience in this technology, because it hasn’t been around long enough to fill, I think all the openings and all the growth that is to come.

What would you say, I guess, to encourage those maybe that are thinking about entering the industry or joining the industry? Why should they come in?

Gareth Evans (33:40)

I actually don’t think there’s a better industry to be in. This is going to be multi billions of dollars of transactions per year, growing year on year. And what industry can you be in where you get to make an impact on the lives of many while also doing cool stuff, hanging out with a good group of people and being super proud about what you’re doing. I think there’s not a lot of the people who have joined our business over the years, it’s ranged from leaving organizations like Apple, cause they were like, I could either get people addicted to my phone more, or I could go and build an energy system that’s going to reduce emissions or like that’s some of the examples, you know, people genuinely do see the mission alignments and that’s what’s super exciting.

Wes Ashworth (34:34)

Yeah, I agree completely. There are very few, very few industries in the world where you’re a part of, you know, that, again going back to that disruptive or disruptive technology, change, innovation, bleeding edge, you know, tech that we’re continually pushing forward. But you’re also doing something great, you know, you’re making a positive difference. And you’re, you know, positively impacting the entire globe and people individually. I don’t, I don’t know that there are many other industries that provide this opportunity. So I agree wholeheartedly with where you’re at there.

Gareth Evans (35:10)

Yeah, especially where you can rip up the rule book and literally get after it. And I say to anyone that joins, like, it’s kind of a create your own destiny opportunity. And you’ve got a blank sheet of paper, make of it what you want.

Wes Ashworth (35:25)

Yeah. And there, there are plenty of people just hungry for that. You know, you know, if you’re hardwired that way and if that gets you fired up and if it does, you probably want to think about coming over.

So, transitioning a little bit in your view, what are some of the essential changes needed for the renewable energy industry to become more predominant? You know, so it’s, it’s getting that adoption across the board and everybody’s sort of embracing it and moving forward. What are some of the things that need to change?

Gareth Evans (35:57)

Yep. Well, I think first of all, kind of right at that kind of top political stroke operational level, there’s definitely a mismatch. You know, as an example, we’ve got the Inflation Reduction Act, which really rewards you for deploying an on-site energy system. And yet there’s still many utilities that make it extremely hard, or try and kill the commercial viability of that through their practices and performance through trying to protect their own monopolies. So I think that needs to change. We need to have more kind of coordination and alignment at the top level to make sure that this transition is supported and not blocked. I think down at an execution level, it’s really about providing that partnership, that support, that trusted relationship to business leaders that are being expected to make significant decisions, invest a lot of money, time, energy into doing what they, everyone wants to do the right thing, but then they don’t wanna lose their job. They don’t wanna impact their social status. So how do we support people to get their next role, be successful, boost their ego? How can we get them to act with confidence and knowing that they’re doing the right thing? And I think we’ve had many years of laying the foundation in the industry to show what’s possible. And now I think there’s enough proof points that people should really kind of embrace that. So there’s lots in between those two extremes, but I think they’re kind of the real kind of crooks for me.

Wes Ashworth (37:39)

Yeah, no, absolutely. Any, so again, more thinking about, you know, predictions and what’s to come and things like that – any major shifts that you anticipate happening within renewable energy kind of in the near future?

Gareth Evans (37:57)

I, well, I think what’s very interesting to me is, especially around supply chain aspects, is the security around having the materials to do this is going to become a very significant topic of conversation. I think it genuinely will create new superpowers, whether that be countries, I think it will change borders. I think it will create conflict. Like ExxonMobil, the biggest oil and gas company in the world just invested in a lithium mine in the US. Like that’s how times have changed. And if you’d have asked them, would they do that a few years ago? I think the answer would have been no. And I think, so I think the biggest businesses in the world, the biggest countries are realizing that energy sovereignty is the big, next trend and we have to embrace it and we have to get ahead of it and we have to proactively position our businesses and our countries to be able to get access to affordable, reliable, clean power because that’s what drives everything.

Wes Ashworth (39:04)

Yeah, no doubt about it. Again, as we kind of get into this too, and again, just trying to get as much out of you as we can, I guess, reflecting back on your career and what you’ve done so far, through achievements or moments that just stand out as particularly fulfilling – any of those that come to mind that the audience could hear and you could share with us?

Gareth Evans (39:30)

All people-orientated for sure. Like the best moments are always kind of having the wins or the moments in the trenches with people. For me, kind of one of the most rewarding moments in our journey is, you know, the first time I tried to raise money. I’d never raised money before. I was a first time CEO. I’d come out of 15 years in a corporate and I ended up probably pitching the business, so, 150 times or more to different investors. Because it was a new industry, a new product for a new industry, people just didn’t understand it. They didn’t know how to quantify it. But with support from our internal team, with support from advisors, and with the right investors who truly saw the vision and the story, that’s when things unlock. And I think it’s that persistence, it’s those moments of beating your head against the wall and thinking like it’s game over and then coming through and on the other side, kind of having a, having a little win, but not dwelling on it for too long and knowing you’ve got to crack on. I think they’re the moments that are sort of most memorable.

Wes Ashworth (40:43)

Yeah, that’s so good. And remarkable, I mean, to go through and I think, as you said, pitch it 150 times, you know, get those, those no’s and rejections and everything else. So you know, considering, let’s say someone else, a founder right now that’s taking on that same journey. Maybe they’ve never had to seek out funding before. What would you tell them knowing what you know now, 150 pitches later and achieving the success, what did you learn during that process?

Gareth Evans (41:15)

I think, don’t put on a mask and try and be something you’re not. I think be genuine, be real, kind of stick to your guns in terms of your mission and passion and purpose. But then adapt very purposefully based on the feedback you get after each pitch, because investors have a very specific way and specific formulas by which they operate. And so you have to be able to very quickly address whether you fit in their risk profile box, whether you fit in their stage of investment, whether you fit in the, some people look for teams, some people look for money, some people look for IP. So you need to very quickly try and figure out what they’re looking for and then whether you’re a right fit for them and actually not being afraid to say, it doesn’t feel like this is a fit, let’s kill this call early. Or can I practice my pitch on you because I don’t think this is good, but I’d love your feedback. And just being really open because people do want to help

Wes Ashworth (42:19)

Yeah. And I think that transparency, right, and staying true to who you are and what you’re, you know, bringing to the table and those kinds of things, I think that’s, that’s critical and it is important to find the right fit at the end of the day. You don’t want to be somebody you’re not, or represent something that’s not exactly what it is and end up in the wrong fit where it’s… you know, you’ve seen that happen a lot of times where you go down the path and it doesn’t end well. So I think all of that is really, really sound advice for the industry. But I think as individuals, period, that’ll get you very far in your career listening to that advice. So cool. So in the greater context of renewable energy, if you just think about this great industry, where it’s headed, what has been the biggest challenge? What does success look like? How do you measure success in your mind when you look at it?

Gareth Evans (43:16)

For us, our Northstar is kind of profitable and sustainable megawatts deployed. So if we can facilitate more systems being built that are high quality and meet a specific customer need and/or objective, that’s success. And doing that repeatable, repeatedly at scale is kind of the crux, you know, I think as a society, as a community, as an industry. We know how to build big one-off projects very well. We don’t know how to do lots and lots of smaller projects at scale in a really efficient manner. So that’s success, is when buying an on-site energy system is like you going on Amazon today and buying your next pair of sneakers. Like that’s where we wanna get it to.

Wes Ashworth (44:10)

Yeah, I love it. Love the analogy as well. No, cool. And I think, you know, as we view this and as you’re talking through things, you just, you get this, just feel, you know, for where things are headed, what it’s gonna take. I think the mindset behind it in your approach and methodology is critical, and I think it’s going to take each and every one of us, and kind of coming together and continuing to collaborate and put stuff out there and help spread knowledge and bringing others in. So I love it.

I really have enjoyed the conversation and I think I personally gained a lot. I know the audience will gain as a lot as well. So, you know, I appreciate your time and coming here and being able to share with the audience. And as always, you know, I think if you enjoy the conversation, you know, please share it with a colleague, you know, help us spread the knowledge to spread the word, go check out Gareth’s podcast as well, which is excellent, you know. Don’t forget to subscribe rate, review the podcast and stay tuned for our next episode coming up, but Gareth, thanks so much for your time, thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to future conversations.

Gareth Evans (45:27)

Appreciate you, Wes. Thanks for sharing the awareness and the education. It’s awesome.