“It was only supposed to be a quick pint”, Cori Calvert laughs as she begins to explain in her Californian drawl, how she managed to find herself talking to barman Brian O’Callaghan 12 months ago, who would later become her business partner and co-founder of Glas Éireann Solutions. “I was on a girl’s holiday here in Ireland, and I noticed that there were opportunities for businesses to decrease their energy spend each month with just a few simple fixes.” It was something Cori was an expert on. As a Managing Director of a United States Federal Government natural resources conservation agency, Cori oversaw the implementation of over 400 energy performance contracts (EPC) including VFD, solar panels, and small wind technology to small businesses in the US and Caribbean.
It took many months of meetings, skype calls, emails and phonecalls before they realised the enormity of the potential of the idea they had stumbled upon. It dawned on them both that they were about to bring the ESCO (energy service company) business model to Ireland. And it was then that the hard work started!
You see, although Brian always saw the merits of energy saving measures, he could never justify the extensive capital expenditure needed. With that in mind, the team set about structuring a business model which would include finance, meaning ZERO capital outlay from their clients. Next it was to Cori and her wealth of technical knowledge. Quickly realising that this model would only work if all different energy areas of the SME could be targeted, the team got to work on identifying technical equipment which would guarantee savings of up to 60%.
From here, throw months of work on market research, finding suitable office space close to the University of Limerick, recruitment, legals, finances, and many many kettles of water, and the result is a complete one stop shop ESCO, ready to revolutionise the Irish market, saving Irish businesses millions on their energy bills, whilst significantly lowering future energy price risk exposure without costing the businesses a cent in capital outlay.
Fast forward 12 months and Glas Éireann Solutions has taken off. “It’s been an exciting and busy few months for us”, Brian explains, “Potential customers across all sectors in Ireland have already been approached during customer solution based interviews and the response has been very positive. Not only has the business been welcomed by customers, but as a startup we have been welcomed into the business community with open arms. We have been invited to numerous networking events, and we have already received financial backing from the Local Enterprise Office here in limerick. We have also just moved into the Nexus Innovation Centre based on the UL Campus giving us access to the most up to date research and development in the field, and have recently hired a Chief Technology Officer and VP of Sales.”
"We feel that loyalty to our formation is very important to us," Cori continues. "Sometimes people in the energy conservation field can be seen as hard nosed, stuffy and even boring. We are helping change that image by making energy sexy again. We were formed in an Irish pub, and that is the conversational tone that we continue to use in all our dealings. We like to be less formal, and break everything down into simple everyday language, language that you would hear in conversation in a pub. That has been very important to us too, as one of our core principles is to remain as transparent and as open to our clients as possible. Our product and model can sometimes be viewed as too good to be true. But honestly, it is not, there are no catches, and it is up to us to help educate our clients and potential clients, and open their minds and wallets to huge energy savings and reductions in carbon footprints."