Walid Halty is a 23 year old philanthropist whom has combined his purpose to serve others and his highly profitable solar energy business to revolutionize the solar industry and attack the world’s energy crisis head on.
Walid defines himself as a philanthropist first, having been first recognized by Nestle for altruism and academic excellence at 16 years old.
As an innovator and trailblazer, he is on “a mission to empower.”
In less than 10 months Dvinci Energy (his current organization) has generated over $10 Million in revenue with an additional $20 Million in its project pipeline for 2018, and a projected $75 Million in revenue by year 2.
Walid is someone who is leaving normal behind, becoming the best version of himself, and creating things that matter.
I had the unique opportunity to spend time with this Future Shark pick his brain for this exclusive interview.
Here is our value-packed conversation below:
What is your favorite quote?
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” – Robert Swan
What are you working on?
At Dvinci, we are building one of the fastest-growing, most profitable tech companies in the world.
We are empowering communities to work sustainably by giving them more freedom & control through low-carbon, bankable, sustainable technologies (i.e. Solar).
We are currently saving clients an est. $45M in utilities – while also reducing 8,760 tons/year in CO2 emissions– with a goal of $1 billion in clients’ savings by 2019
How did you come up with this idea?
If you know anything about energy, you know that everyone needs it. It powers our homes, our hospitals, banks, schools. However, the way we get our energy is outdated & unsustainable.
This has created an opportunity.
As they exponentially cut thousands of pounds of CO2, reduce the cost of living, and empower communities, renewables are now the mainstream form of energy.
Solar, being the #1, most bankable, sustainable and economical technology, has caused a gold rush.
In response to this window of opportunity, companies like SolarCity, NextStepLiving, NRG Energy adopted a “grow-at-all-costs” mentality.
Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for us, this led to the creation of business models with high-cash-burn, low margins, poor customer experience and operational deficiencies that has inevitably cost them their companies.
We entered the industry with a new turn-key, more profitable & sustainable approach that allows us to deliver great tech at a lower cost.
How did you come up with the name Dvinci?
Da Vinci was the theme of last year’s Burning Man festival. At this event I had a profound moment where I got the intuitive hunch to name our company after him.
Leonardo Da Vinci conceptualized concentrated solar in the early 16th century. He is widely considered as one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived, “a universal genius.”
At our core, we strive to embody the soul of Da Vinci.
I envisioned us competing with Tesla very early on, so “Dvinci” was even more suiting for that purpose.
How is your company different?
In an industry riddled with inconsistency and failures, we have a business model that works.
Dvinci entered the industry with a new approach designed to give the end-user the highest quality product, lowest price, fastest turn-around and most tailored experience in the solar industry.
Most importantly, our direct approach stimulates behavioral changes – on an individual and community level.
New regulations have decreased bank lending significantly in the solar space, and as a result created an attractive opportunity for someone to fill the gap.
Our price-discipline has guided our partnerships with every financier in the solar industry, which provide flexibility and access to unique low-cost financing options from private and public leading investors to fill this financing need in the solar space.
In addition to financial certainty, we are empowered with preferred pricing across the board for all our equipment & technologies – which allows us to pass the savings to our customers.
How is your company doing right now?
To date, we have generated $10.55M in revenue in less 10 months, with $20M in our residential & commercial pipeline. Our Forecasted revenue is $75M by end of 2018 & $350M by 2019.
We have no debt/outside funding, and in less than 1 year we are at around 40 employees.
As of September 2017, Dvinci is saving it’s clients an estimated $45 Million in utilities – while simultaneously reducing 8,760 tons/year in CO2 emissions– with a goal of $1 billion in clients’ savings by 2019.
Our projects include domestic residential and commercial, and international utility scale projects in Jamaica, Indonesia, Guinea, Sri Lanka and Liberia.
How is your company making a difference in your market?
We have a unique portfolio of technologies, partnerships, and developers that allow us to create a customer-centric experience that saves them money, maximizes their awareness, and solves the global energy crisis at the same time.
Our blend of deep industry experience, cutting-edge business model, and highly customized approach allow us to meet the demands of the dynamic solar energy market.
Why do you call yourself a philanthropist?
Any business or venture should aim at serving people and improving lives as much as possible – that’s common knowledge.
And, the definition of philanthropy is… the practice of giving (whether service, time or money) to help make life better for other people.
At Dvinci, we believe that it is our obligation as global citizens to serve others.
This is why philanthropy is weaved throughout our internal team culture, activities, consumer brand.
Philanthropy is at the core of our decision-making.
We have donated $25,200 in educational scholarships in 2017, with $100k scheduled to be donated in 2018, and a goal of $1mill in 2019.
What is a challenge you are facing right now?
We are going through hyper-growth right now. Which involves balancing the need for supporting infrastructure without the infrastructure being too far ahead.
This is one of the more difficult and ongoing challenges any hyper-growth company faces.
This means having enough structure in place that growth is not out of control – but not so much that the structure impedes your ability to adapt quickly.
With the guidance of our advisory board, we are aware this requires equal parts of improvisation and planning, and we are really excited for the future of our company.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have…
Here is my best advice:
1. Experiment rapidly and often.
Experimentation can be your competitive advantage as the best source of new information.Experiment wisely based on your experience, intuition, available data, and assessment of risk).
2. Be ahead of your competition.
Wayne Gretzky, used to say that he didn’t skate to where the puck is, but rather where the puck is going to be. In business, look for trends so you too can skate to where the trend is going.
This involves studying not only your competition in your industry, but other businesses in other industries as well. This allows you to have a multidisciplinary approach to business because you have insight and information that spans across multiple industries.
3. Be fast.
No matter your business or market, expect to operate in a flexible, dynamic fast moving environment as the norm.
To thrive in change, you must understand how to give into it, flow with it and drive strength from it. This involves maintaining a healthy balance of urgency and crisis in your organization.
What have you done to build a thriving team culture ?
We empower our employees through making them think and feel like owners.
This creates a self-sustaining, winning culture. It also gives our people a sense of pride, balanced with a dose of personal investment and accountability.
We constantly communicate the future state of our company with our team. Our heavy focus on feedback/communication has created an amazing sense of community within our organization.
In terms of recruitment, we find people who can do the job well, and are motivated to continue growing their skills.
We are looking for people who want to grow with us and stick around for the long-term.
This is why we cultivate and train our people, especially the leaders.
Lastly, we thrive to be the best people in the world, not just best in our business.
Teach us something that we can implement right away…
1. Measure everything.
You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Every activity has metrics attached. Know the numbers of your business. Assign metrics to all departments. Review these metrics weekly, some daily.
Set aggressive targets. This creates responsibility for one another, accountability for results, and appreciation for facts/data.
2. Feedback is your best friend.
Community is built with communication. Communicate fast & deep. Immerse yourself in real information with real people, so you can react in real-time.
You do this through engaging in a cooperative mutually beneficial dialogue – with your employees, customers and suppliers. In doing so, you begin to develop an intimate understanding of their likes, needs & priorities.
This puts you in a position to find the next frontier of value you can create/provide for your people.
3. Constantly question everything you do.
Train your people to ask: “how can we change the rules of the game?
What can we do that no one ever thought of to achieve our goal?
Can we do this in a different way? how can we do more/deliver more value?
How can we differentiate ourselves?”
What’s something new you’ve learned in the past month?
A couple things I have learned in the past few months.
1. Fewer suppliers means fewer opportunities for error, less cost, less confusion & greater consistency. Thus, less is more when it comes to suppliers.
2. Take your customers’ business needs just as seriously as your own, and build a meaningful memorable experience so you win customers for life.
3. Deploy scalable and virtual information technologies to reduce obstacles between the flow of information. This allows the company to respond to information the right way at any given moment creating transparency and speed within an organization.
As Bill Gates says, this allows a business to operate “at the speed of thought.”
What do you think you do better than most people?
Our velocity is the ultimate source of our competitive edge.
At Dvinci, we maximize time out of every step of the process.
We focus on execution & speed over everything else.
We are constantly experimenting, trying to find the next frontier of value we can create or provide for our customers.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
#1) Focus on your strengths.
Align your complementary strengths with your partners. Just like airlines don’t make airplanes, nor do restaurants raise chickens to serve their customers. Find out where you can add the most value to your customers, & find great partners to do the rest.
#2) Swing for hits, not homeruns.
No one is batting 1.000. If your competition is batting .300, you want to bat .350 or .400.
You can do this by constantly asking, “How can we do more/deliver more value? How can we differentiate ourselves?”
#3) Be a voracious learner.
In order to understand customers, employees, competitors, suppliers, the market, & world you need to be a constant learner. As Ghandi says, “Live as if you’ll die tomorrow and learn as if you’ll live forever.”
What are some of the best books you’ve ever read?
“Business at the speed of thought” – Bill Gates
“Direct from Dell” – Michael Dell
“The First Billion is the Hardest” – T. Boone Pickens
“Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul.” – Howard Schultz
“E myth” – Michael Gerber
“BOLD” – Peter Diamandis
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution” – Klaus Schwab
“7L: The Seven Levels of Communication” – Michael Maher
“Leonardo Da Vinci” – Walter Isaacson
Can you tell us where you see the solar industry going?
In the last decade, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 68%.
In 2006 – 30,000 homes had solar.
In 2013 – 400,000 homes installed solar. (more than 1,000 % increase)
In 2016 – 1 Million + homes with solar.
Prediction: 2 million should be hit in 2018 and 4 million by 2022. Total installed U.S. solar PV capacity is expected to nearly triple over the next five years. There are still over 300 million more homes that need solar.
In addition, between 2016 – 2021: $144 billion of total investment will go into the U.S. solar market that will fuel research, development and adoption.
There is a great window of opportunity right now in this industry. We are leading the way in this growth.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
1.3 billion people are without electricity (1 out of every 5 in the world), a privilege that drives machinery, economy, banks, hospitals, & education.
Dvinci Energy is on the cutting-edge of this “Great Transition” to renewable sources of energy, which is inevitably necessary for our survival.
As utility rates & carbon emissions rise, the marketplace need is at an all-time high – so we expect ourselves being in an even better state to serve more people over the next coming years.
Lastly, what do the words “Leave Normal Behind” mean to you?
Great question. To me, Leave Normal Behind means to have NO FEAR and BREAK THINGS. Set a new standard.
And most importantly, “anything…. absolutely anything is possible.”
Walid is wise beyond his years and it was my pleasure to give this exclusive interview for Future Sharks.
As of the Founder of Leave Normal Behind, I am frequently chatting with leaders and visionaries who are pioneering their industries.
If you, or anyone you know, is leaving normal behind by becoming the best version of themselves and creating things that matter then please connect with me via email firstname.lastname@example.org