Marv Schwartz of Visualized Energy
Meet Dr. Marv Schwartz, founder of Visualized Energy, a Youngstown-based energy management consulting service that allows customers to view their usage via a detailed online display.
What is the idea behind Visualized Energy?
Most companies manage raw goods, production, inventory, shipping, personnel and many other aspects of a business. But when it comes to utilities, they only pay for them; they don't manage them. Why are companies so careful about everything else and then just go ahead and pay for utilities?
What does your company do to address this issue?
An electric, gas or water bill doesn't really tell you what's going on in terms of usage. We log use over time, on a 15-minute interval basis. Using this data you can figure out how to conserve energy and reduce hours of peak demand.
When you're paying about $10 dollars a kilowatt, a bad half hour can cost a lot money. We had a supermarket getting its peak demand at 7:30 a.m. during a refrigeration defrost cycle. Our system allowed the supermarket to change its timing on the cycle, saving them about $7,000 a year. All (clients) have to do is log on to a web page that shows their specific use over time. No way you'd see that kind of detail on an electric bill.
Who is your typical client?
Clients are commercial and industrial with a utilities bill of $10,000 a month or more. Our system looks for patterns (of usage). Patterns can vary wildly when a business ramps up or ramps down for the day, so it's a great opportunity for a company to conserve energy. We have about 100 clients, most clustered in our region.
In addition to savings, our technology can also help companies get energy efficiency grants. We had one client on the West Coast get a $1.3 million grant for improving the efficiency of their air compressors.
What kind of savings do your clients accrue?
The average savings is about five percent of their utilities bill, as long as they're using the data provided. Our system won't save energy unless you're serious about using the data.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
Out of college I worked for a startup, and I've also given my time to the Youngstown Business Incubator
(YBI) to help other businesses. Starting my own business (with co-founder Ralph Berge) seemed like the natural thing to do.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
YBI is a fabulous organization. They looked for opportunities in which we might fit, and then stepped up to make the introductions. There are good companies in Ohio and the incubator system here is great. We also have wonderful universities with some talented young programmers.
What's the biggest challenge you've encountered?
Putting together a management team while competing against larger markets is a challenge. Other parts of the country have an organized tech culture, which we don't have here. That can make it tough to find talent and to talk to people going through similar issues. If your business doesn't have the right people behind it, you're going to lose.
Can you share some of your favorite off-time activities or hobbies?
I'm involved with the Case Connection Zone
, the nation’s first gigabit fiber-to-the-home community. I'm also a multi-engine instrument-rated commercial pilot, although I haven't flown for a while.
Interviewed by Douglas J. Guth