Toronto-based ONEnergy is an industry leader in supplying affordable energy and energy efficient products for a wide range of customers. Ray de Ocampo is the CFO of ONEnergy, and Sandro Costa is the company’s Vice-President, Energy Efficiency.
When and why did you first start thinking about exporting as part of your business?
ONEnergy is a fast-growing, dynamic energy management firm serving commercial, industrial, multi-residential and residential customers in Canada and the U.S. via its ONEnergy™ and Sunwave™-branded energy and energy-efficiency businesses. ONEnergy has sold electricity to residential and commercial customers in the north-eastern U.S. since its inception three years ago. We have a customer base of over 45,000 in the United States. We are, therefore, very familiar with operating and marketing in the U.S. market. The American electricity markets generate most of our revenue.
What was your export journey like to get to where you are today?
We started by selling electricity in the U.S. market and we are now on the verge of marketing a solar energy storage product in Canada and the U.S. The solar energy storage market is growing rapidly because of advances in technology and regulatory changes in both Canada and the U.S. that encourage energy storage.
Is there a specific story/anecdote from your company’s history that you would consider a critical moment for your export journey?
From the very beginning of ONEnergy’s inception we have considered the U.S. market a top priority. The American electricity markets generates almost 80% of our revenue.
What is the biggest difference between selling in Canada and selling in another country? How did you adapt to that difference?
Business moves at a faster pace in the U.S. and tends to more entrepreneurial. ONEnergy adapted to the U.S. market by placing a greater emphasis on marketing and finding good channel partners. We are exploring opportunities in the Caribbean market where the market is even more highly entrepreneurial and the regulatory environment is still developing. Our ability to tackle that setting stems from our experience building ONEnergy from the ground-up within a quickly changing market.
Has exporting abroad changed the way you market/sell your products/services in Canada?
No, we have maintained the same approach to marketing in Canada. Canada is still our main market and we know what works best for our Canadian customers.
What have you learned from exporting that has benefitted your sales/operations in Canada?
We have learned how important it is to develop good business channel partners.
Can you share a “best lesson learned” from a challenging exporting experience?
We would have been further ahead if we had had a better understanding of the potential channel partners in the U.S. Unfortunately, this information only seems to be available through experience. Energy and energy management is highly regulated in most countries. Our experience in Canada allowed us to get familiar with the regulatory framework in the U.S. very quickly, however, local experts were required in certain circumstances.
What is the #1 thing new SMEs need to know about exporting and trade?
Not only is in-depth knowledge of your market important but also the marketing and delivery of those service and products is crucial.
What is one characteristic that you believe every exporter should possess?
Every exporter should possess an incredible amount of perseverance. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Behind every success are years of work and a very high degree of dedication.