“Alumni Spotlight” UMD Center for Social Value Creation

April 24, 2013 Written by  Comments Print

Josh Notes has ten years of team leading entrepreneurial experience. He is one of three co-founders of greeNEWit, a company formed to help businesses and homeowners walk toward a more sustainable smart grid system. Notes and the company are devoted to achieving true sustainability in regards to the way we use and produce energy. Featured in the October 2009 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, Notes is also the visionary behind several social programs. Some of his endeavors include co-creating the first solar powered rock concert in 2008, starting the OUR Schools Program and Agents of Change division within greeNEWit, along with establishing the Baltimore franchise of AArrow Advertising in 2009.

CSVC: Tell us a little about yourself.
NOTES: I completed my undergraduate degree from University of Maryland majoring in financial management and entrepreneurship in 2006. I utilized my time at the school to study business principles and to get actively involved in entrepreneurial ventures. I launched seven startups, most of them in the real estate space, between my senior in high school and my senior year in college. I learned some great lessons while developing these ventures. I co-founded greeNEWit with my business partners Jason Jannati and Matej Harangozo to green the energy industry and to help society become energy efficient.

CSVC: What was the idea and motivation behind greeNEWit?
NOTES: As the real estate market was crashing in 2007, we came up with the idea that laid the foundation for greeNEWit. The original concept was to serve people by optimizing their energy consumption and, in turn, save them money in an informative and educational way that would be relevant in the marketplace. We founded greeNEWit in January of 2008 and started performing home energy audits. Building on the success in this domain, we set a goal of completing more than a thousand energy audits in the next two years.

CSVC: What were the major challenges as you expanded the operations of greeNEWit?
NOTES: We quickly realized there was a great deal of inefficiency in the way utility programs were run. We used our free cash flow to build a software model to leverage economies of scale in our operations by digitizing all the paperwork done in the business. We also diversified to a wider sustainability platform for residential and commercial clients and scaled up our team to five crews. These crews were responsible for retrofitting apartments, following up with initial savings accounted for the customers, and encouraging them to consider more comprehensive retrofits for the entire apartment complex.
In five to six years, we aim to operate in the majority of the states in the USA, and will have launched international operations.

CSVC: What did you learn at the Smith school helped you in your career the most?
NOTES: I remember I took a class on entrepreneurship with Professor Oliver Schlake. He was instrumental in helping me understand that I was an entrepreneur and how can I hone my skills.In my perspective, applying the business school studies around an entrepreneurial idea that I was passionate about was a great experience. I always connected the concepts to the business ideas I was working on. For example, for the equity valuation class, instead of just doing the model for a huge publicly traded company, I would apply the same concepts for a small rehabilitation program.

CSVC: Is there anything that you think you would have done better while you were at school?
NOTES: I think I could have engaged more closely with my fellow students. As I compare the present student population with the ones while I was at school, there has been a great increase in the number of students interested in social value creation and sustainability. I could have partnered with my fellow classmates and faculty to motivate students to pursue interests in this field to develop an even more engaged community.I am still very well connected to the Smith community. I try to visit the school once every month to associate with social value creation and sustainability events.

CSVC: What advice would you give to students who want to pursue a career in energy sector?
NOTES: The energy sector is huge and involves all aspects of life. It can be sometimes daunting for the students to identify interests that they want to pursue. It might be a good idea to explore this domain via different internships with utilities, construction and other companies. I would also like to inspire students to embrace failure because we learn in our lives from our failures and not just from our successes.

CSVC: Would you be willing to share a fun fact about yourself?
NOTES: My three business partners and I also own the Baltimore franchise of the international outdoor advertising chain AArrow Advertising. This is the largest guerrilla marketing firm in the world. I spend a couple hours a week attracting customers to local businesses by dancing and doing tricks on the street corners.

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