Brian Toll came to MIT Sloan for its expertise in technology and entrepreneurship. After graduating with his MBA, he went to New York where he worked on Wall Street in the telecom sector and then moved to Sprint Nextel as Director of Marketing. Brian credits his experience at Sprint Nextel and his MIT Sloan education with giving him the skills to start ecobeco, a company that helps families save energy, money, and the environment. ecobeco is now Maryland’s largest energy auditing company.
My MIT Sloan education has given me multi-disciplinary training in all the areas of running a small business. When I identified an underserved market in residential energy efficiency, an area I felt passionate about, I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, and ecobeco has more than exceeded my expectations in its first three years.
In 2008, Brian saw an opportunity when the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Maryland created Maryland Home Performance with Energy Star, a program to help improve the energy efficiency and comfort of existing homes. Previous programs supported only new homes by providing incentives to builders to provide efficiency upgrades. This helps consumers when buying a newly constructed home, however roughly 75% of U.S. housing stock is twenty or more years old. “There were very few firms providing recommendations to consumers in older homes in an easy to understand and integrated way. On their own, consumers make lots of mistakes. For example, if someone feels excessively cold in the winter, they may call the heating guy and he will tell them – ‘You need to buy a bigger unit.’ But a cold home can be caused by inadequate insulation, excessive air leaks in the building envelope, or a variety of structural or behavioral factors. The knee-jerk reaction to replace a furnace or to replace windows is almost never the best action. Consumers need more information about their whole home so they can properly prioritize investments in comfort and energy efficiency.”
As a result, Brian founded ecobeco, a bias-free third party providing eco-friendly home recommendations and solutions to reduce energy costs and improve the comfort of one’s home. In the last three years, ecobeco has become the largest home efficiency company in Maryland, providing energy audits to over 2,000 customers and completing efficiency improvements in over 500 Maryland homes.
Brian often motivates his employees by discussing the bigger picture, particularly the global warming and pollution impacts of energy production. “Working with individual households is a lot of work for small energy savings in real terms, but what keeps me enthusiastic is thinking about all of the people working in this industry and how what we are accomplishing together is pretty impressive.”
These days, one key way that Brian keeps tabs on new technologies, innovations and practices in energy and sustainability is to stay in touch with the MIT Energy Club and the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan. As he says, “There are always people at MIT and MIT Sloan researching these issues, so I stay in touch to find out about innovations that will have an impact on my customers.”
To find out more about ecobeco http://www.ecobeco.com