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Vienna Zhou: I Believe That My Experience With Clean Technology and Renewable Energy Consulting and My Prior Management Experience and Educational Credentials Earned Allows Me To Stand Out as an Entrepreneur

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Vienna Zhou

Vienna Zhou of TROES Corp. .

Tell us about yourself?

Founder and CEO, of TROES Corp., an energy storage company with a vision to become a global champion within the decentralized energy environment, while accelerating the worlds transition into decarbonized energy and building energy infrastructure resilience.

With a Master’s in Engineering, and an MBA, I have spent over 15 years within the energy efficiency and renewable energy industry as a district general manager, consultant, managing director, senior partner and now founder.

I have worked for companies such as Carrier and consulted for the City of Toronto. After understanding that technology in the early 2000s was exponentially growing after the internet adaptation, the idea that we could create many things to change the world was inspiring to me.

With an extensive background in energy efficiency and renewable energy, I realized that energy storage paired with technology was the solution to revolutionize the way people generate and use energy.

Thus, after a comprehensive study of industrial trends, technology developments, market needs and understanding that the timing was right, I entered the energy storage industry through the creation of TROES Corp.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

One of the biggest misconceptions people have when it comes to start-ups is the difficulty of starting.

I believe that the best advice I can give to an entrepreneur wanting to launch a start-up is to not be afraid of being bold.

Launching a tried and tested good or service could be considered the easier act of starting a business, as where you start from is not the most important; rather it is the continuous efforts on innovation that is.

If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?

The one tip that I would provide myself if I could go back in time to any moment in my journey would be to make sure to have the resources such as money, time, skill, business partners and so on to execute your idea.

Ensure that you make a holistic evaluation of your business and judge with two things in mind: that your business cannot make money for the next 3 years, and that you have lost all your investments.

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After that evaluation, conclude whether you can handle it or not. If the answer to the question is yes, then focus on it – establish your full commitment to it.

What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?

TROES Corp. was founded by myself, Vienna Zhou. Through my career leading up to the founding of TROES Corp., I had a wide scope of networks including renewable project developers, project investors, end-users such as government offices and so forth.

Through my experiences and communications, I had accumulated rich technology insights as well as an ecosystem of resources.

I believe that my experience with clean technology and renewable energy consulting and my prior management experience and educational credentials earned allows me to stand out as an entrepreneur.

As a Master’s in Engineering and MBA recipient and equipped with over 15 years within the energy efficiency and renewable energy industry as a district general manager, consultant, managing director, and senior partner allowed myself to become a formidable leader and entrepreneur within the industry.

Furthermore, I like to believe in whole heartedly being fearless, and the true belief of “any problem could be solved.” All-in-all, this is why I believe I stand out as an entrepreneur.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

Nothing fancy, but as a CEO for a start-up, I was faced with all questions to be answered or solved. From making a spread sheet to executing a strategy.

I cannot solve all the problems in one day, therefore, I developed a habit of taking electronic notes down through excel and planning.

Once a task was finished, I generally would complete my “list” in an organized fashion.

Organization, time management, and clear focus are traits to strengthen through habits such as mentioned above.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

The powerful trend of electrification, digitalization and decarbonization drive the world towards an energy transformation. Trends such as the net zero initiatives, and EV penetration have played a critical role towards this transformation.

Our existing grid infrastructure is outdated and has difficulties accommodating this transformation.

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Numerous pain points arise from the traditional grid to the energy transformations such as rising electricity cost caused by aging grid infrastructure, demand-supply constraints, unstable power, inability to integrate emerging renewable systems, high emission of traditional energy sources and much more.

A modern example is the abundance of EV chargers connected to the grid – it will be very difficult for the existing aging grid to satisfy the peak demand, in turn, the reflecting demand charge from grid during peak hours will prevent investors to invest in EV charger infrastructure.

The same pain was shared when more than triple electrical devices and home appliances were used in comparison to 1980’s due to technological innovation.

To solve these grid pain points, rather than upgrading aging and outdated grid infrastructure, adding a Microgrid structure will be the faster, more economic, and more environmentally friendly solution.

A microgrid is made up of four parts: alternative generation, energy storage, a microgrid control system and distribution automation.

While all these components are important, energy storage and control truly serve as the backbone of the system.

A battery energy storage and control system could store the power from any type of distributed energy source through an electrochemistry process and release it when necessary.

In the future, Microgrid will be a critical structure to assisting the centralized grid and we anticipate it co-existing or even replacing the centralized grid and becoming the mainstream of power supply. Energy storage is the future.

ES will play a major role in the decarbonization of global pollution and play an integral part in supporting the grid.

ES can run completely independent, which is great for remote communities that rely on a weak infrastructure, or it can sustain power demanding grids that may have aging infrastructure.

Where do you see your business in five years?

TROES Corp. will continue to build a Global Champion in the decentralized energy environment, accelerating the worlds transition into decarbonized energy and building energy infrastructure resilience for all communities.

TROES Corp. in five years time, will be a solution serving not only North America, but all of Americas and Europe, and ultimately, world-wide.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?

The biggest challenge for TROES Corp. will be the barrier customers have to overcome in purchasing energy storage – limited knowledge of battery energy storage systems.

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Customers will commonly go through a learning curve where they either are recommended the battery from others they may know or walked through a cost-benefit analysis to see if a system can resolve their paint points.

TROES Corp. has actively and successfully educated potential and current customers on battery energy storage systems including the items that need attention such as the composition of their electricity bills, and the nature of their power demand.

In addition, TROES Corp. offers and performs simulation and high-level project analysis for the customer and based on this, the customer will have a total understanding on pursuing a project with us.

Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?

Since our founding in 2018, even half of the time is during pandemic, TROES Corp. has generated revenue since Y2019, with +6 MWh projects contracted/installed, and sold in 4 countries.

How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?

At first, when the company began with 2 employees (including myself), I was a salesperson and was able to solidify a deal within the year of founding.

As years progressed, and another deal under my belt, I was able to build a strong sales team to exercise a proactive sales initiative; whereby, we focus on the intersection of geography, industry type, and storage application.

What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?

As mentioned earlier in the article, the one tip that I would give to fellow start-up founders is to be bold with your ideas, be realistic, and continue innovating.

And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?

My hope is for TROES to become a Global Champion in decentralized energy environment, accelerating the world’s transition into decarbonized energy and building energy infrastructure resilience for all communities and while building this, I will continue to be a mother and role model to my two children and a better leader every day.

Follow TROES Corp. on Twitter or Linkedin.

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