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More than a decade ago, Steve Johanns became fascinated with the idea of figuring out how the energy industry would look if it worked like the Internet, with people everywhere contributing to it. With his cofounder, Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, he launched a company to pursue that idea. Veriown, a distributed energy company, is working to extend energy to billions of people who have never had a reliable energy source.
“I believe that the next 20 years will be the most transformative in all of human history,” says Johanns, who serves as president and CEO of Veriown. “That’s saying something, considering all that the past 20 years have delivered. But right now companies everywhere are building on advancements in technology and communications, resulting in a convergence like we’ve never seen.”
Johanns advises entrepreneurs to take the long view of their business, build a core team that can help the company grow, and learn from their mistakes:
“You may have an idea that works right now, but how will it fare in one, five or ten years? Before getting started, you have to test your idea to make sure it makes sense in the long term and at scale. In other words, don’t just capitalize on the moment—make sure your business concept is sustainable. Once you’ve got a viable concept, the next critical factor is your team. I believe that the core group you start with has a huge impact on your long-term success. Most business owners don’t pay enough attention to that element. Your ‘dirty dozen’—the first 12 people you bring on board—sets the tone for your corporate culture and can affect your next thousand employees. And hiring those initial team members is not just about each person’s résumé or past performance; it’s about having the right blend of heart, passion, dedication, skills and ability to execute.”
To read the rest of Steve’s story and the stories of other small business owners like Steve, download our eBook, “What I wish I knew.”