Tell us about yourself and your business?
I was born in Leogane and immigrated to the US at 13. After high school, I served for 4 years in the Marine Corps where I earned a combat action ribbon for participating in Desert Storm/Desert Shield. Upon leaving the service, I attended the University of Illinois and earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering. My general field is energy with expertise hydrogen production, environmental services, and electricity generation.
I founded Innovative Energy Solution about 12 years ago to develop cutting edge waste-to-energy technologies. We have developed a number of waste-to-energy processes including transformation of wood, municipal solid wastes, coal, and petroleum toxic wastes into clean energy. We recently obtained our second patent for the SuperATR process that converts extremely toxic wastes into ultra-clean energy. We have performed research services for the Department of Energy, US Army, Air Force and others. We have also developed environmental abatement products for major oil companies.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture? How did the idea for your business come about?
The base technology was derived from my doctoral thesis. After obtaining my doctorate, we further developed the technology and applied it to transform hydrogen sulfide (petroleum toxic wastes) to hydrogen and sulfur. At the present time; the benign disposal of this waste, required by law, is extremely expensive. Our technology will cut disposal cost by almost 50%.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would change very little. Perhaps, I would take some more business courses in college and possibly even earn an MBA. I did not expect to be an entrepreneur.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
There are many skills needed for an entrepreneur. In my opinion, the three that has helped me more are:
- Be a good listener: listen to your customers and your employees.
- Know how to delegate.
- Know how to sell.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Some of my failures are taking excessive risks. As an entrepreneur, taking risks is required; especially at the beginning of the start-up phase. But taking excessive risks can be fatal. I am deriving a number of measures to mitigate taking excessing risks.
What motivates you?
I am motivated by individuals who survive and push forward against all odds.
How do you define success?
My personal definition of success is to take on challenging tasks, regardless of how big or small, and accomplishing them.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
I do not think there is a pattern or formula to be a successful entrepreneur. I would say that there are characters: notably willing to take risks, willing to surround one with smart people, perseverance, a host of others.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I have a number of figures I hold in high regard to include Toussaint Louverture, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Jean-Jacques Dessallines, George Washington, and many others. But my greatest one is Henry Christophe.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
At the present time, we are in the process of transforming from primarily a government contractor to being a project developer. We are developing a number of energy and chemical projects in the Midwest. In the next ten to twenty years, we hope to be a serious player in the US methanol market.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship can be fun for the most part but one has to be ready for it. The three pieces of advices I would give to aspiring entrepreneurs are:
- Be ready to persevere.
- Be ready to work long hours.
- Try to get some sale kills.
What do you think can be done for Haiti to develop financial assistance without having to be reliant upon others in times of crisis?
In my opinion, the best way for the Diaspora to help is to invest in Haiti. For financial assistance in times of crisis, the Diaspora might want to develop an emergency fund managed by a global Diaspora Federation.
Do you believe a campaign highlighting the positives of Haiti would be worth exploring to take away the stigma of it being impoverished?
Definitely. Haiti has a lot of positives as well as a rich history. For now, the prospects are not looking good and we would like to turn that around.
Would you recommend NAHP to Haitian students and professionals? Why?
I do recommend the NAHP to all Haitians and will continue to do so. I believe that organizations such as the NAHP are very much needed in the Haitian communities to mentor young Haitians. I hope that the NAHP continues to grow and mentor young Haitians in the various communities.