Pulse Power wants to do energy the right way.
It’s a mentality the company’s founder and president, Rob Cantrell, wanted to instill not only in the business’ mission but also in the minds of the unique team he assembled this past year when he launched Pulse. The Texas-based energy service company takes a customer-first approach that fits in well in a state known for its booming retail energy industry.
“When I started Pulse, the goal and mission were to do things the right way. I wanted to create plans and products that are profitable but also benefit the customer. In the past, our industry has made the mistake of trying to squeeze every dollar out of them when we should be figuring out ways to benefit them and make a sustainable company.”Rob Cantrell said.
Pulse offers electricity for residential and commercial customers and is based in The Woodlands, TX.
The Early Years: Learning From the Best
Cantrell’s career started when he left telecom for the energy industry just after Texas deregulated its energy market in the early 2000’s. He observed the huge shift in the telecom industry and saw the same potential in energy.
In those early days, he was able to work with some storied names in Texas energy, including Marcie Zlotnik.
“Marcie is a legend. She gave me my start in 2005 as the vice president of sales and marketing at StarTex Power,” he said. “Along the way, I also was able to work with Rob Doty at Champion, as well as Daniel Cook at Tri Eagle,” he said.
The transition was tough in the beginning. It was a new world with new vocabulary, acronyms, nuances and operations. He recounts the first flyer he made that pitched StarTex to potential customers.
“It looked great but the information was wrong! People were still using it because it looked so good,” he said, chuckling at his early years. “Thankfully, the people I worked with were very patient with me.”
A Natural Entrepreneur: The Genesis of Pulse Power
Over time, however, Cantrell couldn’t escape the entrepreneurial spirit that led both his grandfathers and father to start their own business.
“I saw energy companies done several different ways and I wanted to do it on my own with the entire range of freedom that comes with starting your own business. The Texas retail market was my opportunity to do it, and to do it the right way.”Rob Cantrell said.
It wasn’t so much that other companies were doing it wrong; rather, Cantrell wanted to introduce his own creativity to the industry. He saw opportunities for innovation that he wanted to take advantage of.
Facing the Challenges: Pulse’s First Six Months
But, like any industry, the learning curve for his new company was steep. The main hurdle the company has faced in the first six months is the fear of change coupled with the creativity to create innovation.
“The biggest challenge so far is getting our vendors and partners and employees to look at things differently,” he said. “People are really stuck in the old way of doing things and people like staying in their comfort zone, which is true in our industry.”
Pulse firmly believes that success, in part, results from being courageous enough to try new things even when your current business model works well.
“For us to be successful we have to execute in areas in our expertise but also to try new things. In my opinion, if you aren’t failing in a few things you aren’t trying enough new things. If they don’t work, they don’t work and that’s fine,” he said.
Part of what makes Pulse tick, he said, is being innovative not only in their business practices but in how they hire.
“If you hire good people, they’ll be better at what they do than you are. We wanted to create a culture where we hire good talent and let them run their departments and not be afraid to try new things,” he said. “If my ideas are outdated in six months, we’ve done our job in creating the culture we want to create at Pulse.”
The company has purposely hired people of varying ages as well as various backgrounds. Pulse’s team includes people inside the industry as well as those outside the industry, including telecom and banking.
“I think it’s important to have a diverse group of folks and give them the freedom to express their ideas,” Cantrell said.
What Success Means for Pulse Power
From a scale perspective, Cantrell is interested in other markets but wants to thrive in Texas first before heading to other states.
“Our first priority is to put the blinders on, put our heads down and break even at, hopefully, the end of the year. Once we break even, we’ll evaluate our opportunities,” he said.
In a bigger sense, though, Pulse views success as being able to create change through being the best at what they do.
“I’d love to build a company that’s a leader or a catalyst for change. We certainly don’t have to be the biggest but we want to be the best,” he said. “We’d love to have people talking about the company from The Woodlands shaping the industry and doing things the right way. We want the big boys to wonder how we’re doing what we’re doing. That, to me, is success.”
ESG’s Sigma CC&B and DMS Helped Pulse Launch on a Compressed Timeline
Part of that success, of course, is partnering with the right companies at the right time. Pulse Power chose ESG’s Sigma CC&B for billing and their DMS for their back office EDI.
“Sometimes the more you know the less likely you are to choose a vendor. That was not the case with ESG, as both Pulse’s VP of operations and I had extensive experience with it previously to Pulse,” Cantrell said.
Based on that experience, they brought in ESG to work on the urgent timeline they had leading up to their company’s launch.
“We had compressed and urgent timelines we couldn’t risk with new tech. ESG got us up and running on an extremely compressed timeline,” Cantrell said. “The biggest advantage? They got us into the market up and running extremely fast.”
And, just like Pulse focuses on their customers to achieve success, ESG does the same, Cantrell said.
“We have a great relationship with ESG. We push them to implement our complex processes and systems and they always treat us as a valued partner and friend,” he said.
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