Udi Meirav: The CEO Physicist on an Air Quality Mission
enVerid is committed to developing leading products that deliver energy savings, while providing healthier indoor air quality (IAQ) worldwide. CEO and Founder, Udi Meirav provides us with his thoughts on his own trajectory and that of his company.
My company, enVerid Systems, is a technological leader in energy efficiency for buildings and, more broadly, what we call Air Care, which is an emerging industry. Our products are spearheading a new vision for how to best provide superior indoor air quality for building occupants, while reducing the enormous waste of energy and hardware that is typical of traditional HVAC systems. Back in 2010, I founded this company with my close friend and business partner, Dr. Israel Biran. Now, I feel as though we are punching way above our weight, in terms of the impact we are having on the industry.
A start-up CEO has many jobs, some of which are things only the CEO can do, others are things the CEO must participate in to maximise the company’s chances of success. I set the agenda and shaped the strategy for the company. Additionally, I am directly responsible for raising capital and communicating with my investors. Of course, it is on me to find and hire key team members, as well as keeping everybody accountable, focused and motivated.
Any CEO worth their salt must make it their priority to engage with customers, channels and key business partners. Plus, as the founder and technical pioneer, I still play a key role in the evolution of our technology and our products, which is the lifeblood of our company.
My career path has been ‘unorthodox’, so to speak. I served in the military for four years, then earned a PhD in Physics (at MIT) and started a career as a scientist, doing research in exotic semiconductor physics. However, I lacked the patience to be a scientist, and eventually opted to turn my impatience into an entrepreneurial asset. Nevertheless, my physics education has been invaluable throughout my career. Not only because of the knowledge and intellectual toolkit I acquired, but also because physicists are typically inculcated with a mindset that no topic is off limits, and that any problem can be taken a shot at. Thus, I have been involved in various capacities in areas ranging from LEDs to digital health, manufacturing and intellectual property. Excitingly, I am now leading a small team aiming to upend some key tenets of the world of HVAC.
Generally, I would say that my style is very informal. I genuinely like my employees and care about them. It is important for a CEO to get into the details, but it is also my view that a manager that is too busy and overscheduled is not a good manager. As such, you must leave time for yourself to think, time for others to reach you, time for the unexpected and for the non-urgent. This is one of the most important pieces of advice I can provide to young managers and CEOs.
Culture is an amazing thing, as it forms in a young company, and is exceptionally hard to change once it forms. The CEO in a smaller company, has several tools at their disposal to forge culture. One of them is hiring, and I have always insisted that I meet every candidate before they are hired, no matter how junior. This is less about screening or selection of candidates, than it is about messaging to the entire company that it matters deeply to me who is joining our company. Additionally, it is an opportunity for me to start a first-name-basis relationship and a chance to share my vision and expectations.
Beyond hiring, you try to set example by the little things, how you speak, how you dress, how you travel, when you show up, which privileges you take and which you do not. Another important tool is having regular all-hands meetings, which I like to do monthly – not always easy, especially in companies that are geographically dispersed. More generally, geographical dispersion is a major impediment to managing culture in a proactive fashion. Throughout my career, I have had better success in shaping culture when my company was in a single location. This has been an important lesson for me, as many business considerations drive companies to have geographical spread and remote employees.
Moving forwards, enVerid Systems has the potential to grow into a great company, one that makes a big difference. You know, there is nothing more important to life than air, not even water or energy. Let’s be clear, air quality first and foremost is indoor air quality since we spend 90% of our time indoors. Like so many things, we used to take air for granted until we could no longer do so. Developing the technological answers to provide good air to people all over the world is a great cause – and can become a very large business, to boot. All very exciting, because I believe enVerid is uniquely positioned to bring to the world the best technological solutions for air quality.
Address: 102 2nd Avenue, Needham, Massachusetts, 02494, USA
Phone: 001 617 795 4000