Yes Energy News and Insights

Part 1: Think, Feel, Do.  My framework for transitioning into the future of the power industry.

This is part one of an article written by Yes Energy’s Founder and CEO, Michael McNair. Michael founded Yes Energy in 2008 with a vision of saying ‘yes’ to customers and the needs of the nodal power market. That vision blossomed into the company that Yes Energy is today - the leading nodal market data solutions provider.

Yes Energy recently hosted our annual Customer Summit in our hometown of Boulder, CO. This event is near and dear to my heart. I founded this company sitting “elbow-to-elbow” with power traders who needed a smarter, more programmatic way to do their jobs. As the company grew, our annual Customer Summit gave us an opportunity to continue sitting elbow-to-elbow with our customers (and them with each other), learning about their challenges, and developing the solutions they need in order to keep up with this rapidly evolving industry. Each year, leading up to the event, Yes Energy has worked with a presentation coach based in the Boulder area, Dr. Andi O’Connor. Andi’s help has been immensely valuable over the years. One of Andi’s key presentation philosophies is that you go into your presentation knowing what you want your audience to think, feel, and do. Then you develop your themes, words, and graphics to accomplish each goal. At the Customer Summit this year, I decided to be a bit more direct and tell the audience what I’d like them, and all of the participants in our industry, to think, feel, and do as we move into the future, and now I’d like to share that with you in this article. Let’s start with feel.

As mentioned above, I founded this company with the desire to say ‘yes’ to nodal power market participants and add efficiencies to their trading, hedging, and/or power generation. At the time, one of our first customers was literally using a laminated map of the US power grid and a magnifying glass in his trading, and he and I both knew it was time for a better way. This evolving industry was ready for more complex, purpose-built, and efficient solutions for its unique challenges. As we delved into these challenges, we developed a symbiotic partnership with our customers - one where we were not only providing software, data, and visualizations of the market, but where we were an active part of their organization, an extension of their team.

This is still core to how Yes Energy approaches its work today. Though we serve more of the industry now, we always aim to run our business such that our customers feel that we’re their trusted partner in today’s day-to-day routines, and the new ways of working that are always required in such a rapidly changing industry.

In order to provide the most innovative, cutting-edge solutions to the industry, we also recognize that we need the best talent available. Right now you might think that talent comes from staff that knows the latest techniques for data access and analysis. You would not be wrong, but you would not be wholly correct. We know we need to keep up with (and surely ahead of) our customers’ ability to consume information. But what about expertise and experience?

I was once asked to present at the University of Colorado’s “Entrepreneurship Club”. I had bad news for them. I told them not to become entrepreneurs. I told them that it may be possible to develop something of value to a market at age 22, right out of college, but I didn’t have any advice for them on that. I told them my risk tolerance as an entrepreneur didn’t match my energy to start a business until I was 35. By then, I told them, I knew stuff about something that mattered in a market that I understood. I knew would-be customers who would want to see me succeed. And importantly, I knew people with whom I could partner, to help create the business. These people knew quite a bit about technology, but they also knew an unusually large amount about power markets, especially nodal power markets. Warren Buffet has said “risk is what happens when you don’t know what you’re doing.” We dramatically de-risked our business plan by waiting to exercise our entrepreneurship. To each his/her own, of course. For us, that approach was the right one.

Nevertheless, when we started, we got right to work replacing laminated wall maps with live views of the grid, all available in a browser. No installation. No hardware. Little to no approval from IT staff required. Log in and go. This is how everything works now, but in 2008, it was novel. We wanted to be known for our data visualization, and we were. It was fun. But it would have been impossible to show data off as we did without the experience and industry knowledge we’d acquired to that point.

And now, add 14 years to that resume. When we started we differentiated ourselves in the market as leading technologists. Now, with more vendors having entered the space, I feel compelled to highlight what makes good technology possible: talents, yes, but talent over time equals experience customers can depend upon. That was true then and it is today as well. We know our customers, longstanding or brand new, are effectively still leaning on that experience, every time they run a query, receive an alert, or trust a visual designed to tell them more of the story than they could piece together any other way.

This year, at our 13th annual Customer Summit, I felt relieved to be back elbow-to-elbow with customers in person. I felt excited to bring our event to customers remotely via “zoom” (that was overdue as well), and I felt proud to have helped so many of you over the years. But it was my experienced team that got the job done, so I mostly feel proud of them. I’ve worked with some of them for more than 20 years! At this point, we know what’s what, and we freely offer that to you.

That’s why I wanted our customers to take a moment to feel what it feels like to trust. We wake up (or stay up) every day with the goal of proving that your trust is well placed. We believe that trust must be regularly re-earned and these markets always put us in a position to reprove that you can trust us. I invite our customers to feel the trust that comes with experience. Let us continue to be your trusted partner.
Stay tuned for the next article, where I’ll review “think”, and “do”, along with how I envision the industry successfully evolving in the future.

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