BizTech BizTech Podcasts

60. IoT- Grab huge profits from building EV Charging Stations. With Stephanie Turzanski

March 15, 2023

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Did you know you can help your customers purchase, install, and monetize EV Charging stations on their property? You can do that and a whole lot more! Don’t miss this episode where Stephanie Turzanski of Vinvu talks about how to unlock the sales process, and approach a technology segment that’s projected to massively grow over the next 5-10 years.

Transcript of episode can be found below.

Josh Lupresto (00:01):
Welcome to the podcast that is designed to fuel your success in selling technology solutions. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales Engineering at Telarus. And this is Next Level BizTech, everybody. Welcome back. We are wrapping up our track on how to make huge profits from building ev charging stations. And I know if you’ve listened to other tracks, this is dramatically different than how we talk about cloud and containers and security. But it’s new and exciting and, and there’s a lot of stuff coming with this. So excited today to have on Stephanie Turzanski of VinVu. Stephanie, welcome on.

Stephanie Turzanski (00:39):
Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Josh Lupresto (00:43):
So Steph, we always like to kick these off with your background. You know, it seems like in this industry, in our world, some people were set out to do this. Some people got sucked into this world, and I always just love hearing everybody’s kind of windy story. How did you get in? How did you get to where you’re at and, and who was VinVu?

Stephanie Turzanski (01:00):
So it was, it’s a very interesting story. I actually owned a marketing firm for 12 years, and I met my business partner who owned a telecom firm. And through him I got to know the ins and outs of telecom and how it went, how it worked but there are a few things about it that I didn’t really like. So we decided to create a model that was going to be way more transparent, letting our clients know who our master agent was, how to interact with them, and, you know, just kind of go through that process. During Covid, you know, we, we originally were just selling phones, internet, some cloud covid hits, and we wound up selling thermal scanners, and that led us into the whole IOT world. At the same time, the building in Miami collapsed. So it really made us look more into, okay, so what caused the building to collapse?

Stephanie Turzanski (02:01):
What kind of technologies could have been put into place? And through the help with Telarus, we were able to see this whole other world that wasn’t just a phone system or internet or cloud. We were able to look into a world that had so many other facets that we were able to put into a building. So from there, we created this model that now does internet wi manage wifi throughout the entire building, having ubiquitous wifi security cameras and access control smart censoring through the IoT sensors through the different partners of Telarus, where we actually will go back to property and casualty insurance and see if we can either get discounts or rebates or lowering of the PNC because of mitigative risk. And then EV charging stations. So from that standpoint, we’ve created this model where we now can go to a developer, whether it’s ground up or already existing and say, here’s what we can do for your building.

Stephanie Turzanski (03:01):
Here’s the money you can save, here’s the money you can make from it. We’re all leveraging technology. So I never knew anything about technology. I wasn’t a a tech person, I was a marketing person. My job was to find out, well, how can I make this work and make it appealing? So I think that served me when we started our company and just creating this whole real estate model with the EV charging and the smart censoring and, and all those components have really been great for us. It’s actually really exciting because, you know, we’re not having to deal with the IT guy for anything, and it’s a little outside of their scope of what happens. And we get to really educate, especially in the northeast, all of these developers who have no idea what technology is. And it’s been really, really fun.

Josh Lupresto (03:53):
I love it. It’s such a different approach, right? And it’s gotta be so just eyes wide open that there’s so much possibility out there, right? So, so you went from looking at some of the traditional tech stack that a lot of people focus on, and then you, you, you tackling this kind of EV and everything else model. How do you, how do you look at kind of the land grab on that, right? Because there’s not a lot of people doing what you’re doing, and I don’t think a lot of people fully understand it. So what’s the, what do you feel the potential is there? Right.

Stephanie Turzanski (04:20):
So we have over 25 active projects right now across the country. It’s myself and my business partner, and again, this is where Telarus is so vital to us because we will leverage their project managers and the engineering staff that’s there, and then just through the suppliers of, of TA’s portfolio to help manage all of these things. But what’s really been interesting is that we keep coming up with other components, . So we actually now are talking about appliances. We’re talking about solar. We’re talking about everything that can go into a building that you can plug in and make that building work. And I think what really kind of gets us going is that it’s just so unique and new that that’s what kind of gives us our energy. And again, in the northeast, this isn’t known. So the playing field is really open for us to go out there and maybe start with a small ask, which could be, Hey, I need to track my pallets to another location. We can then morph it into, so what are you doing from an EV standpoint? Are you doing anything from you know, a smart censoring standpoint? Like, what else are you doing? And it’s just through the partners of Tolas that we’re able to sit there and say, okay, we can cobble together everything, but we do it in a way that makes it a unified system. So wouldn’t be that one throat to choke when it comes to all the technologies built into one building.

Josh Lupresto (05:50):
Yeah, I think it’s, I mean, it’s, it’s just nice. I think we’ve always sat back and we’ve waited for, oh, one day we’ll get all these cool technologies that we’ll finally be able to sell, right? We’ve, we’ve all had success selling certain things, but we’ve seen these other things in the market and just haven’t been able to monetize ’em. So we’re, we’re super excited to finally have the right provider portfolio set that that gives you the block of Legos that you need. And so how do you you know, that, that thought in mind, right? With the pace of innovation in this and, and you, you’re finding all these new things. Is it through customer need? Are you guys kind of just designing what you think would be adjacent? Because it seems to me like you’re grabbing things that are make perfectly logical sense that just nobody’s thought of.

Stephanie Turzanski (06:30):
Yeah, we we actually don’t always ask, so what do you want? We will say, so have you thought about this instead? It’s a different approach in that it gets the customer thinking, it gets them going, I don’t know what the hell that is, but sure, I’m open to it. What, what is it? And you know, in the world that we work in, we really have to find ways to leverage the technology. Not every builder and developer are going to wanna cash out money. They’re, they’re not gonna wanna put that money out. They don’t want to spend anything, but they need the solutions. So how do we offset that? So that’s why we’ve tried to pair it with either insurance or do you have the managed wifi solutions that give you money, the EV stations that give you money, you know, something to help offset the cost that allows them to have this technology into place.

Stephanie Turzanski (07:22):
So we’re trying to create a need for each of our customers versus just saying, being an order taker. Yeah. And saying, all right, so what do you want? What do you need? And, and kind of move forward. So we’re trying to be very innovative. We’re trying to make customers think and then make them also realize there’s a ton of stuff out there. You don’t have to be that subject matter expert. You don’t have to be the one in the know that’s our job, but let me be that person and let us come in and help you find what’s going to make your building attractive, especially if you’re trying to gain tenants. But 80% of our portfolio is multi-family. So, you know, that’s a, that’s a big draw that you have to make, to have tenants come in and see what amenities they want. And so if you have the things like the EV and other components, it does make it better selling for that particular building owner. And that’s what we try to position, try to position how can we make this sellable and sexier versus what you had before.

Josh Lupresto (08:26):
That’s good, good stuff. All right. So, so the topic for this is getting back to the core of e the EV side, right? I, i, I remember the first time that Jason Kaufman brought us to us and said, Hey just so you guys know, we can sell ev charging systems. We went, what is it? You know, you’re kidding, right? So, so you, you’ve tackled this, right? You’re, you’re down the road with this. I would love for you to kind of walk us through, you know, this is a new space, it’s greenfield. What are the deals like, what are the gotchas? What have, have you seen, what’s your experience been with with going after helping people build out ev charging systems?

Stephanie Turzanski (09:01):
So Jason also came to us and said, Hey, we’ve got a partner that does ev I know that you’re dealing a lot with buildings. Would you be interested? And we said, yes, absolutely. We know that EV is a new thing coming out. We know that buildings have to be future-proofed. So when we looked into it I mean, every project that we have has EV attached to it. And again, that’s us saying, do you want this? What we have seen is that the minimum purchasing of EV stations are two stations because you get the tax credits from it. So when you get the tax credits, when you get the rebates, it helps offset the cost. Again, leveraging other ways to pay for a technology. But we’re seeing a lot of developers wanting to go towards the owner operator model. So they don’t wanna have to pay for the infrastructure.

Stephanie Turzanski (09:57):
They rather just get mailbox money. But because they have this amenity in there we have a few that may want to do financing, but we’re finding majority of them wanting to, if if it’s one or two, they’ll pay for it up front. You’re maybe looking at 30 grand all in, and they’ll just keep that money. For the most part, we’re getting orders of 35, 10, 15, you know, some bulk deals that a lot of these developers say, I don’t wanna pay for it, but I need it. So what do you have to offer? And that’s actually another thing that led us into saying, well, I think we wanna also be owner operators. So we’re now actually funding our own deals and pulling all that together. So when we do have a developer that says, I need 15 charging stations, but I don’t wanna pay for it, we can say, no problem.

Stephanie Turzanski (10:47):
We have investors, they’ll take it. Here’s, you know, 10% of your net that you’re gonna be getting. And you know, qualifying them too. I think that’s the other thing that if you’re going to be an owner operator, and what we’re finding, especially working through it with Modas, is that you have to qualify a lot of these deals because you have to look at the return on investment on it. So when you have an investor involved is a whole other ballgame versus just selling selling that. So I think being open about the different payment methods, whether you’re upfronting it, you’re financing it, or you’re doing owner operator is always good to position in front of the customer because it gives them some options versus I’m pigeonholed into, I need to buy all this equipment and I really don’t wanna have to manage it. Yeah.

Josh Lupresto (11:34):
Interesting. Fun stuff. All right. Let’s talk about, I think you let out in the beginning, you’ve done a great job of positioning adjacent technology solutions. So as you’re going in now to EVs or, you know, whether we’re talking about digital signage or we’re talking about just a, a adjacent things, I would love to hear, maybe walk us through just an overall example, ev digital signage, any of that where you know, a a customer that you worked on who, you know, who’s the point of contact, what’s that process like? What kind of thing did they end up picking and then, you know, any hurdles that you had to overcome there?

Stephanie Turzanski (12:10):
Yeah, the, you know, when we work on our projects, there are a few people that are involved. It’s always we’re talking to a gc. So, you know, getting in on the scheduling of the project, finding out, cause remember we we’re working a lot with ground up construction, so I’ll use that as the example working with the GC to find any of the project managers to find out, okay, when is the garage going up? When can we schedule this in? And then also working with our electrical contractors to do the site surveys to get the final pricing. Because the, the process that happens is we get an address, we get an idea of how many units are going to be needed, what type of unit is it gonna be level two, is it gonna be flex, is it going to be rapid charger? And then from there we get preliminary pricing.

Stephanie Turzanski (12:56):
The developer usually signs off on it to say, yeah, I like the cash flow from this, from the 10 year projection that you have. And then we do a site survey. And from that site survey, sometimes the GC already has the electrical done which then will help alleviate some of the cause on Aaron from our electrical contractor going out, taking a look at the site. So from there we’ll get the final pricing sign off on it, and then they decide, do we wanna own or operate? Do we wanna own it? Do we wanna finance it? What do we wanna do? Some of the obstacles I think we initially had was actually finding the electrical contractor at first. I recommend kind of finding somebody that you trust, making sure you know that they’re gonna do the work because you have to stay on a schedule.

Stephanie Turzanski (13:46):
And the other obstacle we always run into on any construction project is, does the project manager kind of get it? And they’re inundated with a whole bunch of things. We need to get answers done, we need to get on the install list. You know, how how do you manage that and what’s the relationship you have with the developer to kind of help leverage them to get the project done? So a lot of the, I would say troubleshooting has been more of just coordination and scheduling to make sure everything’s on track. The product itself, we haven’t had issues with. It’s, it’s been great. Loop’s been really good. They answer the questions that we need. So, you know, they’re, they’re kind of set apart from the other ev charging companies out there. I think the only other issue is there’s so many EV charging companies out there. Yeah. It’s like when solar first came out, everybody was a solar salesperson. Now everybody’s an EV charging salesperson. Yeah. So how do you differentiate yourself from everybody out there? And I think having those payment options, having an easy process, knowing that, you know, you’re the person to go to really helps sell the deal and kind of gets it moving faster. And that, that’s been our success with all of this.

Josh Lupresto (14:59):
Love it. All right. Let’s, let’s talk about, maybe I’m a, I’m a partner listening to this. I’m excited cuz I had no idea that I could do this and now this is a, you know, obviously I’ve know I’ve got relationships, I’ve got customers, I’ve got prospects and I wanna go tackle this. Maybe I’ve sold CX before, maybe I’ve sold security before, whatever, something, something different. Mm-Hmm. what’s your advice to a partner that wants to go tackle this? Do they go talk to the developers, the business owners, and what’s that talk track in your mind?

Stephanie Turzanski (15:31):
So we’re of the philosophy you have to A.S.K. to G.E.T. So you have to ask that whomever your contact is, you know, it’s always having that conversation. So if it is the head of it, of a building and you know that the building is leased from, you know, that, that the client is leasing that space, you’re probably gonna have to talk off, find out who the property manager is of that building in order to get that done. Because the, the client itself, the tenant itself won’t really have much say in what goes on to the property unless they kind of get involved of some sort. So it’s always dealing with whoever owns that building is who you’re gonna want to talk to. And then just providing, I believe numbers, math is the thing that sells it. The stuff doesn’t sell it.

Stephanie Turzanski (16:23):
So in every proposal we do, we put math up front first. The stuff is the stuff because the sensors are gonna change. The EV station’s going to change. All the technology is going to change at some point, but the math is what sells it. Everybody wants to know what’s my cost, how does it work, how long is it gonna last me? And what’s the money I’m gonna make off of it? So if you can answer those questions and you have that up there, I think just selling a level two charger isn’t going to do it. I think you really have to pitch the math to say, this is how this works. Here’s the money you’re potentially going to make, and I think that it’s worth it and here are the rebates, here’s, here’s everything. So having that math down pat is really what’s gonna help sell that deal and that, and the, again, that’s what’s worked for us.

Josh Lupresto (17:06):
Love it. Good stuff. All right. Final question here. Let’s look into your crystal ball in, I mean we’re, this is about the most maybe about the fastest evolving technology space that we’ve got in the portfolio. So it’s hard to say, let’s look out too far. But if we look out 12 months, maybe, let’s just say do we, do we still take all the advice in the talk track so far as that’s what it’s gonna look like in 12 months? Do you see other things evolving coming into this? Whether that be tech changing, economic changing, just in your humble opinion what do you think the future looks like for the first little while?

Stephanie Turzanski (17:44):
Well, you don’t know what the government’s going to do. They’re gonna be the first one I believe that dictates everything between the rebates, the tax credits, and then how you actually can charge the user. And by that, you know, there’s an at cost for, if you’re the one owning the equipment, you have your electrical cost that you then pass on to the user and you’re inflating it so you’re making a profit off of it. I can’t see the government not wanting to regulate that at some point because of just the way that everything is. And I can’t see the tax credits lasting as long as they are. So with that, the government’s throwing a lot of money out on this. So I think the one concern I have is not that the technology’s going to change and you know, is this gonna be a success?

Stephanie Turzanski (18:37):
It is. Technology will change, it’s gonna be, well, how are you gonna pay for it and how are you’re gonna take that on? And I think knowing where the tax credits are and those rebates are gonna make a difference not only for the building owner itself, if, if they decide to take that on and take the pricing on themselves and pay for everything, but also the owner operators, you know, we want those tax credits. We wanna make sure that we’re getting that to help offset the cost. So as soon as that starts to disappear I, my hope is that the government comes up with other programs to keep this going because we’re hearing come 2035, majority of the manufacturer car manufacturers are gonna start going electric. So they do that. We still need the infrastructure set up. And I do think, and I hope that how figuring out how to recycle these batteries is going to be the next thing and the next wave of what we can do on the agent side to kind of help our customers as well.

Stephanie Turzanski (19:44):
I would love to find out a way to set up a, you know, a place in every state that goes and finds a way to recycle these batteries because I don’t know what’s gonna happen. It’s, it’s, it’s kind of interesting how these batteries last and I know there are a 15 to 20 year lifespan, but something goes wrong with ’em. You can’t put them out with just water . You have to, you, you have to let them burn. So what are the risk mitigations again, what goes along with that to kind of help make sure that all of that’s good, but I can’t see this going away. This is, this is something that’s gonna be around definitely for the next 10 years. I think these chargers are going to evolve. I think they’re gonna be faster pace in how they’re going to be charging and I think they’re just gonna be all over the place in residential homes and commercial buildings.

Josh Lupresto (20:36):
Yeah. Good stuff. You bring up a lot of great points. I mean, I’ve, I’ve seen a lot too. I’m big car guy, right? So y you know, I’ve seen a lot of that 2035 kind of deadline it seems like everybody’s moving to. And so whether it’s, it’s pushed as aggressively as we’d like it to be or not from from a government side, it’s, they’re the ones pushing and asking for a lot of that 2035. So I have to imagine to your point, yeah, let’s maximize while the tax credits are there. But I would love to see that they continue pushing and enabling that cuz we can’t make ’em all, all electric if the infrastructure’s not there. So grab on and let’s ride the wave.

Stephanie Turzanski (21:12):
Yep, absolutely. Absolutely.

Josh Lupresto (21:14):
Cool. Good stuff. Well, Stephanie, that wraps us up. I appreciate you coming on, dropping some, some gold nuggets for us here today. It’s been a blast.

Stephanie Turzanski (21:21):
Sure, no, thank you very much for having me. I hope it I hope it helps everybody. I hope it lets agents know that this is a really cool way to go. Honest, quite honestly, if you’re getting tired of the telecom side nothing against that world, but you know, we’ve found that this is a lot more exhilarating. There’s a lot to do with it. There’s a lot that you can be creative with and it’s not so transactional. I think the more creative you can be leveraging technology, the more you’re gonna love what you do. And we, we really love what we do. So we’re really happy that we’ve ventured into this area of telecom.

Josh Lupresto (21:59):
Cool. Love it. Good stuff. Okay. Stephanie Turzanski of VinVu. We’ve talked about getting huge profits when EV charging. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of sales engineering at Telarus. This is Next Level BizTech. Till next time.