The Story behind Greenbug Energy Inc.
I couldn’t get the idea of environmental change and the lack of progress out of my mind. – Tony Bouk
While a member of the Board of directors of an Environmental not for profit organization Tony Bouk became increasingly frustrated with the slow progress and lack of capital needed to invest in projects.
Unable to let the issue drop he resigned from this organization and formed GreenBug Energy Inc. with Brian Weber and Mike Bouk.
A thought that wouldn’t go away…
I really wanted to do something and when the opportunity came to help with an environmental organization I jumped at the chance. I remember joining the Board thinking that as a business person I was going to be in the company of some hard core environmentalists but found myself being that person instead.
After some time it became clear to me that it was best for me to resign. While I continued to support the role played by environmental charities and foundations, I realized it just wasn’t for me and I felt I was adding little value. Unfortunately, I still couldn’t get the idea of environmental change and the lack of progress out of my mind. I was becoming convinced that to solve the capital problem you needed a “for profit” organization, and that whatever was done it had to make money or the whole thing would stop very quickly without being able to sustain investment.
At the time, I was occasionally talking to Brian (Brian Weber), my business partner, about it and global warming and the need to do something. At the same time there was a lot of activity happening in green energy around us because of the green energy act being introduced in Ontario in 2009. After a number of months we decided to look at renewable energy. We did some research and also did an assessment of our local renewable energy resources. We found that there were hundreds of small low head dams around us and almost everything we read said that if you have hydro resources available you should look at developing those first. So we decided to look into low head hydro further and spent about a year researching and developing the technology. That’s when we decided to try and bring in Mike (Mike Bouk), my father, as he had just retired as CEO of an Energy company.
With Brian and Mike on board I thought we could accomplish anything.
For profit, for sure…
During this time, I had been reading how Google had organized their charity arm as “for profit” and a lot of the business literature discusses the social role of the enterprise and I had come to believe that not only did we need the organization to be for profit instead of a charity in order to sustain investment but I also firmly believed that the goals were perfectly aligned.
Every time GreenBug installed a system and made money, there would be that much less carbon produced and fewer greenhouse gases. I also knew that it was absolutely necessary to make money for others if there were going to be any widespread adoption of new practices, and so the for profit model was a very easy and natural choice.
– Tony Bouk