Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Harit Soni (HS): Growing up in Gujarat in India, I had the privilege of experiencing the magnificence of the Great Rann of Kutch, a 7,500km salt marsh in the Thar Desert at close quarters. The expanse and beauty of such a landscape not only made me realise the importance of preserving our environment, but also made me dream about creating a lasting impact on the world. I also knew from very early on that I was an entrepreneur at heart and wanted to spend my life solving big problems in the lives of people, along with wealth creation.
I trained as a Telecommunications Engineer, worked in strategy consulting, and the technology and non-profit sectors in India with assignments across the US, Canada and Middle East, before receiving the Chevening Gurukul scholarship and completing a management degree at LSE in London. It was then that I decided to combine my passion for sustainability and technology and start a company that would be able to create impact at scale in both those sectors. That is how Ecolibirum was born.
Today, as one of the founders, I head global growth and partnerships for Ecolibrium.
MB: Please introduce your business and the problems you’re trying to solve.
(HS): According to the latest reports by the World Resources Institute, operations of manufacturing companies and commercial buildings contribute to more than 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The owners and managers of these assets are facing intense pressure to meet their sustainability targets, while balancing the need for stakeholder profits.
Our mission at Ecolibrium is to improve operational efficiency and productivity for our clients by providing energy and asset health analytics using the power of IoT, AI and machine learning.
Ecolibrium has been globally recognised for its patented solution, SmartSense®, which provides real-time data, intelligence and insights to improve operational efficiency, ultimately creating healthier buildings, connected factories and smarter cities.
- Track real time sustainability metrics across various plant and machinery, including contributions from asset classes such as chillers, motors, etc., using our cutting-edge technology platform, SmartSense
- Automate prescriptive recommendations using proven domain-rich digital twins which identify key sustainability areas such as energy efficiency, wastage reduction, etc. The SmartSense platform also provides machine learning-powered alerts for predictive maintenance and productivity improvement
- Provide end-to end consulting and programme management solutions to optimise operational costs and create net-zero carbon roadmaps.
We believe that with our data, intelligence, analytics and domain experts, we can help factories, buildings and cities achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now and what support do you need?
(HS): Despite the plethora of information and technological solutions available to companies across the world today, the desire and willingness to consciously change the way they operate, improve efficiencies and protect the environment at large, is still missing. This is largely due to the fact that many companies still believe that being sustainable means having to compromise on profits. This is where our biggest challenge lies.
For the past eight years, we have strived to be the ideal partner for companies looking to embrace Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) norms, not just for the purpose of regulations, but also to improve their own assets’ performance and life cycles, as well as build a more efficient and sustainable future for themselves.
Today, many global investors are analysing these non-financial factors to assess risk and growth opportunities for companies, and it is therefore very important for organisations to make sure their long-term commitments are energy-efficient and sustainable.
While our current clients include Fortune 500 companies and we are in a fortunate position to be growing and expanding, Ecolibrium still has a long way to go. Our biggest challenge right now is finding large-scale global partnerships with players who believe in our mission and can help us in our expansion to create a better ecosystem for the future. We need to harness the power of networks to build traction and scale our business internationally.
We are also looking for passionate tech and sustainability professionals who believe in our mission to join our fast-growing team in Europe and India.
MB: What is your ambition for the future of your business?
(HS): My vision for Ecolibrium is to create a billion dollars in impact through a combination of CO2 reduction, fuel usage optimisation, man-hour optimisation, and manufacturing productivity improvement within the next 3-5 years.
I believe we can play a leading role in achieving global ‘Ecolibrium’ — where we see both economic and ecological harmony for factories, buildings and cities — all achieved through the power of deep technology and domain-rich analytics.
We are currently working with 50+ large global enterprises across three continents towards their ‘sustainable prosperity’ vision. These include global auto component majors, steel manufacturing giants, real estate facility management companies, and city councils. Our vision is to see sustainable companies with fully optimised asset health and technology driven by Ecolibrium.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
(HS): I feel the first path to achieving change is a very strong belief that it is possible.
I have seen our belief at Ecolibrium turn into reality in multiple locations, with multiple clients, and I urge all potential leaders who are working for purpose-driven or impact-driven business to believe in the power of their vision.
MB – Tell us a mistake you’ve learned from:
(HS): I believed running a business was about profits. Over the years, I have understood that all businesses are run by and for people. And any business that focuses on adding value to people — employees, clients and the community — will always prosper in the long run.
MB – How do you spend your time away from work?
(HS): I travel, I’m an avid yoga practitioner and I love exploring things at the intersection of spirituality and psychology.
My childhood passion for flying leads me to spend weekends training for my micro light plane pilot license.
Closer to home, I enjoy experimenting with food and creating new dishes for my friends and family.
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
(HS): “Top line is vanity, bottom line is sanity, cash in the bank is reality.” – A piece of business advice from my mentor, which remains etched in my mind.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
(HR): ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari. Harari brings a perspective of events — both good and bad — that have brought humans to this point in history. That perspective is essential in designing our future.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
(HR): Speaking Spanish and playing my guitar. I am always happy to swap sustainability advice for lessons with tutors who can help me with either of these!
MB – What’s one thing you want to achieve in 2022?
(HR): 2022 is the year when we aim to lead Ecolibrium as a globally recognised partner of choice in the space of tech-enabled sustainable prosperity solutions. On the personal front, I look forward to getting my pilot license and getting to fly an electric plane soon!
Discover the other leaders recognised on the 2021 MB100, for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Global Goals, here.