While there has been a lot of focus on harnessing wind and solar energy in recent years, there is also enormous potential for the capturing and storing of the sun’s heat for sustainable use. Robert Barmore recognized the great potential underground energy storage could have and set to work setting up his company, Therma-HEXX.
Therma-HEXX make thermo hydronic panels which can be fitted under normal paving stones. These panels capture the sun’s rays, store the energy, and convert it into water which can either be used to heat pools or domestic water, or cool down patios during hot weather. Prior to founding Therma-HEXX Robert’s background was in mortgages. He took his financial know-how and founded Barmore Associates, a building design and construction business. The idea for ThermaHexx came to Robert after noting one major frustration with construction work – the delay the weather could have on his ability to complete work, with extreme cold frosting over patios or the sun overheating the surface. Not one to be dissuaded by a setback, Robert set to work designing the Therma-PAVER panels. We asked Robert to give us some insight into the early stages of the company’s growth.
1. Where did the idea for Therma-Hexx come from?
When I was designing and building high end homes in Aspen, Colorado, I found a need to be able to efficiently snow melt rooftop pedestal mounted paver patios and to cool them in the summer. I spent six years developing our first product, ThermaPAVER and that has led us to ThermaCEILING and a system for heating and cooling PV solar collectors.
2. Can you describe a typical working day?
Prioritize the most critical items that will lead to sales and revenue, primarily, getting the word out so we get the orders in. You must work to re-focus as you get distracted by a million other things during the day.
3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on Therma-HEXX?
A brisk walk on the beach or hike in the woods of New Hampshire with my wife Susan.
4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
Creativity, innovation and a willingness to work without a net. A great family support system.
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
Getting foreign suppliers to deliver on time and to do what they say they would do. Express shipping companies.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
A desire to succeed at all costs because I believe in our products.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would know what I know now. Think, re-think and re-think again your product design before investing in tooling, or patenting. I did this numerous times and I still spent precious resources on early designs. A lack of resources will force your innovation process to a simpler, tighter design and business model.
8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?
Broad market acceptance, methodical growth.
9. If you weren’t working on Therma-HEXX, what would you be doing?
Selling boat drinks in the Caribbean.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
ThermaCEILING will change the way buildings are heated and cooled and because of that, they will be built providing 25 percent more usable space that was previously used by the HVAC system.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Protect your cash at all costs. Learn about gorilla marketing and disruptive innovation and how it really works (MIT World on iTunes U). Utilize local funding and mentoring resources in universities, incubator groups, the Small Business Development Center (USA), local business mentor groups, and smart family members!