Born and raised in Iran, Saeed Torbati moved to Canada at the age of 18 to improve his life and find a career. He enrolled at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology and Electromechanical Engineering Robotics, graduating in 2012 with honors from the program. After graduation, he began to work in the sales industry focusing on green energy and green technology where he found his passion and decided to start his own company.
Torbati completed an associate’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Studies from Harvard Business School before starting his own businesses. Currently, Saeed Torbati spends his time split between Ottawa and Toronto where he manages the company Ontario Green Savings. His company was ranked 20th in the Canadian Business Journal for the top new growth companies across the country.
In his free time, Saeed enjoys a wide array of sports with a passion for boxing – training multiple times a week.
How did you get started in this business?
After working in the sales industry after my time at Algonquin College, I realized that I not only had a passion for green energy and technology, but also that I had an idea that had not been created yet. These two points combined to help me start my own business, Ontario Green Savings.
How do you make money?
We make money by leasing our programs and products to individuals to help them lower their carbon footprint. Rather than having to pay everything up front, many people were interested in an option that involved regular payments.
How long did it take for you to become profitable? When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
We were profitable fairly quickly. It only took a few months before we started to turn a profit as the interest in leased equipment was very high. I never really doubted that the company would succeed. In the modern world, many people are looking for more affordable monthly options rather than a lump sum payment. Additionally, people are looking to go green and reduce their carbon footprint, so I believe that we entered right at the perfect time.
How did you get your first customer?
I got my first customer through word of mouth. When I was first developing the company, I brought it up to some friends and they immediately wanted to sign on for a lease. From there, their word spread and brought in more clients until we started to become a large enough company for people to have heard about.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
One marketing strategy that works really well is social media advertising. The majority of the younger generation regularly use social media and are often looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
The toughest decision I have made in the last few months is to hire new personnel for my business. While trying to find the best fit for the company, I had to pass over many extremely talented individuals that met the qualifications because I did not believe that they would fit into our company culture.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I believe that it is a combination of my dedication to work and my drive for success that have made me successful. Once I have a goal in sight, I will stop at nothing until I have achieved it. Additionally, I care about all of my employees and I work hard to ensure that they all have a good work life balance so that they are always on their A-game at work.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The most satisfying moment in business was having the company be selected as one of the fastest growing startup companies in Canada. It made all the hard work worth it.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I believe that the future of the business is very promising. With so many people that are looking to reduce their carbon footprint without breaking the bank, Ontario Green Savings has a bright future ahead of it.
What business books have inspired you?
- Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim
- Renée Mauborgne, and Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself to never give up and be willing to make mistakes. Mistakes are the best way to learn and grow and by never making mistakes, you can never find success in life.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
With my busy work schedule and the launch of my book and new business, I don’t have time to focus on mentoring just one person. I always try to mentor in some way if I see someone is interested in learning from me. I feel honored to help others grow and learn what makes their lives full so I would never say no to anyone but it would be hard to fit regularly into my schedule.