COI Energy Services, Inc.

COI Energy Services, Inc. is a digital energy management platform that detects and eliminates energy waste in buildings and repurposes waste to do good.




Other Services (except Public Administration)




8614680% increase from
2017 – 2020


334% increase from
2017 – 2020

SaLisa Berrien


Was there an ah-ha moment behind starting your company?

I had an ah-ha moment when I was working at a startup before I started COI. The founder of the company was lamenting that we had to convincer customers that they were getting the value of a Lexus if they signed up with us. I raised my hand and said, “Suppose they want a Toyota?” At that moment, the looks I received were a tell-tale sign that my counter to the Lexus was not well received. The bottom line for me was that if we’re not giving customers what they’re asking for, we’ve lost right out the gate. Even if you think you have a Lexus package but they don’t want a Lexus, they will not buy it. That was my biggest ah-ha moment that actually made me say to myself, I can’t do it this way and I have to go with my conviction.

The genesis of why the mission of COI Energy is important to me is because my family didn’t always have electricity when I was growing up. My parents sometimes couldn’t pay the electric bill so there were times we were in the dark.

When I was a junior in high school, my College Algebra teacher exposed me to the world of engineering. She took 30 minutes of her time and it changed the trajectory of my life.  I started a nonprofit, shortly after I graduated from college, focused on STEM leadership development because of the mentor she was for me. I felt obligated to pay it forward. It’s the same thing with COI Energy. Starting this company was to give back to the people experiencing energy burden as my family did when I was growing up.

Did you know you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur was in my DNA. But to be honest, it wasn’t a direct goal of mine. As a kid, I watched my grandmothers and aunts be entrepreneurs. One of my aunts went to Beauty School then started her entrepreneurial journey by opening her own salon and then a chain of salons in Cleveland, Ohio. My other aunt owned a record store. I remember when I was about eight years old, the school sent me home with a slip to join Girl Scouts. My brother, who is a year younger than me, came home with one to join the Boy Scouts. I was super excited about it, but my family was only able to afford for one of us to participate. I ended up starting my own “Girl Scouts” in my backyard for the kids that didn’t get a chance to go to actual Girl Scouts. We called it, “Girls Club.” The neighborhood girls would come over and we’d sell potato chips and freeze cups for twenty-five cents. We were able to raise money to do some of the activities that the kids in Girl Scouts were doing. To stay organized, I used resources available to me. I used an egg carton as a cash register. We made pretty good money, that’s when my godmother bought me a cash register and opened a bank account for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was my first taste of being an entrepreneur and I learned from watching my aunts and grandmothers start their own businesses.

Tell me about COI and the value you bring to your customers.

We’re on a mission to eliminate energy waste in buildings and repurpose that waste for good. We call it “kW for Good.” It’s about improving energy performance in buildings, balancing the electric grid, reducing carbon emissions and ensuring electricity is reliable, low cost and safe. Straight out of college, I worked at a utility company serving large industrial and commercial customers to help them solve their energy efficiency problems.

We help our customers understand their energy data, manage and monetize it.  Today, businesses can save on their electric bill and generate revenue by adjusting their energy behaviors. We’re positioning businesses for a peer-to-peer energy marketplace that will drive efficiency throughout the ecosystem.  This is the future of energy. It’s all about creating low carbon, energy-efficient, and climate-friendly economy future for generations to come.

I’m focused on the energy waste component in buildings because that’s about $55 billion a year in the U.S. We can repurpose that to help underserved communities improve their energy security while optimizing the electric grid. It is a win-win-win for buildings, the electric grid, and the environment.

What is your competitive edge over others in your market?

Our competitive edge is our people, our technology, and our process for engaging users. We have an equity lens to everything we do. The work we do for businesses under kW for Good rounds up savings to support marginalized communities to gain equitable access to clean energy solutions.

In addition, we are helping customers in a fast, simple, and cost-effective way to improve their energy performance and monetize flexible capacity. We have a simple business model where customers are able to access savings and generate revenue from one platform, and they retain 100%. 

Users pay a monthly subscription and a one-time onboarding fee to gain access to real-time energy-saving insights and control. The prominent shared savings business model has been in place for over 20 years and energy efficiency efforts have not made much of an impact. There’s only about a 10% penetration rate of customers that are participating in these programs. If we incentivize customers to become more energy-efficient, we will get more people taking action. This could triple the penetration rate in the next few years.  I don’t think anyone chooses to be wasteful, but it happens because people don’t know the various ways to save energy.

Tell us about your company culture. What’s it like working at COI Energy?

We live by the following seven core values: Customer Focus, Employee Empowerment, Integrity, Transparency, Innovation, Philanthropy, and Excellence. They all are important to our culture.  For me, the most important is empowering my team to go out and delight our customers at every chance they get. Our focus is on serving our customers but next to that is empowering our employees. We want to make sure they have a voice and can give input on the direction of COI. It’s not about the leader, it’s about the team. That’s key.

Having a team that is built on integrity is important to us. If a customer asks for something and we can’t deliver on it, we are open and transparent about it. Those customers always stick with us because we were honest. It’s not an environment where you’re trying to get through all the hard sales to get new customers and then the customer gets on board and they’re disappointed because they were baited and switched. We have 100% customer retention because the entire team is working together to best serve our customers.

What are some challenges you’ve faced growing your business?

I would say the biggest challenge for me as a woman and minority-led startup was funding. I bootstrapped the business for the first two years.  It was even more challenging because we’re in a crowded space. What we’re doing isn’t new, but how we’re doing it is. Being in such a crowded space, you must paint a clear picture for investors to see the uniqueness of your offering.

During COVID, landlords were trying to understand why their bills were so high but occupancy was at its lowest. They didn’t have a line of sight into how they were using their energy and now suddenly, this digital world makes more sense to them. After that, we had an uptick in customers having interest and I think that’s what drove investors to look at us again. We’ve reached a turning point where investors are seeking us instead of just the other way around.  

What is your proudest moment as CEO?

My proudest moments as a CEO are when I see my team making their mark and owning their space. A lot of times as CEO, the focus is on you, but it’s the teamwork that makes the dream work. Most people don’t get to see that side of things in the early days. An example of a proud moment was when one of my team members decided to write a white paper on the Texas grid debacle. From there, he led a community of other startups that agreed to work together to help TX solve their problem. Seeing my employees getting out there and making a difference, puts a big smile on my face. They don’t feel constrained or boxed in. They know they can go outside of the box and make a difference.

What does it mean to you to be selected as a GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honoree?

Finding out that we were selected was humbling and a proud moment at the same time. Receiving this award validates that we’re doing the right things. The validation really means a lot. We are grateful to the nominating committee for selecting us.  It comes during a time when my team has achieved several milestones including an investment from Google and winning the Diversity in ClimateTech award. 


My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is…

"Believe in yourself more than ever before. You're going to have a lot of lows, and those lows can be very discouraging. If you believe in what you're doing, have a passion for it, and know in your heart it’s going to make a difference – it will keep you going. Stay focused on your mission and I guarantee you will overcome whatever barriers are in your way to success."

Celebrate with the COI Energy team!

Tickets are on sale now for the 11th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Awards Celebration! Don't wait, they will sell out!