Here’s another from The Startup Magazine Founder Series. We interviewed entrepreneur Mr. Peter Agarwal, President/Owner of LED Phantom Distribution, a distributor of high quality LEDs, lighting, and lighting control products.
Peter followed a similar path as many successful entrepreneurs, first with early corporate career positions, then getting the itch to build something of his own. Peter leveraged his passion for quality and energy conservation into a growing green energy lighting company. LED Phantom has become a leader in customer service and product distribution of highly efficient green energy lighting products. Peter’s journey offers some lessons all startups can learn from.
Here Peter tells us more about his entrepreneurship journey and success story:
TSM: Describe your product/service in 10 words or less:
Peter: LED Phantom offers the largest energy efficient product selection available for service providers.
TSM: With a bit more detail, what does your company do?
Peter: We distribute commercial LED lighting for indoor and outdoor applications. LED Phantom is committed to distribute high quality, affordable, well-designed and energy efficient LED lighting, controls, and refrigeration products. We understand utility rebate programs very well and that helps us guide the customers to maximize their savings and make the overall payback lower.
TSM: What inspired you to start LED Phantom? (Share with us what problem you’re solving)
Peter: LED being a green product and it’s the third biggest need behind food and shelter.
TSM: How is your company impacting the world/your clients?
Peter: We are providing them highly efficient LED lighting which saves tons of energy, maintenance-free and environmentally friendly. It’s the efficiency and look of LED lighting, which can transform any space. As a company, we have supplied energy efficient lighting to more than 8,000 facilities around Chicagoland. New LED lights provide 70-80% energy savings and a 5-year product warranty. These benefits make the lights maintenance-free and mercury-free, which makes them environmentally friendly.
TSM: That’s extremely valuable. So,what are the disruptive factors in your industry that make it so promising?
Peter: It’s the efficiency and look of LED lighting, which can transform any space.
TSM: You made a change in direction at one point, describe the LED Phantom pivot point, and its impact on the company?
Peter: I moved from contracting work to distribution, as I hit the ceiling. I maximized on the potential of the opportunity. I could not see a way for a doubling or tripling my revenue unless I changed my business model. Additionally, I created one stop shop of products for energy efficient programs and brought in experienced leaders to streamline overall operations and finance.
TSM: As your company grew, what other issues were the primary challenges?
Peter: Hiring has been the biggest challenge as I started with limited capital and no experience in recruitment and training. Due to limited capital, I have to create efficient manual processes, inventory turnover, and deal with tighter payment terms.
TSM: Going back to your early career decisions, tell us what factors influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur?
Peter: Every summer while growing up, I worked in my Dad’s business in various capacities. I saw his success; I always wanted to build mine from the ground up. While working in jobs related to my career, they never satisfied me as I quickly hit the ceiling. What I mean here refers to limited growth or promotion opportunities. Only time and corporate grind will lead to promotion, not skill set. Opportunities were limited. It was about skill and talent versus experience. I started my entrepreneurial journey by opening retail stores for cell phones. I quickly grew to four stores within a year.
TSM: And what characteristics do you have that particularly contributed to your ability to jump from a startup success to a scale up success?
Peter: I look at the ability to read future trends and bring innovation to them. LED lighting is a big example of that. When I started the business in 2013, a lot of contractors were installing fluorescent lights, but we were a big pusher of LED lighting as we predicted market conversion to LED lighting early. Another example of a trend would be refrigeration products related to walk-in and reach-in coolers. We have had a full line of products since 2015. Some of those products are ECM (electronic communicated motors), controls, anti-sweat controls and many other products. They provide 90% savings to an existing system. It a game changer as businesses can save up to 80-90% in energy savings, which can boost up their bottom line.
TSM: What is one interesting fact about you that people may not know?
Peter: I don’t believe in the word no. There is an answer for every question; you just have to find it.
TSM: Congratulations on your phenomenal journey. Best of luck for more future successes.