Women in Tech Tampa Bay: SaLisa Berrien, CEO of COI Energy
In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Embarc Collective is excited to introduce you to Women in Tech Tampa Bay — a content series profiling women who are building at Embarc Collective and how they’ve built their careers.
Meet more women tech founders and investors across the state of Florida here.
Meet SaLisa Berrien, CEO of COI Energy.
What pivotal points in your career led to your current role?
I’ve had a diverse career in the energy space; over the last 25 years, I’ve held roles at utilities, startups, and organizations that I now consider competitors. One of the most pivotal moments in my career was when I stood with the executive team of my former company as we went public on Nasdaq. I began selling demand response when there were just 40 employees and was able to experience the startup success journey firsthand. This experience taught me how to thrive at a startup and transform it into a major player.
More importantly, it inspired me to start my own company. Through this success story and the variety of roles I’ve held in energy, I’ve gained firsthand knowledge into what customers want and what they’re being offered. I felt that there was a gap to fill between what they were asking for and what utilities and typical energy management companies were providing. With COI Energy, we set out to accomplish this by ingraining transparency and a customer-first mindset in our organization. Fast forward to 2020, and I was featured on the Nasdaq billboard in Times Square as part of their Milestone Makers program.
What do you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Something I learned along the way is that it is okay to say no when something does not feel right. As an entrepreneur, it can sometimes seem as though any deal is better than no deal. While it is important to be open-minded and humble, it is equally vital to know your worth and adhere to your own set of values when considering partnerships and agreements.
What communities, networks, or resources have helped you build in your career?
We have participated in several accelerators and incubators, each of which not only armed us with tangible resources and strategic mentorship, but also provided me and my team with the opportunity to forge relationships with incredible individuals across a variety of spaces. Morgan Stanley ICIL and USF helped COI Energy get off the ground. We participated in SAP.iO and are now an endorsed solution on the SAP App Center. In 2020, we joined Embarc Collective, Greentown Labs, the Koffman Incubator, and participated in Nasdaq Milestone Makers, MassChallenge, and Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders. Each of these programs connected us with dedicated mentors, tangible resources, and fellow entrepreneurs who have not only propelled COI Energy, but also supported our team members as individuals and leaders. Most recently, we were chosen as one of SheEO’s newest venture. This is a community of radically generous women who tackle the world’s to-do list in hopes of achieving a more equitable world. The strategic and tactical support we’ve received, whether in sales and marketing, product development, or human resources, has been vital to our growth as a team.
What is one piece of tactical advice that you would give to another woman considering your career path?
Stay true to yourself, your mission, and why you believed you were the right person to solve the problem at this time because you will get a lot of naysayers. You will need something to ground you to push through the noise, so believe in yourself more than you ever did before. It will come in handy very early on during your journey.
Connect with SaLisa and follow COI Energy.
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