Company 360:
Q&A with Tom Matzzie
Ethical Electric, CEO

Ethical Electric Logo

Tom Matzzie

Chief Executive Officer, Ethical ElectricTom Matzzie

Can you tell us a little about Ethical Electric and what you do? 

Sure. At Ethical Electric we make buying 100% renewable energy easy, without the need for construction projects, home visits or expensive equipment. Many customers are not able to take advantage of rooftop solar because of structural constraints, roof slope, or high cost – that’s where Ethical Electric comes in. We provide customers in competitive energy markets the option to purchase their energy through Ethical Electric and we in turn purchase 100% renewable energy from energy producers.  All this is all done without changes to equipment, meters or the need for a long-term commitment.

How did you come up with the idea for Ethical Electric?

My inspiration for the company stems from my experience trying to install solar panels at my house.  It was a complex process, filled with many construction barriers and regulatory burden.  I also learned that I wasn’t alone in my frustration – generally the process of choosing to use renewable energy is not easy. I felt there must be a better way to go about buying renewable energy and help the industry scale.  We learned that there was an opportunity for us in deregulated markets, where customers had a choice of which retail energy provider they wanted to use – Ethical Electric could be one of those options and we’d offer a 100% renewable option for our customers.

How many states have deregulated markets?

Currently there are 17 states with some form of deregulated competitive energy markets. Ethical Electric’s services are currently offered in Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Illinois, New York and Ohio. We expect to offer future service to customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Texas.

How did your past experience influence the creation of the company?

In my previous life I worked on political campaigns developing new ways to target and effectively contact potential voters. At Ethical Electric, we use these data driven direct marketing to find customers and provide them a service.  The decision making and outreach tools we use were developed early on for political campaigns and while the fundamentals are the same, we’re using them for a different purpose.  The tools allow us to better target potential customers and ensure that we’re effectively using our marketing dollars and acquiring new customers for the lowest cost.

 Element 8 members have participated in multiple rounds of funding to Ethical Electric. How has that consistent support allowed you to be successful?

Element 8 has been an important supporter of ours since very early on and Element 8 members have been involved in several of our equity raises.  In particular, Brian Arbogast, an Element 8 investor and business leader has been a tremendous help and is currently serving on our board as a representative for seed stage investors.   This support has helped us grow rapidly and we currently have more than 56,000 customers across the country.

In addition, we’ve been able to open up new opportunities through developing market partnerships.

Where do you see Ethical Electric three years from today and what does your long-term vision of success look like?

Right now we are focused on finding ways to scale our customer acquisition efforts and grow our portfolio.  I would like to see Ethical Electric expand and look for new opportunities and ways to serve our customers.  In the future, I see the organization providing umbrella services for customers as a large integrated renewable energy company.  Obviously we think this is a very large opportunity and being able to work directly with customers and develop renewable energy generation facilities would be a very exciting opportunity for us.

Are you reading any good books right now?

Nothing right now. Lately, my time has been devoted to work or spending time with my kids.  So I guess you could say that I’ve been reading stimulating books like, A Birthday for Bear or Winnie the Pooh.