Company 360:
Q&A with Sam Pardue
Indow, CEO

Sam Pardue

Chief Executive Officer, IndowSam Pardue - Indow CEO

Can you tell us a little about Indow and what you do?

Indow manufactures a window insert that provides homeowners increased energy efficiency and comfort at a lower price than replacement windows. Our window inserts easily press inside the window frame with no mounting bracket requirements. Our core product is for homeowners looking for a simple energy efficient solution, but after listening to our customers feedback we’ve also introduced other versions of the insert including an acoustic grade to cut 70% of outside noises, a shade grade tinted insert to reduce solar heat gain, sleep panels which block out 100% of light for shift workers, privacy grade for bathroom applications and other solutions for commercial applications and UV light blocking.

How did you come up with the idea for Indow?

When I first came up with the idea for Indow, I was the CEO of another company that specialized in special effects camera lenses. I was living in craftsman house from 1906 and was looking for low costs ways to improve my energy efficiency. After extensive searching, we disliked all the options that were available on the market. External storm windows would have impacted the aesthetics of our home and we hated the idea and high cost of replacing the houses original wood panel windows. When I first started experimenting, I imagined using magnets to hold the screen in place but quickly iterated to our patented compression tube to hold the window in place.

Are there any states or utilities that offer tax incentives or rebates for buying Indow inserts because of the energy efficiency gains you provide?

While some states offer incentives for the air sealing benefits of Indow inserts, we offer customers a solution that really sells itself. Because of the significantly higher price of alternatives to the Indow insert, customers see the purchase as an investment in energy efficiency with real returns. In addition, when we were starting our company we wanted to ensure that we weren’t dependent on any kind of subsidization from government or utilities. Obviously, when incentives are available t it’s a boon for the company, but we’ve been able to build a sustainable and profitable company without financial incentives for the customer.

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

At my previous company, Lensbaby, I personally focused on consumer branding and marketing which has been an incredible asset as we’ve built Indow. While the two companies don’t have much in common beyond the fact you can see through both products, there were still many experiences from Lensbaby that I still utilize at Indow. At both companies we not only launched launching a new consumer brand but we created a brand new product category.

At Lensbaby we were producing and selling a packaged consumer product, the transaction process for Indow is a little more complex. For example, part of our intellectual IP is a proprietary IT system which allows us to measure any window frame and use that information in our lean manufacturing to create a customized window pane that fits perfectly.

Element 8 members have participated in multiple rounds of funding to Indow, correct? How has that consistent support allowed you to be successful?

When new investors are exploring the possibility of investing in a company, seeing that the existing investors remain enthusiastic about the investment prospects is a very reassuring sign. With Indow, over 2/3 of our Series B money came from investors who had invested previously.

Beside the reassurances provided by follow on investments, the knowledge and experience of Element 8 members has been invaluable to us as we’ve grown. Being able to network with clean tech entrepreneurs through the Element is great and the advice we’ve received from the Element 8 members as observers to the Indow’s board has helped guide our success.

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

In the next three years we expect to increase our revenue to around 8 figures and make enough of a splash to draw the attention of potential acquirers. Around this time we will also begin seriously exploring large international expansion opportunities. We believe that there is a large market for our product at the global level and are excited about the growth prospect provided by international sales.

Where do you think the clean tech market is headed in the next 5 – 10 years?

I believe there is going to be continued furious innovation in the clean tech economy in the next 10 years. Renewable energy prices will continue to decline as technology advances, but energy efficiency will continue to be considered the bedrock of creating a more energy efficient and sustainable built environment. The political winds are likely to continue shifting in a favorable direction as more and more people come to grips with the reality that climate change is already occurring and it is an incredibly urgent problem that must be addressed.

What is the most important piece of advice you’ve ever received as an entrepreneur?

When Indow was going through the Clean Tech Open we were exposed to the concepts of the nimble startup and building a business model canvass. Essential to a company’s early success is the feedback you receive by reaching out to stakeholders with knowledge of your industry and product. Their feedback allows a growing company to correct flawed assumptions in their business model. Having the humility to continually be iterating your understanding with active thinking – conversations with investors, customers and entrepreneurs — is vital. Element 8 has served as one of those sounding boards for us and has been a helpful partner in giving feedback as our business model has evolved.

Are you reading any good books right now?

One really good book that I’m reading is called “Who: The method for hiring”. It’s a great book all about how to build a solid team for success. I’ve come to fully appreciate that building your team is essential for building a successful startup.