Janina Benz

Jennifer Indovina: “It takes more than just a strong personality to deal with the startup environment”

Jennifer Indovina is a cleantech entrepreneur, political energy advisor, and TED Fellow who is currently working to spread energy efficiency initiatives worldwide. Jennifer is the CEO and Co-Founder of Tenrehte Technologies, Inc., a cleantech company that produces wireless consumer electronics products. Tenrehte’s first product is the PICOwattTM Smart Plug, an energy-saving outlet adapter that gives you remote control over the power your devices consume. The PICOwattTM Smart Plug has received international recognition, winning the 2010 Best of CES Green Product Award, as well as being featured in the New York Times, Popular Science Magazine, Treehugger.com, and BusinessWeek. Jen’s latest TED talk, Eliminating Power Poverty, can be viewed online.

Janina Benz: Tell us about your company, Tenrehte.

Jennifer Indovina: Tenrehte is a cleantech electronics company. We make energy monitoring and control products that save buildings energy. We launched the company with our first product, the award winning PICOwatt Smart Plug, at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, and we’ve been moving full steam ahead ever since.

JB: In 2010, you were selected as a finalist in the Best Young Entrepreneur category for the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. In your opinion, what is the most important characteristic to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

JI: Self-awareness. I think the reason why it is so rare for an entrepreneur to be part of the right team, have the right product, and find the right market at the same time, is because the leader is not self-aware. It takes more than just a strong personality to deal with the startup environment: you also have to be passionate, fair, loyal, hardworking, and honest—first and foremost, with yourself.

JB: Do you think that entrepreneurs are born or made?

JI: I think it’s both. My family has the entrepreneurial spirit; my grandfather and father were both self-starters who were a part of their own startup companies. However, I also feel that I have been made into the entrepreneur I am today by my experiences. I have experienced triumph, failure, being powerless, being powerful, and feeling truly grateful for certain customers. Only because of these experiences do I feel worthy enough to call myself an entrepreneur.

JB: When working as Director of Marketing for Vivace Semiconductor, you led international teams based in the US, South Korea, and China. How did working with an international team change your process?

JI: Working with international teams at such a young age taught me how to blend into environments, to respect differences, and how to communicate effectively—the ultimate entrepreneur’s toolbox, if you ask me.

JB: What are your big expectations for CeBIT?

JI: CeBIT is the most incredible mix of international businesses; I expect this show will introduce incredible new opportunities. I am just so excited to spread the PICOwatt love all over the world.

Editor’s Note: We’ll be featuring some of our finalists on the blog in the weeks leading up to CeBIT, but their participation has no bearing on the contest results

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