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One Client's Story: Pulse Energy

When David Helliwell started Pulse Energy, it wasn’t to build a company in order to sell it. In fact, he didn’t think even about selling until he realized that he could make an even greater impact with the right partner.

David helped set up the Canada Green Building Council and was instrumental in bringing in LEED certification. At the time, there were lots of companies focused on new buildings and the latest green technology, such as renewables and solar panels. Yet, no one was focusing on how existing buildings were running.

“Right from the beginning, our goal was to make the world’s businesses more energy efficient. We realized that the greatest impact in the shortest time could come from changing the way you operate existing buildings,” states David. “We wanted to help companies run their systems more efficiently.”

Creating a Foundation of Trust

David was introduced to former Miller Titerle + Co. lawyer, Chris Gora, through a mutual friend. “We met at a charity lunch and got to talking about energy efficiencies. My area of interest was clean technology and renewable energy, so it was a great conversation,” reflects Chris.

Chris started out as an advisor, helping David identify business opportunities and develop Pulse’s strategy. As Pulse grew, so did their legal needs. Chris started helping Pulse with service agreements, confidentiality and privacy policies, stock option plans – anything they needed.

“Chris was in it right from the very beginning, and whenever we needed any legal work, I looked to him,” says David. “Our relationship with Chris was integral to the growth of our business, and the fact that Chris placed his trust in MT+Co. when he moved there in 2011 gave us the confidence we needed to work with them. They not only had less overhead in terms of cost, but we now had a foundation of trust. That’s not something you can create over night.”

In 2011, Pulse Energy pivoted from working with universities, hospitals and schools to selling directly to utility companies. This allowed them to grow much faster and to become leaders in the industry. That’s when the phones started ringing.

“People were coming after us – and we weren’t for even for sale! We didn’t build this with the intent to flip it – we wanted to make a difference in the world and to continue to have a big presence in Vancouver,” says David.

Working Together to Make a Deal

As the negotiations began, one company rose above the rest. EnerNOC, a leader in the renewable energy field, wanted to diversify their offering by acquiring Pulse Energy’s demand-response technology. David looked to Chris and the rest of the MT+Co. team to get things rolling. Chris knew that every deal has its surprises and challenges, and in order to land on an acceptable agreement, everyone needed to work together.

“Chris and his team helped us get everything together quickly. We went through the typical bobs and weaves of a very tough negotiation. MT+Co. helped us realize that we were in a strong position. They counselled us and showed us what other deals of a similar nature looked like, and what the industry norms were,” remarks David.

Chris and his MT+Co. colleague, Brian Vick, worked with David and the Pulse team to understand where the industry was headed so Pulse could maximize their price.

The deal structure was complex, with EnerNOC being a publicly traded company. Any deal worth making, especially where one company is looking to maximize returns and the other is looking to minimize liability, is dynamic, intense and stressful.

However, with this deal, the hard work continued after the deal closed – integrating teams, landing on a strategic plan, bringing everyone together – this is where everything needs to come together. “You need to be careful not to poison the relationship between the two parties, and we worked hard to ensure that everyone had what they needed to move forward once the deal was done,” says Chris. “They are all happy with the way things are going, and that was our goal.”

When Values Align

For Chris, this deal highlighted the value of really getting to know a client ahead of time. “I went on Pulse’s company retreats, I sat in on their strategy sessions – I got to know them and what they wanted, and that helped immensely. The hallmark of our relationship was that I got to spend time with them off the clock. They are great people guided by a mission to revolutionize the way buildings use energy. As a values and mission-based lawyer, that spoke to me. I believe in what they are doing, and they know that,” reflects Chris.

“We weren’t planning on being for sale, but luckily Chris helped us get clear on what really mattered. We built this company from the ground up, and now that we have been acquired by EnerNOC we can do more than we could have on our own. Now, we get to make an even bigger impact, and that’s really what it’s all about,” states David.

To discuss what we can help your business achieve, please contact David Allardice for mergers and acquisitions inquiries or Peter Eirikson for financing.