The Interview Series: 009 - Michael Chisholm Jr., USA

Bio

Michael Chisholm Jr. is the founder and CEO of Feros, a company developing solutions to improve the sustainability of the trucking industry. Michael has an MBA specializing in Sustainable Business and Advanced Strategy from the University of Oregon. Before earning his MBA, Michael graduated from the University of Michigan in Chemical Engineering, worked in manufacturing for six years, and added a Six Sigma Black Belt to his skill-sets. While attending school, Michael made ends meet as a truck driver, learning the industry from the inside. Michael’s background combined with an enthusiasm for improving transportation sustainability has led him to be the passionate leader of Feros.

 

Q&A

What does your Company do? 
Our company is developing a plug-in battery electric freight trailer that provides power assist to a semi-truck, reducing diesel fuel consumption.

Why are you doing this, what is driving you?
I have a passion for sustainability and a strong background in logistics.  I worked for seven years at my family’s trucking company to pay for college and it was from that experience that I developed my ideas to make transportation more sustainable and strengthened my resolve to make an impact.

What is your background? How did you end up doing this?
I am originally from Michigan and attended the University of Michigan where I graduated as a Chemical Engineer. I worked for several years in various manufacturing and supply chain roles both in the automotive and chemical industries. Working in these industries made me aware of sustainability issues and I decided to transform my career to focus on making a sustainable impact. I left my job to attend the Sustainable Business MBA at the University of Oregon where I gave shape to my project and engaged others to join me.

What does success look like?
Success will be when we can look at our work and say that it has made a real sustainability impact, making a difference in the world.

What is your biggest challenge that you have to overcome to make your company/project a success?
A real challenge for us now is raising finance to take us to the next stage.  We have a great concept and business plan, but we now need to develop a prototype and validate assumptions in field trials. This is heavy-duty engineering and in an industry that is particularly conservative with limited venture funding up for grabs.

Do you have time to do anything else? What do you do outside work to keep sane?
I am now enjoying some time with my family back in Michigan, but I enjoy getting outdoors, hiking and photography.

What would be your biggest tip to aspiring entrepreneurs
As you embark on the entrepreneurial journey you realize that the world is full of opportunities, you will be amazed by all the opportunities that you will find.  Do not be afraid to embrace them, big or small!

And finally… what keeps you awake at night?
As an entrepreneur there is always something in your mind, you are always thinking about what’s next. In an early stage business, you will always be anxious until you get to the point when things are stable and when the business can reliably support you, your family, and your employees and their families.