Meet the Rebels Who Bend the Rules and Play to Win

Rejection -- who cares? Naysayers -- screw 'em. Entrepreneurship isn't just about business. it's about rebellion.
Abe Issa of Global Efficient Energy has had a few doors slammed in his face. Source: Trevor Paulhus

Abe Issa trudged up the walkway to another suburban front door, sweat sliding down his back in the blast furnace of a Fort Worth, Texas, summer. He had a pretty good idea of how he’d be received on the other side of the locked screen: “Not interested.” “Don’t need it.” “Don’t waste your time.” Take your pick.

“Whenever I got rejected, it would sting,” admits Issa, whose family immigrated to the U.S. when he was 5 to escape the civil war in Lebanon.

Everyone knows that door-to-door sales went out with the Fuller Brush man. And what Issa sells is even more of a challenge to the established order: In Texas, the heart of oil and gas country, he offers non-fossil-fuel energy solutions. His company, Global Efficient Energy, provides foam insulation, HVAC, LED lighting and solar products—the last a veritable heresy in these parts. Out of every 100 sales calls, he might wrangle three or four appointments to do a free audit to show homeowners the money they could save with more effective energy management.

“I was told by friends, business associates and investors that homeowners would never buy energy-management products from someone with no track record, no references, no office and no employees, who happened to knock on their door uninvited,” recalls Issa, who launched Global Efficient Energy in 2011 out of his apartment with $1,000.

But naysayers and conventional wisdom didn’t mean much to Issa. Like all entrepreneurs, he saw things not as they were, but as they could be. Energy costs are a major expense for homeowners; cutting those bills would be a successful value proposition. And everyone wants to save money. Issa took

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