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Responding to COVID-19, EMPEQ Expands Financing for Essential Organizations

Close up of laptops and two sets of hands going over paperwork on a desk.

Responding to COVID-19, EMPEQ Expands Financing for Essential Organizations

Launched in 2016 and based in Ithaca, New York, Empower Equity (EMPEQ) is changing the way commercial and industrial building proprietors finance upgrades and replacements for essential building equipment, such as HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration) systems. Utilizing Rapid Placement traditional financing, as well as its own unique subscription model, the fintech startup provides small- to mid-size organizations with simple to understand finance options and easy to use tools to keep their buildings and equipment operational.

In response to the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, EMPEQ recently broadened its portfolio offerings with a few key strategic partnerships to enable deployment of over $2 billion in funding and the ability to provide immediate debt and equity financing, ranging from $10,000 to $10+ million. This funding is designed to help organizations critical to the fight against the coronavirus keep their buildings and equipment operational, preserve capital during the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19, and to cover the gap between the true need of organizations and the government stimulus they will receive.

“We deeply understand and share in the concerns that business owners and building managers are facing in these unprecedented times and are eager to help ease that burden in as many cases as we can,” said Herbert Dwyer, CEO and co-founder of EMPEQ. “This funding is our way of helping companies and building owners optimize cashflow and ensure business continuity. It will also provide much needed work for professionals installing HVACR, lighting, and other equipment.”

With the developing situation in mind, the funding will prioritize businesses classified as essential in the fight against the pandemic, including hospitals, medical facilities, pharmacies, telecommunication providers, long-term care, and banks. EMPEQ will also accept applications from nonessential business owners looking for help to ease financial challenges stemming from COVID-19. While the CARES ACT is focused on providing essential working capital, and is flooded with requests, already exceeding initial expectations, EMPEQ has alternative private sources.

EMPEQ aims to serve as a one-stop shop for HVACR contractors who are pitching new or replacement projects and their customers who want to keep their buildings and equipment functioning.

“We decided to go back to the market last year with an open mind and asked contractors ‘What are your pain points? What problems can we help you solve?’ and they gave us a lot of great information. We chose to focus on the sales process, which across the board, is not very efficient,” said Dwyer.

Traditionally, the sales process can be time consuming and result in multiple dead ends for HVACR contractors and their customers. The sales process often begins with a contractor setting up an appointment with a potential customer to visit a site and examine a piece of machinery that needs to be repaired or replaced to obtain information for an estimate.

“They’re literally taking pictures with their smartphone or a digital camera and writing notes in a yellow pad of paper, or an iPad or laptop, and then they have to go back to the office and figure out which machine goes with which photos and notes,” explained Dwyer, “Sometimes they have to return to the site, before they have enough information to send over to an estimator.”

Once an estimate exists, that information is passed on to a salesperson, who is tasked with putting together a polished looking proposal with pricing for the customer to review. This takes even more time. When the proposal ends up in the hands of the customer, it’s on them to explore their financing options and alternatives. Meanwhile, the contractor waits to see if the time and hard work they put into the sales process ends up in a sale. Recognizing an opportunity to make the sales process more efficient for all involved, Dwyer and his team set out to develop the necessary technology and tools to help contractors close sales, faster.

EMPEQ offers a wide range of fintech products including equipment loans, capital leases, municipal leasing, PACE funding, Energy Service Agreements, off balance sheet leasing and structured finance as well as its unique off–balance sheet subscription model to manage business transaction flow and customer satisfaction.

Additionally, EMPEQ, a service-disabled veteran-owned company due to Dwyer’s status as a former U.S. Marine, recently received a $50,000 Air Force SBIR AFWERX Phase I award.

“With this funding, we were able to build an optical character recognition (OCR) and machine learning (ML) technology that an Airman uses on their smartphone to quickly build a complex, cloud-based, equipment inventory of mission critical equipment. This enables much greater force readiness for our military members; saving time, money, and especially lives. Also, this means that HVCAR contractors have direct access to Department of Defense, mil-spec, technology.” said Dwyer.

Dwyer credits EMPEQ’s connections to Cornell—both he and co-founder Derek LaClair are alumni—and the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem for setting the company up for success. EMPEQ participated in Cornell’s Life Changing Labs startup incubator and joined Rev: Ithaca Startup Works shortly after its founding.

“I can’t say enough great things about the Entrepreneurs in Residence at Rev, such as Brandon Wright, Brian Bauer, and Nate Cook. They have been super helpful to us and opened doors to so many other people and programs, such as the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator. Rev has been very supportive,” said Dwyer.

To learn more about EMPEQ’s subscription-based financing, become a vendor partner, or apply for funding, visit