Jordana Viuker Brennan of Confident Buildings
“The impact my choices have on the world has always mattered to me,” explained Jordana Viuker Brennan. This interest led her to study biological anthropology in college, and an early job working in the solar industry. Soon it became clear to Viuker Brennan that while this work had a positive impact, it was “only a bandaid on a larger problem”. She returned to school, going to Stanford for her Master's in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Sustainable Design and Construction.
The Route to Entrepreneurship
“I was working full time before I had my son,” Viuker Brennan explained. “But I wanted to be home. I was very fortunate to have an arrangement where I was working three days a week, and while that was very special, it ultimately wasn’t sustainable.”
Opening her own firm, Confident Buildings, met Viuker Brennan’s needs in multiple ways. “I wanted more control and autonomy,” she explained. “I also wanted to focus on the Westchester market, and use my skills to make a difference here.”
Confident Buildings offers sustainability consulting to property owners. This includes energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, conscientious landscaping, as well as owner’s representation services which help ensure property owners and developers achieve their goals when their properties are being built or renovated.
“It’s been very rewarding,” Viuker Brennan said, “and I am able to be home with my son. But the challenging part is that everything ultimately falls on me.”
SCORE Westchester: A Framework for Small Business Success
“SCORE helped me in many ways. They provided a framework. Having a place to check in and have regular appointments helped me prioritize what I needed to do to get my business going. There was definitely an accountability factor. If we talked about an issue last time, I needed to have made some progress before I returned to meet with my mentor again.”
For Viuker Brennan, knowing what to do when was the most challenging aspect of launching her own firm. “There are a lot of logistics,” she said. “Knowing what you have to do, and in what order to do it –things like registering your business, incorporating, insurance, a website, the bank account, finalizing a name – was probably the hardest part.”
She also struggled to find the ideal balance between the type of work she loves to do – working directly with single-family homeowners – and the work available in the marketplace, which often includes owners of multi-family dwellings, co-ops, and condos. SCORE mentor Natasha Roukos, who also has an engineering background, proved to be a valuable resource in this regard.
Having gone through the launch process, Viuker Brennan reports that things are going great. “I have enough work, and things are moving along.” She’s currently working on forecasts to ensure the supply of work remains steady over the long term.
When asked what advice she would give to anyone else who’s in her position, she said, “It’s incredibly possible to put your skill set to work for yourself. I would encourage anyone to look into it! It is a bit daunting, but if you rely on the right resources (and they are out there), you can get it all done right.”