In this blog post, we are introducing you to Camille Lopez, the founder of HY-Plug. Camille is a dynamic and multifaceted entrepreneur who embodies the spirit of ambition and versatility. At just 26 years old, she has already carved a niche for herself in the competitive world of international business, sustainability, and the maritime industry. Her business path is a testament to the power of passion, education, and a commitment to making a difference in the world.
Camille shares her experiences, insights, and vision, offering a glimpse into the life of a young entrepreneur. She is dedicated to driving sustainable change in the maritime sector.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Who is Camille Lopez?
Camille Lopez is a determined and ambitious 26-year-old. Graduating with a Master's degree in International Management from the International University of Monaco in 2021, Camille has acquired a solid academic foundation in global business management.
For 3 years, she worked in the automotive industry, covering various areas such as sales, marketing, events, procurement, and distribution, demonstrating her versatility and adaptability.
Her skills include strategy, negotiation, business development, supply chain management, marketing, innovative entrepreneurship, as well as the cross-functional skills required to run a business.
In addition, her sailing experience, holding all the required sailing licenses (coastal, inland waters, offshore, SRC), demonstrates her commitment to and familiarity with maritime activities.
Finally, her passion for motorsports and karting, combined with her role as a 2-stroke mechanic and endurance team manager, testifies to her determination to succeed in demanding environments.
What's more, her H2 karting project underway this year demonstrates her enterprising spirit and ability to take on new challenges. Camille's background makes her a concerned person about the technical aspects of the marine industry.
2. Can you share a memorable experience or moment that has fueled your passion for sustainability?
Transforming my perspective on decarbonization became a profound journey shaped by two distinct experiences. The first occurred during my early years, navigating the azure waters of the South of France with my father. Witnessing a disconcerting grey pollution cloud on the horizon, I realized environmental concerns were tangible issues, not just distant TV topics. This realization struck even during my idyllic sailing adventures as a 10-year-old. Additionally, my father's influence and upbringing instilled in me a deep respect for nature and a mindful approach to consumption. These values, imparted by his example, have become an integral part of my outlook on sustainable living.
The second pivotal moment unfolded a couple of years later, as I delved into the world of coding while situated in a house overlooking the sea. The breathtaking sunset backdrop was marred by that same ominous grey pollution cloud, casting a shadow over the scenic beauty. It was a stark realization that environmental degradation was not an isolated incident. It's an escalating problem, gradually advancing in our daily lives. These moments prompted me to acknowledge the urgency of decarbonization as a pressing reality, demanding collective attention and action.
3. What inspired you to launch your own consulting firm?
I come from the automotive industry, where I honed the art of selling products that align with the sales agenda. This approach, often prioritizing sales over genuinely serving the client's interests, is a standard practice in the industry's behind-the-scenes dynamics. While this approach didn't align with my personal values, I appreciate the experience for the valuable techniques it imparted. However, the sales experiences I cherished were those involving personalized attention to customers. Working collaboratively, we customized every aspect of a car, from options to colors, ensuring the shortest factory delivery time. This process often culminated in a special touch, like home delivery with flowers.
When the idea for HY-Plug emerged, I found myself contemplating how to align my values with working toward customer interests. This introspection led me to embrace a consulting role as the most fitting option.
On the flip side, the inception of HY-Plug stemmed from my competitive mindset. During my pursuit of a business plan competition in Monaco, while completing my Master's at the International University of Monaco, I distinctly remember declaring, "I don't know how, or with which project, but I want to compete and win something." This marked the beginning, and after months of dedicated effort, the application was complete, resulting in the first double award: Yachting and Sustainability.
HY-Plug is a convergence of my passion for mechanics and daily needs, a commitment to environmental sustainability, and a deep love for boating.
4. How has your education empowered you to take on the challenges of launching a consulting firm? Are there specific skills or knowledge gained during your academic experience that you've found invaluable in your current role as an entrepreneur committed to sustainability?
This company is deeply rooted in my educational journey, shaping both my professional and personal life. As mentioned earlier, my experiences in the automotive industry provided me with comprehensive technical knowledge and a penchant for in-depth research. These skills, along with a commitment to high-quality deliverables, form the bedrock of our daily operations and overall company strategy. Additionally, my genuine passion for mechanics and automotive sports is crucial in establishing credibility and fostering understanding with engineers and technical departments.
The dedication to sustainability in our company ethos isn't a recent development; it's rooted in values instilled by my parents. Additionally, a profound technical grasp of the decarbonization concept complements these values. This mix of personal beliefs and technical knowledge guides our commitment to making a meaningful impact on sustainability.
5. Could you share the primary goals and mission of HY-Plug in promoting green energy solutions in yachting and maritime industries?
HY-Plug, a consultancy specializing in the maritime energy transition, offers support services focusing on hydrogen, electric power, and biofuels. We have chosen to concentrate our activities in two strategic regions: Six-Fours-les-Plages, in the south of France, and Monaco.
Our main objective is to achieve maximum decarbonization of the yachting industry. To this end, we guide our customers through the energy transition, offering new energy refueling station solutions for ports and marinas. Additionally, we support yacht builders by proposing greener engines and generators. This involves incorporating renewable energy sources like hydrogen, electricity, biofuels, and bio-methanol, in direct collaboration with shipyards.
We are also raising awareness of the key players in this industry through our La Belle Classe Academy training program, hosted by the Yacht Club de Monaco. Our aim is to educate and raise awareness of the crucial importance of decarbonization for this industry.
6. How do environmental values and sustainability play a central role in the services and solutions offered by HY-Plug?
HY-Plug was founded to make an operational and concrete contribution to the decarbonization of the maritime sector. We select the studies we work on to ensure that they are not greenwashing projects.
We are distinguished by three fundamental commitments:
- Independence from suppliers: We evaluate and advise on their technologies without ever acting as a salesperson for them.
- Impartiality: We recommend technologies only if they correspond perfectly to the needs of our customers' projects. No commercial agreement ties our recommendations to suppliers. They are an integral part of our network. We examine their solutions under confidentiality agreements on behalf of our customers.
- Trust and confidentiality: All data and information exchanged is strictly confidential. We cultivate relationships based on trust, both with market players and with our customers.
HY-Plug's mission is to facilitate the connection between players in the maritime energy transition. We bring end-users and suppliers closer together through our consultancy services, thereby contributing to this essential transformation of the sector.
7. In your opinion, what are the most promising green energy solutions for the maritime industry, and how do they contribute to sustainability?
he quest for the most effective green energy solutions in the yachting industry is nuanced, and highly dependent on specific factors. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The choice of energy solutions varies based on factors like hull design, usage patterns, routes, and the owner's requirements.
The emerging consensus leans toward a diverse mix of solutions. Prominent trends in the industry include the integration of methanol generators and engines. Another key development is the coupling of hydrogen fuel cells with batteries. Additionally, there's a shift towards diesel-electric hybrid systems and the adoption of full electric propulsion systems for smaller vessels.
Exploring alternative approaches, the industry is actively delving into the possibilities of incorporating foils and sails. This in-depth exploration aims to uncover viable methods for implementation, enhancing efficiency, and contributing to the decarbonization strategy. It focuses on minimizing reliance on conventional fuels. The future of sustainable yachting lies in a multifaceted approach, tailored to the unique characteristics and needs of each vessel.
8. As someone deeply involved in the maritime energy transition, how do you see the yachting industry evolving in terms of sustainability, and what improvements do you anticipate?
The megayacht sector is at a crucial juncture, requiring time for transformation. Currently, yacht owners are hesitating to invest in new vessels due to image concerns, while charter customers increasingly opt for biofuel over traditional options. The industry is actively addressing sustainability through numerous conferences, aiming to propel positive change.
Some forward-thinking brands have spent one to four years carefully improving their generators and engines. Yet, a significant portion of the industry remains in the preliminary stages, not fully transitioning to serious consideration. This delay may indicate an underestimation of the matter's urgency.
In the near future, we anticipate the introduction of new propulsion systems on yachts. Nevertheless, the crucial question of fuel bunkering remains unresolved. It appears that we will undergo a phased approach to adopting new technologies, initially integrating them with or without fully decarbonized energies. Subsequently, there will be a second phase emphasizing the incorporation of decarbonized energies wherever possible. The final stage involves a widespread implementation of these technologies in both yachts and refueling stations at ports. The journey toward a more sustainable yachting industry is poised to unfold in multiple stages, requiring collective effort and commitment.
9. What role do you see startups like HY-Plug playing in shaping the future of sustainable boating and maritime practices?
The notion that "Energy transition is in the hands of young professionals" holds some truth, but it's a nuanced perspective. While the percentage of young individuals engaged in sustainability initiatives may be higher compared to their senior counterparts, we shouldn't overlook or underestimate the significant contributions of experienced professionals working behind the scenes. Many seasoned experts are actively involved in the development of new builds incorporating decarbonized energies, bringing invaluable experience and knowledge to the table.
Companies like HY-Plug play a pivotal role as key enablers for entities not yet involved in the sustainability sphere. This becomes particularly crucial as ports tighten regulations, and public opinion increasingly influences business decisions. Until financial or regulatory pressures become significant drivers, our focus remains on collaborating with early adopters. However, as these technologies become more mainstream, our accumulated historical knowledge and expertise will make us indispensable partners, aiding those who are just beginning to embark on their sustainability journey. It's a collaborative effort that draws from the strengths of both the seasoned professionals and the fresh perspectives of the younger generation.
10. As a young, female entrepreneur, what advice would you give to young individuals aspiring to make a meaningful impact in the field of environmental preservation and sustainability?
I don't categorize myself as a young, female, entrepreneur, or any specific label. Instead, I identify as someone profoundly passionate about my work even more mechanic, leisure marine, and sustainability, driven to make a significant impact on operational projects at the end of the value chain where real change occurs.
If I could offer advice in this field, it would be to approach greenwashing with great caution. In various industries, we observe brands adopting solutions that, upon closer inspection through the lens of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), don't genuinely contribute to decarbonization. Embracing sustainability shouldn't be a passing trend. It's essential to recognize that the allure of being environmentally conscious for a brief period won't go unnoticed. Eventually, such practices can tarnish a company's reputation. The decision boils down to a choice between short-term gains and a long-term vision, between fleeting trends and unwavering commitment. The choice is yours, and success lies in making that choice wisely and working tirelessly to uphold it.
Camille's story is one of relentless pursuit and genuine dedication to making a positive impact on the environment. Through her act and work, she reminds us that sustainable change requires more than just fleeting trends; it demands a long-term vision and a tireless effort to make a meaningful difference. Her insights are not just inspiring but also a call to action for everyone looking to contribute to a more sustainable future.