Innovators of the EIC is an interview series featuring innovators who work in or on the Energy Innovation Center building. These interviews ask our innovators to share what they do, how they innovate and what they’re excited to be working on. This month, we interviewed Joshua Pollard, the President and CEO of Omicelo.
What is the focus of your organization?
Omicelo is a mission-driven real estate investment firm. Our mission is Home| Health |Wealth. We focus on providing homes and the base tenets of wealth creation and health for the people in the communities we serve.
What is your role within your organization? What is a typical workday like for you in that role?
I am the President and CEO of Omicelo. My typical workday is spent ensuring both my internal team and our external partners are well taken care of. I spend the majority of every day making nothing short of 15-20 phone calls and responding to up to 50 emails ensuring our robust set of partners are well taken care of and successful.
What do you enjoy about working at the Energy Innovation Center?
I would say, for my company, the ability to expand and to do so amongst the innovative companies that are inside the Energy Innovation Center. Inside the building are the more innovative sections of local universities and forward-thinking private companies. We knew we would be amongst socially conscious neighbors which is critical to our growth plans. We’ve grown from four employees two years ago to 20 employees today, so we also knew we needed a place where we can expand as we continue to grow.
What role does innovation play in your work?
At Omicelo, we invest, we build and we teach. When you put those three together, I believe that mix is innovative by itself. There are very few companies that entertain doing all three of those things. Trying to ensure you’re financially stable is hard enough as is, without multiple foci.
However, for us, we had an important decision to make early on: will Omicelo invest solely in real estate or will it also invest in people? We decided to do both. Many people make returns in real estate by buying low and selling high. The consequence of decisions like that in neighborhoods like the one the Energy Innovation Center is in is that it can lead to unnatural levels of displacement for amazing people. We wanted no part of that. We also recognize that intentions and realized results can be 180 degrees apart. We take our intentions a step further and ensure that the same place we were investing in real estate, we are investing in people. That’s why we made the decision as an investor to work closely with our affiliated nonprofit, Omicelo Cares, and other organizations around Pittsburgh and the nation.
The unique partnerships that we’ve been able to build with local and national health systems, local and national nonprofits, and individual communities have been at the center of our success. That said, we have so much more to do. I’m excited about the growth that’s ahead, not just for the company but for the communities that we aim to be a part of.
What are you most excited about that you are doing right now?
I’m excellent at making lunch right now. I’ve never been so good at making lunch for my family every day.
On the work side, we are preparing for the launch of our next real estate fund that we believe will be able to help many more families and partners.
What’s an accomplishment you’re extremely proud of?
In 2017 and 2018 our company took over a portfolio of homes in Homewood while roughly 100 families were being immediately displaced because of the actions of the previous owner. My team went to great lengths – lengths that we see very few, if any, real estate firms going to – to ensure that the families involved were actually taken care of. I’m very proud of my team for that. I’m also proud of my team and how they’ve responded during Covid-19. The amount of resilience that has been shown by our team to customers and partners has really been fantastic.
What is something you do when you’re not working?
My sons and I are taking beginner’s guitar lessons. I’m terrible at it so far but I really enjoy it. When we finish driving their mom and sister crazy, we have full family dance parties. Those are a blast!
Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why?
My parents. When I look at my life right now, I see my parents’ thumbprint all over my work. Between economic development and this deep passion for people, that’s my mom and dad mixed into one big bucket. Their undying desire to see both people and communities be well and wealthy is directly at the center of my personal passions. I bring those passions to Omicelo and this amazing building every day.