Executive Vice President of Emerging Business
Senior Vice President of Emerging Business
Best Buy's Kal Patel, 45, and Rick Rommel, 49, are expanding the idea of consumer electronics by exploring home energy and green personal transportation. First up is the $12,000 Brammo Enertia electric bike, which the company will debut nationally by year's end. Best Buy also sponsored Brammo's team in the TTXGP electric-bike race on the Isle of Man.
Patel: "We are looking at industries in turmoil. They hold a lot more opportunity, and you can't turn on the 6 o'clock news without hearing about gas prices, energy, or health."
Rommel: "We're aggressively experimenting with a broad array of personal-transportation ideas — and in other markets that are going through substantive change. You look at energy and, boy, it's not hard to map out how the consumer is going to experience changes in home-power management and home automation. Technology is at the heart of it all."
Patel: "When we enter a new space that the public doesn't quite expect us to be in yet, like electric bikes, we take a venture-capital mind-set. We invested millions in Brammo after our first meeting, in order to be taken seriously."
Rommel: "Years ago, Best Buy didn't sell cell phones or even computers. Best Buy brings consumers the technology in their lives. The Brammo bike is really a computer and a battery on wheels."
A version of this article appeared in the October 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.