Does software help make Renewables more competitive? (Ep 055)

"Know what you own, and know why you own it." - Peter Lynch

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Welcome to Episode 55 of SunCast!

There's an aweful lot happening in new projects in the US and Latin America lately, despite the fluctuations of economy and the pending trade case!  Did you see the latest Argentina Renovar 2.0 bids were received last week?  The ministry received a total of 228 offers, more than 9.5GW in potential projects latest auction that it estimates will bring US$11bn in investment to the sector, in wind, solar, biomass, biogas, small-scale hydroelectric and landfill biogas projects. And with the Chile PMGD market heating up, and the latest Mexico Energy Auction set to be held in November, there are going to be a ton more projects going in the ground. And all those projects mean operating assets that have to be managed!

So today I thought I'd bring in an expert on Asset Management to better understand what exactly is happening once the plant is turned on an operating.  Many of us don't really have a glimpse into this side of the plant, as we're focused on the upfront sales, marketing, and installation aspect, but with over 300GW in global operational assets being managed, one asks, Who is handling all that data, contracts and compliance?  Tune in today as we discuss this and more with today's guest, Edmee Kelsey, founder, and CEO of 3Megawatt. 3MW is the industry leader today in solar asset management software, with >16GW of assets on their platform, so I sat down with Edmee to get a bit better insight into the topic. Hope you enjoy it!A quick reminder to check out the webinar series 5to50: The Secret Formula to Conversion, being hosted by SunCast, SolarLeadFactory & SolarEdge - This is webinar number 2 of 3, building on what we presented on Oct 13th all about Lead Generation.ou're interested in tips on how to prepare for massive growth in your solar business go to www.mysuncast.com/webinar to register for the upcoming webinar happening Friday,  November 3rd.

This episode is brought to you in partnership with Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like to see how Solrates can help You quickly and easily deliver a financing proposal to your customers, Head over to www.mysuncast.com/SolRates and click on the Request an Invitation button.

Thanks again for setting aside THIS time in your day.  Enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with Edmee Kelsey.
 

Chad Medcroft on bringing Zep Solar to market (Ep 054)

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He did his first solar installation in 1996 in Rochester, NY, involved in some of the first grid-tie PV systems to be installed in the Northeast.  At that point in time, they were manufacturing their own rails out of extruded aluminum. Many of their solar thermal modules were brought back from the various trade fairs of the day. Trace Inverters were among the most common and popular, and they were among those installing the then-popular SolarX modules. Many of the projects were off-grid of course. So, these were days where the cost of going solar was more closely related to the alternative cost of stringing lines outfrom the closest Utility pole, which could often exceed $40-50K! 

Times had not changed much from the late 90's to the early-to-mid 2000's when Chad Medcroft found his way back to the solar installation scene.  Systems were a lot smaller then, as were the solar panels, primarily because of the cost of a solar system, which often exceeded $12 to $15/Watt.  Major vendors you'd recognize today like Unirac, Quickmount PV, or even SMA and SunPower, simply weren't present then, and many of the installers of the day manufactured their own equipment, hardware, racking, etc.  So Chad, from his very early days, has been involved in helping drive out the cost of the hardware and installation methods to increase efficiency in a solar project.  He just happened to get involved at a time when all this was about to drastically change, and the grid-tie boom was about to take shape.

Today on SunCast, we go deep about the ups and downs of this industry. Chad's been at the top & bottom of the food chain, successes & failures, and lots of lessons learned along the way. Some of you may know Chad Medcroft, as he was one of the key executive team members responsible for growing Zep from a niche California residential racking manufacturer to the largest market share in the US Residential market (and now beyond after it's acquisition by SolarCity).  We get into many details about that experience, and the PTSD of being acquired by a major industry player!  Tune in today as we discuss:

  • Ways Chad helped reduce the soft costs of solar installation
  • The hurdles to scaling resi & commercial solar companies
  • Benchmarks and resources for installation and engineering best practices
  • What it's like to watch your baby be absorbed into a larger organization
  • And some of Chad's Aha moments and advice for others on a similar path.
     

Chad cut his teeth in solar more than 20 years ago, and has done a lot of thinking about how the industry can improve and what he could have done, and can now do better to contribute even more. And I think you're gonna love this discussion.

You should also check out the webinar series being hosted by SunCast, SolarLeadFactory & SolarEdge - we had installment 1 of 3Last week all about Lead Generation, and it was a PACKED House with a ton of value delivered.  If you're interested in tips on how to prepare for massive growth in your solar business go to www.mysuncast.com/webinar to register for the next one happening on November 3rd.

This episode is brought to you in partnership with Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like to see how Solrates can help You quickly and easily deliver a financing proposal to your customers, Head over to www.mysuncast.com/SolRates and click on the Request an Invitation button.

 

If you like what you hear, or read, please SHARE it!

 

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets.  The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Tactical Tuesday: NEC & UL Codes, things you should know with Mika Nuotio (Ep 053)

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Welcome to Tactical Tuesdays, a weekly short-form conversation with subject-matter experts to give you the edge in building your solar business and brand.

This week, we welcome Mika Nuotio of Empower Micro Systems.

Mika and I discuss:

  • The nature of how power electronics sector works and implication for solar industry, inverters, etc.
  • What changes in UL and NEC standards are driving inverter and module electronics architecture evolution?
  • How is safety in power electronics evolving?
  • What is UL 1741, how has it evolved and what implications are there for solar technology development? When is compliance required?
  • What is Rule 21
  • Is the US leading or lagging in terms of grid integration and control standards?
  • What is Low-voltage ride-through and why is it important?
  • What is Reactive power?
  • What is NEC 680.2 & The background behind Rapid-shutdown
  • And who is really driving this regulation, and when is compliance required?

Mika really breaks things down to very specific details, but I think he manages to keep it approachable by the layman, which appreciate.

So Tune in, and Tune-up your skills.

Thanks for checking out Tactical Tuesday and please share this episode with someone you think would benefit!
SHARE it with this pre-filled tweet!

Building a Brilliant Tomorrow with TJ Kanczuzewski of Inovateus Solar

Building a brilliant future is more than a tag line, it's TJ's life mission.

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Today on SunCast, we're gonna get to know the CEO and chief innovator at Inovateus Solar, Mr. TJ Kan-chew-zeski.  TJ is one of the most high-energy executives I know, and he leads a team of winners and not just in the famous Solar Battle of the Bands - but don't take my word for it, tune in as we discuss:

  • The time-honored tradition of taking over the family business
  • Best places to work and having a fun culture
  • Growing a nationwide presence with staying power, in particular what TJ believes were the keys to their staying power
  • The power of a pivot
  • Detailed, and I mean detailed examples of tactics TJ has infused into Inovateus to foster growth and productivity
  • And so so much more, probably one of the best reading lists yet

This really was a blast to record and is jam-packed with good insight into how to build a thriving company straight from the man who's dedicated the last decade of his life to it.

This episode is brought to you by Buyourfuture - You can go back and listen to Episode 25 or go to http://bit.ly/buyfuture to learn more,

And in conjunction with Solar Lead Factory & SolarEdge - we had installment 1 of 3 TODAY on how to prepare for growth in your solar business. 
Go to www.mysuncast.com/webinar to learn more, and join us for the next one on November 3rd.

Oh, and stick around ALL the way to the end, because everybody loves a good party!

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Tactical Tuesday: Tor Valenza, aka Solar Fred, on "What is Content Marketing?" and other marketing strategy topics that matter

"Whatever you do, have a goal for that tactic."

Welcome to Tactical Tuesdays, a weekly short-form conversation with subject-matter experts to give you the edge in building your solar business and brand.

And first up, my friend Tor Valenza, AKA Solar Fred, is back to discuss Content Marketing. What is it? How can you integrate it into your marketing strategy? Where does Social Media add value, and even who are some of the thought leaders Tor recommends we follow.

Tune in, and Tune-up your skills.

Thanks for checking out Tactical Tuesday and please share this episode with someone you think would benefit!

If you like what you see and hear, please SHARE it with this pre-filled tweet!

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Know your Scene, 2 Yrs of SunCast, & exciting news

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"Surround yourself with creative, smart, good, honest people and good things will happen. You are your scene."

Time to read: ~20 min

I can scarcely believe it's already been 2 yrs since the launch of SunCast! Today, October 6th, is in fact the exact anniversary. It also marks the beginning of my 39th trip around the Sun, woot!  Launching on my birthday in 2015 was an easy way to never forget the anniversary of the show!

There are 5 things I'll cover on this post today, so keep reading.

Today, on SunCast episode #50, we are going to dive deep, not with a guest, but with you. I'd like to tell you some of the things I've been thinking about and how I hope to create more value for SunCast as it begins to expand beyond a weekly podcast into a broader platform.  I began SunCast 2 yrs ago with the intention to create a place in the solar industry where you can come every week to get insights in to the Latin America solar market, hear from leaders in the space about how they built their business and careers, and create a community of solar warriors who are seeking to push the boundaries of what we're capable of doing.

Now, 2 years on, SunCast has evolved into in-depth discussions with solar founders and executives that give us the insights we need to develop ourselves as leaders in this and other industries.  And over the course of that journey, We have all learned some valuable lessons that I hope are contributing to the acceleration we all are experiencing in the transition to clean renewable energy sources.  I hope to (but don't yet promise, haha) write an article about the lessons learned and insights gleaned over the first 50 episodes, and welcome any of YOU to do it for me! Great way to draw attention to your own blog, btw! ;-)

TLDNR: SunCast, my solar-focused podcast, turned 2 yrs old today.  I am announcing the addition of twice-weekly content, more articles like this one, Webinars and trainings directed at helping you grow in your own solar career, whether you're just starting out, or an industry veteran like me.  I talk about what it means to create a "tribe" (which I hope you're part of), and announce webinar happening soon with some of my favorite people.

I'd like to first express a deep sense of gratitude for all of you who have been SunCast supporters these past 720 days! You're the reason I have showed up (with increasing consistency) to do this show, and you inspire me to continue.  I owe my excitement, momentum, and nearly 26,000 total downloads to your faithful agreement to join me on this journey.  Thank you!

And, Thanks to those who regularly contribute with positive AND constructive feedback via LinkedIn, Twitter, email, and yes, those amazing voicemails I have gotten from many of you. Keep 'em coming!

You may recall from Episode Zero, I said from the beginning that "I can't not do it" - and by that I was referring to sharing in a tangible form the information I have at my disposal (and continue to learn), and the drive I have for seeing the global energy markets evolve (in particular toward solar), as well as see the success of colleagues & friends (New & Old) as the market takes off.  And, while I believed at the time it would be exclusively focused on Latam as a fast-growing solar market, the show has grown to encompass much more than just insider market trends.  And I still believe that it serves as a safe place when you're feeling uncertain, like your work doesn't matter, or you're not making the impact you had hoped.  I hope you can return to SunCast and see that you're precisely as I said in episode zero, on the forefront of the charge into uncharted territory, on the cusp of something great.

I'm still here to help you sharpen the saw and scale your solar business.

The fun has begun, we're at Thing #1

We have heretofore accomplished this through long-form interviews, typically from 50 to 75 minutes in length, released every Friday evening for your weekend enjoyment.  I'm announcing today that, beginning with an awesome episode this coming Tuesday featuring Solar Fred, we'll be adding a weekly short-form episode I'm calling Tactical Tuesdays.  Think of this as mini-morsels of expert guidance along a specific topic. Perhaps it'll be, as is the case for this coming Tuesday's episode, an expert on marketing helping us thing through branding and content marketing strategy to grow our presence. These will be both curated by me, and recommendation-based by you, the SunCast listener.  I'll invite subject-matter experts to opine on topics as specific as "Resiliency" or "Understanding the UL Codes", but will also be highlighting interesting things I (Or you) think the community should know, and companies that I find who I believe are doing something differently, vanguard, cutting edge or who are just not getting the public attention they deserve!  The truth is at industry events like the recent SPI, I meet so many great people and gather such great content that I could never bring it to light without adding more publishing dates to the show.

And, occasionally, I intend test other ways we can engage - I'll speak more about the first of these at the end of today's conversation.

So that's announcement #1, This coming Tuesday, tune in for a topical conversation with "Solar Fred", Mr. Tor Valenza all about Content Marketing for your solar business.

Now the focus is on you, here's Thing #2

Today what's on my mind is what it means to create your own scene?  And what is a scene, anyway?

Jim Rohn has been quoted ad-nauseum for his adage, "you're the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with."  I believe this is very true in professional life, and so I am constantly seeking to surround myself with people who have done and are doing great things in life and business.  Heck, it's one of the foundational reasons Anyone should start a podcast!

And over the past two years, YOU have become part of my Tribe, and SunCast has become my scene.

James Altucher, one of my favorite authors and podcasters, wrote a great post (also very long) about the nature of creating your Scene, what it is, how to do it, and why it matters.  I'll give you the scrip notes here.

Surround yourself with creative, smart, good, honest people and good things will happen. You are your scene.

You can see the way a scene works in places like Silicon Valley: Facebook, Palantir, Youtube, Tesla, LinkedIn, Yelp, Yammer, and more were all either largely funded or started by ex-employees of PayPal.

If you watch interviews with comedians like Louis CK, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Chris Rock, they all worked together in no-name clubs for years, each opening for the other over and over again, until they broke out one by one and pulled their talented friends along with them.

In our own Solar industry, companies like SunEdison, SolarCity, Conergy, Akeena Solar, and Powerlight (and yes many others) have spawned some of the greatest entrepreneurs, cohorts and startups the solar industry has known.  I have a dozen or so friends in the solar industry who have been "with me" along the decade-long-path I've followed to find my own path in Solar, and we routinely get together to encourage and challenge one another. Many of them have been guests on this show!

Again, from Altucher, When people with positive energy are around each other, more energy is created.

More art is created. More innovation with more integrity with more opportunities. You literally can eat less if you are around people who are giving you energy and bringing you to a higher level.

When you do something you love, or even just something you’re good at (you will learn to love what you are good at) or even something you do with authenticity and integrity (because then you become the trusted source of a scene) then people will gravitate towards you.

So, How do you build a scene:

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And I really love this exhortation from James in his article:

"Never stop building each other up. Never stop making introductions (with permission from each side before you make an intro).

Never stop delivering value into the Scene. The more powerful the Scene, the more likely it is you will have fun doing what you do, make money at it, succeed at it, live off of it, love it, and make friends."

So, who's in your scene?  Am I, Could I be?  Would you join mine?

I am experimenting with ways for us to have more than this one-way dialogue. 
Please be sure to connect w/me on LinkedIn, but you can also join a group I created on the website YourPack - just go to www.mysuncast.com and click on "Pack" in the links bar at the top - I explain more about it in this week's episode, so give it a listen as well.

I'm also the manager of the LACSA group (>4400 members) on LinkedIn - should we create our own SunCast group?

Still with me? Thing #3

(Affiliate) One way I've found my scene outside the solar industry is by joining the BuyOurFuture community - if you're unfamiliar, go back and listen to  Episode 25 (half a podcast lifetime ago!) where I interviewed Jason Zook on why he started this community, sold his future (all of it, and his Wife's future too!) and a bunch of other zany entrepreneurial ideas he's had that are sure to stretch your idea muscle!
This is one of the tribes of humans I get the most value from in my professional and personal life.
So this weeks episode is brought to you by BuyOurFuture - go to http://bit.ly/buyfuture to learn more about why I believe this is one of the best investments I've ever made in myself and my life.

But wait, There's More.  Thing #4

I'll soon be sending out a survey to gauge just how I can serve you better - so if you're not signed up for my newsletter, please do that at the bottom of this post, so you'll get the email invitation to the survey.  This is as close as it gets to you directly influencing the content you get from SunCast, so please don't hold back!

Still Feeling the Jive? Here's Thing #5!

Finally, something I've wanted to do for a long time is to partner with others in our industry to bring you original educational content.  My first foray into this began back in July at Intersolar with a conversation with my new friend Mike Rogerson of SolarEdge. 

As we pondered what topics would be valuable for our industry, we found ourselves discussing the dilemma of most small and medium installers who are eager to grow, but unsure where their investment of time, money and effort would yield the greatest results.  Since that discussion, we have put together a 3-part webinar series that we're launching on October 13th, that's next Friday!

It's called, "5to50 - the secret formula to Growth."

You can go to www.mysuncast.com/webinar to register for Part 1 of that webinar series now, which happens in just 1 week on Friday, October 13th.

And hey if you listened to last week's episode with Scott Mueller, of Solar Lead Factory, you got a little preview of the thoughtfulness we'll bring to this training - and we're bringing Scott on as one of the subject-matter experts for these webinars.

It's a 3 part series centered on 3 pillars of growth - Leads (the seed), Conversion (more than metrics), and Revenue (make it profitable)

Part I - LEADS - Growth starts here

In Part 1 of this webinar series, we explore various types of leads, how to get them, and how to architect your approach for success with a special focus on how to leverage paid marketing as fuel to dramatically increase your sales.

  • What are the differences in sales approach by lead type?
  • How can leveraging strengths in certain approaches help or hurt success in other areas?
  • Which marketing strategies are most effective?
  • How does the ‘top of the funnel’ impact the rest of the funnel?

So come join some of the smartest folks in my scene, and let's learn together!

A lot to contemplate this week warriors, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to spend this time with you.  As always, you can find the shownotes and links from this and every episode here on www.mysuncast.com, so you don't have to remember it all.

 

While you're there, you can do me one huge favor, above all else, click on that rate & review button in the title bar - that'll tell you everything you need to know about how to subscribe, rate and review the podcast - and you can do that on iTunes, stitcher, pocketcasts, and many other platforms.  And I'm reviving the "launch" promo that I did back in the first 5 episodes, so if you're curious about that promo, and what you might win or how you can help, head over to mysuncast.com and click on "rate & review" to learn more.

As a great many of you dear friends head into another week on the front lines, I hope that you'll contemplate these ideas, and apply them.

How are you helping your team, and your scene, create truly differentiated strategies? Do you have the right people on the bus? Is what you're doing supporting the CASH needed within the business this week? Month? Quarter?  Is this conversation, task, or even conference helping you accomplish the One thing that will make all the other stuff either easier or unnecessary?

Above all, create amazing stuff. Help others do the same.

Soldier on solar Warriors, and keep showing up, as I hope to be here for another 50, another 500 episodes.

Until then,

Stay informed my friend, and stay tuned...

049: Unlocking dramatic sales growth to drive your business, Scott Mueller of Solar Lead Factory

Buying Leads is easy - actually converting them, that's where the magic lies.

This week's episode is one I REALLY enjoyed recording for 2 reasons. #1, it's mostly unscripted because of #2, it's after dinner with one of my favorite humans, Scott Mueller, and we aptly dubbed it the first Winecast, over a great bottle of Vino - It's officially WineCast #2 (see Episode 46 for WineCast #1) but let's not get into semantics!

Today I'll keep the intro short & focused on 2 important things you need to know, that tie back to today's chat w/Scott.

Thing 1: Scott is one of my solar brothers, part of my Scene, my tribe.

What does that mean, and why do you care? Well, that's the topic of next week's episode, which is #50, and which celebrates 2 awesome milestones in MY Life - my 38th birthday - AND the 2nd anniversary of the launch of SunCast!

So, next week's episode will take a look at how we build community, what has SunCast become over the first 50 episodes, how you all have in fact become my tribe of sorts, and what you can expect from the next 100 episodes! Exciting stuff, so please don't miss out on next week's momentous episode.

Thing 2: Scott has sold solar around the globe, including more than a year as a digital nomad while building his current company, Solar Lead Factory.  We get into lots of stuff today that is interesting, but the most notable and what I want to focus on is that on the heels of this recording, we decided to do a Webinar, which we just announced yesterday.  So let me tell you about the Webinar before we get into the show with Scott.

It'll be a 3-part series on growing your solar business, hosted by SolarEdge, Solar Lead Factory, & SolarEdge

October 13th - 10AM PDT

Part I - LEADS - Growth starts here

In Part 1 we explore various types of leads, how to get them, and how to architect your approach for success with a special focus on how to leverage paid marketing as fuel to dramatically increase your sales.

  • What are the differences in sales approach by lead type?
  • How can leveraging strengths in certain approaches help or hurt success in other areas?
  • Which marketing strategies are most effective?
  • How does the ‘top of the funnel’ impact the rest of the funnel?


This weeks episode is brought to you by Buyourfuture - go to http://bit.ly/buyfuture to learn more.

And by SunCast, SolarLeadFactory & SolarEdge - bringing you this awesome webinar in 2 weeks on how to prepare for growth in your solar business - www.mysuncast.com/webinar to learn more.This weeks episode is brought to you by Buyourfuture - go to http://bit.ly/buyfuture to learn more.

And definitely, Stay tuned next week for a solo episode with a bit of a look back at starting the podcast, and a riff from me on building your tribe.

Alright! Thanks again for taking the time to be here.  Enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with my man, Scott Mueller of Solar Lead Factory

048: Solar Fred, the state of marketing in the solar industry with Tor Valenza

"Brand is a feeling."

Today we'll be spending time with a friend who's no stranger to the media and spotlight surrounding solar, and who has been a major voice advocating for the solar industry's maturity both as a resource and as a marketing community vying for people's attention in a crowded space.  Tor Valenza, AKA, Solar Fred, is a strategy advisor and communications consultant for a number of well-known companies, and regularly shares his insights, thoughts and recommendations with us through social media and online publications. So I thought I'd have Tor come on SunCast to not only dig into his background, but to hear his take on how solar companies can learn from the best marketers in the world and what we should be doing to up our game.

In today's episode, Tor and I discuss:

  • The making of Solar Fred
  • What is branding, and how are solar companies getting it right
  • What's holding many solar companies back
  • The failures that have led to Tor's successes
  • What you can learn from a giant solar panda in China
  • A ton of book recommendations and other goodies related to marketing best practices

And, of course, If YOU have someone or something you think should be on Suncast, you can shoot me an email, a LinkedIn message, or even just pop over to the website and leave me a quick Voicemail, right from your smartphone! That website is www.mysuncast.com and email is nico@mysuncast.com.

This episode is brought to you in partnership with Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like to see how Solrates can help You quickly and easily deliver a financing proposal to your customers, please reach out to me directly for an invitation code to join the platform.

Check back next week, and I'll have a list of resources from our conversation posted here...

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047: Jeff Spies, The solar historian

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"PV has allowed me to make a contribution that matters to me...the work that I've done is purely a function of seeing what I think needs to be done and seeing that nobody else is doing it."

Welcome to Episode 47 of SunCast. I'm so glad you you're back with me again this week! I'm just back from an amazing time at SPI 2017, and I'm exhausted, but wanted to make sure we are staying on track with the next episode here as we continue to bring you actionable content focused on helping you grow as a solar leader and professional!

Today we'll be spending time with someone who is VERY acquainted with the Solar Pioneers and their stories!  My friend, and fellow podcaster, Jeff Spies, has been in the solar industry for nearly exactly the same amount of time I have (that's 11 yrs and counting!) and I don't think Anybody has spent as much time as he has thinking about how to tell the story of the dawn of the Solar PV Industry and the vanguards who ushered it out of obscurity and into mainstream. His Solar Pioneer parties are legendary, so stay tuned to hear how you can attend the 3rd and final one this November!

In today's episode, we get into detail about:

  • Jeff's journey into solar, from his early days at AEE to now
  • What exactly is this Solar Pioneers party he keeps talking about on LinkedIn and Facebook and why you should attend?
  • Which contractor trade Jeff expects solar to most resemble as it continues to evolve
  • His take on Hot or Not, and of course, books, lessons learned and much more.

I hope some of this resonates with you. I am queuing up more tactical episodes to keep you sharp, and I'd love to know what themes or areas of interest you're keen to learn more about!? What other problems or roadblocks can we help you remove? Would you please reach out to me to let me know how I can help either here on SunCast or even offline? I would love to hear from you. 

And, of course, If YOU have someone or something you think should be on Suncast, you can shoot me an email, a LinkedIn message, or even just pop over to the website and leave me a quick Voicemail, right from your smartphone! That website is www.mysuncast.com and email is nico@mysuncast.com.

This episode is brought to you in partnership with Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like to see how Solrates can help You quickly and easily deliver a financing proposal to your customers, please reach out to me directly for an invitation code to join the platform.

Thanks again for taking the time to be here.  I hope you enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with Jeff Spies of Quick Mount PV.

If you like what you hear, or read, please SHARE it!

Resources from today's Show:

Follow Jeff on Twitter, Facebook (Pioneers) or Facebook personal page
Or on LinkedIn

Jeff's own podcast: Quick Mount PV Solar Roof Talk

Learn more & Register for the Solar Pioneer Party (you'll need to hit me up for the "password" required to register)

Praise for the upcoming documentary and the Pioneer Party:

Books Mentioned:

What color is your parachute - Richard Bolles

Centeniel, Hawaii, and The Source  - all by James Mitchner


About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets.  The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

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046: Pam Cargill, Chaos Analyst

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"We want to take solar mainstream. If I continue to help people communicate their vision, how they run their companies, and communicate with each other better, then I can help make that happen."

Welcome to Episode 46 of SunCast.

Today, we will be spending time with my new friend, Pamela Cargill of Chaolysti Consulting.  You should have a listen if you're interested in:

  • Insights into how small companies prepare for growth in solar
  • Solid tools Pam uses to coach her clients along that path
  • What it's like leaving corporate to run your own consulting business, from a woman's perspective
  • And about a dozen other insights gleaned from this hour with Pam

Pam is an often quiet but ever-present force in the California solar market (and increasingly beyond!) and cut her teeth more than a decade ago schlepping modules and working on a crew installing in the Northeast. She then moved up to the marketing and operations teams at Sungevity before stepping out on her own. So, she understands a thing or two about companies that scale, common misconceptions, and how to frame the conversation.

Hey, speaking of which, we would love to know, what are you struggling with? What one thing is in your way that you'd like help solving? Are there areas specific to your business, or the industry as a whole, that you wish you knew how to do better, or where you're getting stuck? Let me know; I love brainstorming ideas and helping people think through these types of problems. And if I don't know it, I just might know someone who does, and we'll get them on the show!

If you'd like to schedule a 1:1 call w/me, you can now do that at www.callnico.com

You can also just shoot me an email, a LinkedIn message, or pop over to the website and leave me a quick Voicemail, right from your smartphone! That website is www.mysuncast.com and email is nico@mysuncast.com.

Resources from today's Show:

Follow Pam on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn personal & Business Page.
and of course on her blog, Chaolysti.

Books Mentioned:

Implementing Value Pricing - Roland J Baker
Start with Why - Simon Sinek
Good to Great - Jim Collins

Shout out to Barry Cinnamon's episode with Pam a couple of yrs ago - much more succinct intro and explanation of what Pam does!

Running A Successful Solar Business With Pamela Cargill by The Energy Show

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets.  The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

045: Unlocking Solar Capital in Latin America (LIVE)

"We have made a commitment to clean, reliable and fairly-priced electricity, and to electrify every home & business in every locality we enter." - Andy Bindea, Sigora International

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Welcome to Episode 45 of SunCast.

We're here to help you unlock your potential as a leader in the solar industry.

The recent Solar Pioneers Series we have begun, and some upcoming series on Solar Storage, Understanding Solar Finance, and more are aimed at helping you unlock the potential stored in the wisdom of Other people's struggles, growth and success stories, so I hope you keep coming back for more! 

Today, we'll take another pause in the Solar Pioneers series, returning to Latin America and a discussion I recorded live at the SolarPlaza Unlocking Solar Capital event in Miami back in June.

The first segment of this week's show (about 11 minutes) is from the "Keys to unlocking Capital for the Offgrid Market" panel moderated by Robert Constantino, with guests

JUAN FERMÍN RODRIGUEZ
CEO & CO-FOUNDER /// KINGO ENERGY

JOSÉ ORDÓÑEZ
CO-FOUNDER /// HYBRICO ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES

ANDY BINDEA
FOUNDER & CEO /// SIGORA INTERNATIONAL

ANNE GERSET
SENIOR IMPACT INVESTMENT MANAGER /// ENGIE

FERNANDO ALVARADO
PRESIDENT & CEO - SUSTAINABLE ENERGY CENTRAL AMERICA

They discussed:

  • How to obtain financing for off-grid projects

  • Keys to making off-grid business models bankable and best practices in risk mitigation

  • Opportunities for telecom integration in Latin America and possibilities for PAYG business model

  • Overview of business models with potential in mini-grid and off-grid segments

I wish I had recorded the whole thing, but hopefully the bits we got were insightful!

And the second segment of the show (about 30 min) is from a session we called

CEO Spotlight: Two Off-grid companies with vastly different approach to the market
Andy Bindea and Juan Fermin tell-all with Nico Johnson

It's a candid live session with 2 previous guests of the show, Episodes 031 & 032 respectively.  These are two of the smartest and hardest-working young entrepreneurs I've had the pleasure to interview, and they've both raised a lot of money!  I hope you enjoy this unscripted free-form session where I get into the differences between their two approaches to building an off-grid solar company in Latam.

I hope you enjoy both segments, and that you consider attending a future SolarPlaza conference.  Thanks again to SolarPlaza for all the support and for letting me run around like a reporter at this event.

Also mentioned in the show, SPI is in a couple of weeks!
Let's meet up! I'll be attending the annual Tweetup put on by my friend Tor Valenza, aka Solar Fred, and Kiterocket

Tue, September 12, 2017
5:00 PM – 6:30 PM PDT

LOCATION
Flex House (Booth 6340)
Mandalay Bay Convention Center

http://bit.ly/spitweetup

Hey I'd love to know, what are you struggling with? What one thing is in your way that you'd like help solving? Are there areas specific to your business, or the industry as a whole, that you wish you knew how to do better, or where you're getting stuck? Let me know; I love brainstorming ideas and helping people think through these types of problems. And if I don't know it, I just might know someone who does, and we'll get them on the show!

If you'd like to schedule a 1:1 call w/me, you can now do that at www.callnico.com

You can also just shoot me an email, a LinkedIn message, or pop over to the website and leave me a quick Voicemail, right from your smartphone! That website is www.mysuncast.com and email is nico@mysuncast.com.

044: Tony Clifford, Creating Rapid Growth as the CDO of Standard Solar

"I bet that you didn't know that the first rooftop array was installed in Manhattan!"
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I'm so glad you are with me again this week! We're back with another edition of the Solar Pioneers Series, and today's guest hails from the East Coast of the US. I know what you are thinking - "Wait a minute, Nico, aren't all the solar pioneers from California?"

 

Not all of them! 

 

Back in the 70s and 80s, there were a number of companies in and around the DC area that were quite innovative. Among them, Solarex. Today's guest was one of the early employees at Solerex.

When I met Tony back in 2010, he was the CDO of Standard Solar, a company he continues to lead today. 

I have had the pleasure of watching Standard Solar become one of the fastest growing and important solar companies, not just in the North East region, but now with an established presence across the US.

 

In today's episode, Tony and I discuss:

 

  • What it was like to work for Solarex in the 70s.
  • What Tony believes are the fundamentals or bellwether signs of a maturing industry (and where solar is along that curve).
  • What key employee characteristics he looks for when hiring into such a fast-growing company.
  • Tony's thoughts on the next 5 years ahead for the solar industry.
  • A fun Hot or Not segment, including Tony's thoughts on topics from Distributed Storage to the Section 201 Trade Case with Suniva.
  • ...and of course, some key lessons and advice gleaned from his 30+ years, not just in solar, but in scaling startups!

 

And lastly, if you or someone you know is selling commercial solar, you should check out Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like to see how Solrates can help You quickly and easily deliver a financing proposal to your customers, please reach out to me directly for an invitation code to join the platform. Did I mention it's free?

 

 

LINKS & RESOURCES:

Follow Tony on LinkedIn

 

ABOUT THE HOST OF SUNCAST:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets.  The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus
or by email nico@mysuncast.com

043: Smart Home, Monitoring on steroids, Blockchain & startup fundamentals with Stefan Grosjean of Smappee

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NOTE: I'm embarrassed that I said in the introduction Stefan and Smappee are from France - they're actually Proudly a Belgian company - I sincerely apologize for the gaffe, Stefan!

You know Shazaam, [the phone app] for music? So, Shazaam is using the microphone of your smart phone and is listening, processing, "ok, this is the melody for the song, ok, that's Pink Floyd!"  Well, we do the same, except for your home, and with ONE sensor, just one.

That's how Stefan Grosjean "explains" his latest startup tech company, Smappee, to me over coffee at the recent Intersolar North America show in San Francisco.

"In my home, I have 50 appliances, we can hear them all - they all have their own signature." And the intresting thing is, can "make electricity speak", and can distinguish between each appliance from lightbulbs to Playstation to toaster ovens and garage doors.

Stefan's company can make an electricity bill that's itemized, per day, per week, by kWh used for each appliance that's measured.  That begins to speak a story about your home that you simply couldn't hear before.  Amazing.

"We are a foot in the door."

Customers who have smappee start to really care about energy.

Since the unit is about $200, it's a very easy step, a low bar of entry into the world of energy saving.

With zero action, just monitoring, most homeowners see a 12% savings.

Imagine how powerful this data is for a solar installer who is looking for a creative gateway into more homes and more residential customers in their market. It's very similar to the Vivint approach of offering solar to existing home alarm customers, in that you develop a relationship with a customer over a transaction that doesn't break the bank yet gives you and your customer great insight into exactly HOW they are using energy!

There's an important thing missing here.  We're not just a classic energy metering company.

Energy is not fun. And we have to change that.

With our experience in Commercial & Industrial energy management [previous venture exited to Honeywell], we gained lots of insight into the customer by installing submeters, but this is an onerous & expensive process to actually make happen at the residential scale.  With homeowners, many of them are asking, "where is my energy going? I'd like to do something about it but I don’t even know which device is doing what at an electricity consumption level."

So, we designed something unique, one sensor, that measures thousands of times a minute and "hears the fingerprints of each appliance in the home."

Stefan thinks Installers & Contractors should start moving towards recurring business, the smart home system allows the contractor to begin offering ancillary recurring services to the homeowner, like alarm services, home automation/monitoring services, itemized billing, etc.

Furthermore, it's a foot in the door…and every good marketer knows that it's more cost-effective to sell more products to an existing client than to originate new customers.  And homeowners are much more likely acknowledge the value proposition of a home automation unit that is worth a few hundred bucks, which gives both installer and homeowner access to insight about how that customer can better be served with increasing energy efficiency and generation measures!

While I was recently in SF for the Intersolar N.America show, I was on the lookout for products that I thought were innovative.  Thanks to my friend Tor Valenza, aka Solar Fred, I was introduced to the guys from Smappee.  Smappee is WAY more than just a monitoring device, and I had the privilege to sit down with the founder, Stefen Grosjean, himself a serial entrepreneur, to dig into exactly how he his positioning the US launch of this innovative product. I'm happy to bring you that conversation, recorded live from Intersolar. In today's episode, we learn:

  • How Stefen and the Smappee team have been disrupting the building automation and information business for years
  • What exactly does Smappee do, and how could it revolutionize the smart home, not just connecting solar, but basically everything in the home
  • What Stefen means that every appliance in the home has a "fingerprint", and how smappee can "hear" it all with only ONE sensor
  • How the Blockchain can finally be realized for resi & commercial solar customers with Solarcoin - and of course how Smappee has been built to integrate it.
  • And something I think is quite a unique approach or concept - Stefen envisions Smappee can be a gateway product, or door-opener for solar installers to get into offering smart home and automation services that lead to recurring revenue models!

If you like what you hear, or read, please SHARE it!

I also get into Stefen's previous successful entrepreneurial ventures and what it takes to found and grow a company to exit (sold to Honeywell).  He blew my mind on several topics we discussed, and I was supremely impressed with Stefen, his product, vision and startup chops. I expect Smappee to do great things in their entry into the US Market.  And I expect enterprising solar installers to begin to realize the opportunity at their doorstep with integrating smart-home technologies into their sales process.

And lastly, if you or someone you know is selling commercial solar, you should check out Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like to see how Solrates can help You quickly and easily deliver a financing proposal to your customers, please reach out to me directly for an invitation code to join the platform. Did I mention it's free?

Comment

042: Cory Vaughan - Pt 2, After SunEdision, lessons from the trenches

Cory Vaughan has had the dream job, not once, but 3 times in his career.  He knows the highs and lows of the "Solarcoaster" better than most in our industry.  And he's spent a decent amount of time thinking about what he's learned from it all.  I'm lucky. We've been friends awhile, and he didn't mind spending 2+ hours with me on a Saturday to get some of it recorded for posterity - and as a bonus YOU get to hear it!

One thing I love about Cory is He knows how to get the buyer, the decision maker in a deal to ask "What's next?"

This is an unbelievably hard skill.

But it’s not the most important skill when you are growing your business or your sales team.

Just yesterday I was chatting with a business owner who admitted that he fears most of his commercial team are dealing with time-wasters. And as we know, time kills all deals.  He's mostly afraid that they are working on already-dead deals, they just haven't realized it yet, or that they're being used as a pawn for a negotiation with another company and haven't yet found the decision maker or economic buyer in order to get real buying signals. This solar company owner also is concerned that his commercial team still doesn't understand how to condense the story and qualify prospects quickly. Cory helps his team(s) avoid this, and it's one of the ways he's been able to rise from obscurity to being one of the top sales guys in our industry, wash, rinse, repeat.

I will tell you the most important skill. And Cory explains more clearly on the podcast.

The most important skill is to have your story down cold - know why you bring more value than your would-be competition, and move your "listener" along the story arc to the point they are ready to say, "great, what's next?".

Here’s the gap: The best in your profession have skills, experience, and they know how to sit down and DO something every day.

The beginners: they WANT to do something. They PLAN to do something. They SAY they will eventually do it. They THINK they have the skills they need.

But they never do it.

The ones who succeed. They have the arrogance to think they can just simply go out and do it. Despite not having the skills. Despite perhaps being total amateurs. They simply go out and DO IT.

By doing it, you LEARN the skills, you DO the job, and you get better.

DOING is the only way to succeed. Most people stop before this point.

Cory doesn’t typically surround himself with amateurs, as we discussed in Part 1 (how he thinks about building his team), but in all cases, his team gets out there and gets it done ahead of their peers. 

And his experience and example have been huge for me. He's been a mentor and friend in my professional career, and I'm still learning from him.  I hope you do to.

In today's episode, part 2 of my session with Cory and the 3rd episode in the "Solar Pioneers" series, we get into detail about:

  • The truth about SunEdison's rooftop leasing program and whether it created an advantage for them
  • How SunEdison set up regulatory affairs and gathered inside information on upcoming market development as a stealth way for their sales teams to look around corners and plan market development
  • How his team seemed to Always be ahead of the cost curve on solar project pricing
  • What it was really like to ride the rise and fall of the MEMC acquisition (of Sunedison)
  • Cory's vision for financing and storage solutions that will help the C&I market
  • Hot or Not, from DG to SAAS-for-solar to grid stabilization
  • Cory's advice to developers from his owned lessons learned
  • And what he'd do differently if he could start over with SunEdison again

Cory just doles out so much advice and insight in this follow-on episode, gleaning from 20+ yrs of experience selling solar!

Nota bene: Since the recording, Cory has merged his consulting practice with Lamb Energy to become EVP for the well-known EPC and energy services company out of Southern California owned for 26 yrs by Scott & Beverly Bailey.

We were also able to dig up a great video of Cory as Manager of BP Solar from 1998 - I link to the video in the show notes over at mysuncast.com - it's a must-see if you've known or met Cory personally!

Hope you've had an epic week of DOING something to move your career, your company and your goals to the next step! What's next?
 

If you like what you hear, or read, please SHARE it!

Books Mentioned:

How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie


Video Link:

The video I mentioned above of Cory in his prime back in the BP Solar Days - it's a must-see. ;-)

Earthchange II ..attack of the CO2s (1998) - part two


And, what I'm reading this week:

Idea To Execution - Ari Meisel


And one of my favorite Videos to watch lately about Storytelling - short & informative:

Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories

 

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets.  The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

Comment

041: Jing Tian, Trina Solar US President - One savvy woman's thoughts on career development, and contrast between solar startups and industry giants

"When you have self-care, then you feel better about yourself, which is a challenge when you're traveling on the road."

That's how Jing Tian answered the question "what one thing do you do consistently that yields the greatest results", which I always ask guests on SunCast. 

I followed it up with "Do you have that conversation with your team?"

"No, no I haven't, yeah, that's a good question."

In so many cases over the course of producing my podcast, SunCast, I've come across powerful and influential leaders who have their own private habits they attribute to their success when implemented consistently over time.  This was the first time it occurred to me to drill down to whether they actually share this often private and perhaps vulnerable aspect of their own view on success and work-life balance. It was insightful for me, and I hope it was as well for Jing, that many leaders tend not to share their own practices with their team - I wish more would.

I feel the solar industry is finally maturing.  From SunRun to SEIA and all across the solar industry, we're seeing the powerful influence of visionary female leaders rising to the top of what was once a predominantly male-centric industry, certainly in the C-Suite.  This is very encouraging, not just from the perspective of gender-equity, but also in leadership style. I am eager to see how the influence and emotional intelligence of today's women leaders will help reshape the culture of the solar workforce, from partnerships and negotiation strategies to career development.

Jing Tian is a seasoned executive with a unique blend of technical savvy and strong leadership in bringing products to market. From marketing to product development, engineering management to reliability and quality testing, there isn't much she hasn't experienced. She's consistently positioned her companies at the forefront of energy disruption as a scientist interested in creating useful and cost-effective products that help solve climate change. And she's recently taken the mantle of President of N. America for Trina Solar.

Today we'll take a pause in the Solar Pioneers series to chat with a friend who has done some pioneering work in solar R&D and in setting the bar for Women in Solar. I had the privilege to work with Jing when she first got to Trina Solar in 2014, and have been impressed from day one.  She was recently promoted as President of Trina's North America business unit. And I think that you'll understand after today's episode exactly why she has been able to achieve the great heights she presently enjoys. In today's episode, we get into detail about:

  • Jing's journey through various startup failures to arrive at now the top regional position for one of the largest and most respected Solar manufacturers in the world.
  • The contrast of working at solar startups in thin film and CPV versus one of the largest crystalline module manufacturers
  • Jing's approach to new product introduction
  • Her thoughts on career development, especially as a woman in a mostly male industry
  • Of course we play hot or Not
  • And I get Jing to dispel some wisdom learned from her viewpoint at the top of the foodchain, as well as books and other ways she keeps her mind sharp to run a global organization

Resources from today's Show:

Follow Jing and Trina on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn

Books Mentioned:

How to Create a Mind  - Ray Kurzweil

Jing's one consistent habit for success:

Exercise - running every morning at 6am!

If YOU have someone or something you think should be on Suncast, you can shoot me an email, a LinkedIn message, or just click on that button right there (on the right of the page --->) & leave me a quick Voicemail, right from your smartphone!

This episode is brought to you in partnership with Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like to see how Solrates can help You quickly and easily deliver a financing proposal to your customers, please reach out to me directly for an invitation code to join the platform. Did I mention it's free?

If you like what you hear, or read, please SHARE it!

 

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets.  The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

040: Cory Vaughan - Pt 1, Solar Cowboyz to Sunedison (The Mayor Arrives)

Wow, we made it to Episode 40 of SunCast! Thank you for choosing SunCast to fill your ears and I hope it's a beautiful day where you are. I promise you won't be disappointed, so thank you for investing another hour here with us.  This is a longer episode, so settle in for what I hope you'll agree is a fun and fact-filled episode.

Today we're continuing what I have dubbed the Solar Pioneers series. But before we begin, I want to take a moment to clarify and to honor the work of several others in the industry.

It's recently come to my attention that another friend and veteran in the industry, Mr. Jeff Spies, has been working on a similarly titled Documentary highlighting the lives and experience of those who were truly pioneers of the US Residential PV market beginning way back in the 60's and 70's, building some of the early businesses that helped launched solar pv as an industry. This [series] is not that. I apologize in advance to Jeff for any misconception aforehand, as I chose to use the term Pioneers primarily because the folks in this SunCast interview series have indeed been pioneers of business models and companies contributing to what might be called the modern Solar PV Growth era, beginning around the mid 1990's and into the 2000's growing some of today's iconic businesses. Though as we discovered last week with the inaugural episode, many of these folks, too, have been in the solar biz since the 80's, and have been instrumental in helping our industry scale to become one of global importance and dominance. We are all truly standing on the shoulders of giants, and it would be nearly impossible to capture all the voices of all those who were visionaries and martyrs in lifting solar out of obscurity into the mainstream.  If you'd like to learn more about the Solar Pioneer Party that launched Jeff into a 2 yr journey documenting the early days of solar in the US, check out solarpioneerparty.com. I'll also include a few links in the show notes for those interested.

https://www.solarpioneerparty.com/

https://inovateus.com/2017/01/24/coming-soon-documentary-film-celebrate-pioneers-u-s-solar-industry/

Back to today's episode, I first met today's guest in 2009, when I was a project developer in Northern California looking for financing solutions for our commercial customers.  Cory Vaughan was leading then-fledgling SunEdison's Channel growth strategy and national accounts team, and from the moment I heard him speak I knew he had many stories to share. Cory has had the good fortune of being an early team member with a front row seat to several startups that have become industry-leading behemoths, and in today's episode, we get into detail about:

  • His early days in retail and his pivot to working at British Petroleum
  • A group of fellow pioneers who call themselves the Solar Cowboyz
  • Cory's thoughts on selling in the pre and post-China era of low-cost solar panels
  • Being one of the first in and last out at SunEdison
  • How Cory thinks about growing his sales teams and bringing in strategies from other industries
  • A revised version of Hot or Not
  • And really so much more.

So much more, in fact, that this will be part 1 of 2. Cory and I talked for well over 2 hours, and while I've tried to winnow it down, I've decided to release this one as 2 parts. So, hope you enjoy Part 1 today, and get ready for an audio-history journey with a true storyteller.

Thank you again for showing up!  If there are specific things you'd like to hear more of, Please let me know. I can't do this without you, and I want to help solve your problems. 

If YOU have someone or something you think should be on Suncast, you can shoot me an email, a LinkedIn message, or even just leave me a quick Voicemail, right from your smartphone (did you noticed that green sidebar button?)! 

And one last thing, I also am grateful for those who choose to collaborate with SunCast, and this episode is brought to you in partnership with Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like to see how Solrates can help You quickly and easily deliver a financing proposal to your customers, please reach out to me directly for an invitation code to join the platform. Did I mention it's free?

Enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, continuing our Solar Pioneers series, with the inimitable Cory Vaughan.

If you like what you hear, or read, please SHARE it!

Links & Resources:

Follow Cory on Twitter, or LinkedIn

Email Cory Vaughan

Books Mentioned:

Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends & Influence People"

Video Link for:

The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations Into Breakthroughs

And, what I'm reading this week:

Ari Meisel's "Idea To Execution"

**

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets.  The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

039: Dan Shugar, CEO of NEXTracker, on scale, culture, and winning in business and life

I'm so glad you have chosen This episode to fill your ears with today, I promise you won't be disappointed.  We're going to continue our trip down memory lane this week, in what might be more like a Back-to-the-Future style episode for SunCast.

Today I'm launching what I call the Solar Pioneers series, and I'm honored, and super excited, to have the first in this series be with none other than Mr. Solar, Shugar Magic, Mr. Dan Shugar, CEO of NEXTracker, and one of the most successful folks I know in the business.

This conversation diverges from my typical interview format but is nonetheless packed with information on how one of our industry's leaders thinks about starting and scaling a business. Along the way, we touch on

  • Dan's roots as an engineer and researcher and how that has influenced his career path and leadership style
  • The 3 keys to growth of any start-up
  • The practical side of institutionalizing a corporate culture that is both aggressive and forgiving, empowering yet accountable, fun and fast-paced with industry-leading low turnover
  • Dan's thoughts on squeezing even more power out of PV power plants, including machine learning
  • and so much more.

So while we didn't get into Hot or Not, or book recommendations, or his Bold prediction, you'll want to listen all the way through especially if you have any interest at all in peering inside the mind and thought process of a guy who's built some of our industry's most iconic brands and largest power plants.

If you like what you hear, or read, please SHARE it!

Links & Resources:

Follow Dan on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn

Email Nextracker's head of communications: Kristan Kirsh

Books Mentioned:

Read **

And, what I'm reading this week:

**

Looking for more good articles?  Keep Reading:

**

You know, just by listening to this I already know that you're one of the rare individuals who invests in themselves and is never satisfied with the status quo. It is my hope that SunCast delivers massive value for you, and that each week you take something away that can concretely help you build your company or career and get to the next level of scale and impact.  Thank you for showing up!  If there are specific things you'd like to hear more of, Please let me know. I can't do this without you, and I want to help solve your problems. 

If YOU have someone or something you think should be on Suncast, you can shoot me an email, a LinkedIn message, or even just pop over to the website and leave me a quick Voicemail, right from your smartphone! That website is www.mysuncast.com and email is nico@mysuncast.com.

And one last thing, I also am grateful for those who choose to collaborate with SunCast, and this episode is brought to you in partnership with www.Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like to see how Solrates can help You quickly and easily deliver a financing proposal to your customers, please reach out to me directly for an invitation code to join the platform. Did I mention it's free?

About the Host of SunCast:

Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular conversation with Solar Industry professionals who are leading in emerging solar markets.  The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for insights on where the markets are headed, how to position themselves or their companies, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.

Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar PV expansion in the region.

Nico can be reached on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickalus

or by email nico@mysuncast.com

038: Arturo Herrero, CEO AlterPower, formerly head of Global Sales for Trina Solar & Jinko Solar

In Episode 38, we are going to take a trip down memory lane, to a time when names like Trina and Jinko Solar were yet unheard of in the solar industry, a time when the largest brands were BP, and Conergy, and countless other mainly western names you may or may not recognize.  When I joined Trina solar back in 2011, I became aware of a legendary figure who had been responsible for building the sales team there, and who had subsequently moved on to another Chinese company.  That mythical figure is the eponymous Arturo Herrero, and at long last we got a chance to sit down at the Miami Solarplaza event. Arturo has forgotten more things about growing a solar business than most of us have learned.

I learned a lot from Arturo, and I think you will too.  We cover

  • How Arturo climbed the ranks at BP Solar, and how he was ultimately enticed to move to China for a fledgling solar panel startup!
  • The contrast between growing Trina Solar's team and later moving over to repeat the process at Jinko Solar
  • How Arturo, who travels a ton, prepares himself to get into each new country he's traveling to
  • Where he believes are the next areas of innovation
  • And of course, what's hot, what's not, and so much more.

I'll be out in San Francisco at this year's Intersolar North America, and I just love meeting SunCast listeners.  So please let me know if you're out there.  IF you're interested in the Latin America market, I'll be the moderator for a Breakfast Briefing being held by my friends at Green Power Conferences. That event is from 8 to 10am on Wednesday, the 12th at the Kimpton in Union Square. I'll post more details on the website, so head over to www.mysuncast.com if you're interested in attending this year's Latam Breakfast Briefing and meeting me, Edgar Arvizu, Dino Barajas, and about 100 or so other solar leaders in the Latam market!

 As always,If YOU have someone or something you think should be on Suncast, you can shoot me an email, a LinkedIn message, or even just pop over to the website and leave me a quick Voicemail, right from your smartphone! That website is www.mysuncast.com and email is nico@mysuncast.com.

This episode is brought to you by Solrates.com, the fast and Free online platform for providing your commercial customers with a credible lease financing proposal. If you have projects over $100K value, and you'd like an invitation code to join the platform, please reach out to me directly for an invitation code.

Thanks again for taking the time to be here.  I do hope you enjoy this week’s episode of SunCast, with the one and only, Arturo Herrero.

037: Bob Blenker, CEO of WRB Energy

Bob Blenker is CEO of WRB Energy, an Independent Power Producer who is perhaps most well known in the solar space for the 28MW solar plant they built after winning the first Jamaica solar tender.  

Bob has done development in just about all types of energy, and is one of the most knowledgeable people I know and trust when it comes to learning about how this "game" works.  He's also traveled the world developing all types of projects and his stories are some of the funniest and interesting I've ever heard.

I loved hearing his insights into how they think about new market development, project funding, diversification, and many other topics.

This week's episode is a bit long, at 82 minutes, but well worth it. 

 If you like what you hear, please SHARE it!

SunCast is brought to you by Solrates. SolRates helps solar installers provide instant online financing quotes for commercial and industrial customers with projects $100K value and up. If you'd like an invitation code to join the platform, please reach out to me directly. Solrates is currently only offered for US-based projects.

036: Edgar Arvizu (Round 2), Be the CEO of your own Career!

Welcome to Episode 36 of SunCast.

Today we will be spending time with Edgar Arvizu, VP of Development at major global IPP, Sonnedix.  Edgar was one of my original guests back in Episode 4 of the SunCast launch!  Stoked to have him back for round 2.

Edgar is one of the top solar development leaders in the world today. I had fun asking him some probing questions, specifically about who, what when and where to build development teams, skills and strategy.

Stick around if you're interested in hearing:

  • What markets Edgar is spending most of his time in these days
  • Advice he'd give to himself now 8 yrs riding the solarcoaster
  • Key takeaways from mentors in his career
  • Critical things developers should STOP doing
  • And what areas of solar development Edgar sees around the corner that excites him the most

If you like what you hear, please SHARE it!

SunCast is brought to you by Solrates. SolRates helps solar installers provide instant online financing quotes for commercial and industrial customers with projects $100K value and up. If you'd like an invitation code to join the platform, please reach out to me directly. Solrates is currently only offered for US-based projects.