How a developer turned an idea into the industry-leading solar marketplace.
Written by Lex Kiebhafer of Who’s Saving the Planet?
For a long minute in the venture capital world (and on Shark Tank, for those of us playing at home) if you were pitching your new start-up, it was useful to say you were the “Uber of X”. Whatever X may be, cupcakes, thoroughbred racehorses, custom-fitted clogs, you wanted to be the business in the middle that aggregated the sellers and made it simple, easy, and efficient to connect to the buyers.
Yaniv Kalish, CEO, and founder of SolarKal set out to be the Uber of commercial solar installation, and by golly, he got there! Unlike taxis, the process of spec’ing out a solar project, from understanding the electrical needs, the physical capacity of the space, the budget, and so forth, was extraordinarily complex, so much so that the time it took to figure out which solar panels to get and who to trust to install them wasn’t worth the energy savings to mid-sized businesses. Yaniv recognized this inefficiency and set out to solve it, unlocking the potential of solar while providing a much-needed service to both the buyers and the sellers.
Today, SolarKal is the industry-leading marketplace for solar installation, facilitating over $100,000,000 in transactions in 2020. However, unlike Uber, Yaniv didn’t part with huge stakes in his company to get there. We talk about what it takes to bootstrap a business, how to weigh the benefit of outside capital with the sacrifice it could mean for the business, and the importance of building the right team from the start.