June 21st, 2010

Namaste Solar Puts Their Money Where Thier Mouth Is – 2000% Growth in 3 Years [Audio Interview]

Interviews -

Solar, Colorado, Excel Energy, Lauren Coyne

Here’s a little snippet to kick off the the launch of The Green Light Distrikt – Boulder, an interview I did with Lauren Coyne from Namaste Solar about six months ago.

We’ve been kickin’ around Boston for the past couple months and now I’m curious how things are going in other US cities. We’ll do much the same thing that we did in Boston, recruit young cleantech pros that are working in the industry that are interested in joining our community. I’ve been speaking with James Moreau who is going to start writing soon. Stay tuned for his first post, the goal is to get a follow up with Namaste and potentially get some video footage. Also, if you’re in the Boulder area and interested in joining us, contact me.

Here’s the story.

Alteris Inc, a New England based company, was named to Inc 500, 500 fastest growing companies with about 1000% growth. While I was skimming the list I noticed that Namaste Solar had grown over 2000% in the same period, so I was curious about their growth.

Nameste Solar, Nameste, Solar, Colorado

I contacted Namaste and Lauren nicely and quickly responded to me.

Lauren is a co-owner, and in charge of education and community outreach. We had a great conversation, and it lasted about 40 minutes. I had to split the interview into two parts due to the constraints of uploading.

Here’s the interview

Nameste Solar Interview Part 1

Namaste Solar Interview Part 2

For your reference here’s an overview of the questions I asked during each part.

Part 1:

  • How did you get into the industry? What’s your story?
  • How did your experience getting the Colorado state incentives passed give you skills and information that were helpful in landing the job with Namaste?
  • You’ve grown so fast, what was the source of your growth? What challenges has that created for your company and how have you dealt with them?
  • You mentioned that the new incentives were a large part, but it seems like you have grown much faster then the industry and your competitors, what’s the reason for this?
  • What are unique aspects of your business model?
  • Describe the co-ownership model? It seems unique and gives you a clear social dimension do your business, why and how was that business model chosen and how do you keep that structure with growth?
  • How does co-ownership affect the day to day decision making process?
  • Looking to the future, do you plan on expanding into other markets other than Colorado with your current business model?

Part 2:

  • What hiccups do you see in industry growth in Colorado?
  • Has financing of residential systems drastically changed the Colorado market? How?
  • What are you most excited to see happening in the industry in the next 5 years?
  • What advice would you give to people, current graduates, career changers who are outside of the industry looking to get in?
  • You mentioned training and workshops, are there any particular things you’d like to see when going through resumes?
  • Within a solar company, do you see more opportunity on the sales, design or installation side?

Here are some of my reflections and conclusions after speaking with Lauren.

  1. She’s really nice. It was about six months ago that we spoke, but I still remember this.
  2. She has a really insightful explanation into the role of state incentives in Colorado and how the feed-in-tariffs with Excel energy work
  3. They donate 1% of revenue to develop solar on non-profits every year regardless of their profits.
  4. It’s clear that career changers need to stand out from the crowd and do something to show their passion for the industry. If they’re looking to get into the industry just to make money, it won’t make your attractive to companies, you need to be dedicated to the mission.
  5. The largest that stood out is it seems that Nameste Solar put their money where their mouth is. Here are some examples:
  • They operate a low emissions fleet
  • They operate in LEED certified building, zero waste buildings
  • Co-ownership model has clear social impact. At that time we spoke 47 of their 62 employees were co-owners.
  • Donate 1% of revenue, NOT profit

All in all, I want to thank Lauren for speaking with me. I was great to learn about the Colorado industry and I’m looking forward to seeing if James can get some video footage of some of their installations.

What did you think about the interview?

Chris

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Chris Williams

About Chris Williams

Chris Williams is the editor of Green Light Distrikt and Chief Marketing Officer at HeatSpring . He has experience in business development, prototyping and new venture research with a focus on geothermal heat pumps, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies. Chris is an IGSHPA accredited geothermal installer and NABCEP certified solar installer. Chris is focused on solving customer facing issues in the creation and adoption of clean energy technologies and products. Chris has installed over 300kW of solar and tens of geothermal systems. He's invented the PV Pal , developed many trainings at HeatSpring, publishes the NABCEP Study Guide , the Hitchhikers Guide to Cleantech and has done due diligence research for Urgent VC . Feel free to connect with him @topherwiliams , on Linkedin , or through email about new ventures, collaborating, writing, research or whatever is on your mind.