Kerim Baran and I teach HeatSpring’s Solar Entrepreneurship course. About fifty students have enrolled since we launched in April, and periodically we do live ‘office hours’ with guests. This is a conversation we had with Luis Troccoli and Tim Hettermann from Palmetto about their Build+ program for solar entrepreneurs.
Jump right to 4:30 if you want to skip the intro.
Our conversation with Tim & Luis wasn’t intended as an endorsement – we just met them – but I do think they’re addressing a need in the market since we talk to so many technical folks who shy away from the ‘business stuff’.
The bottom line is that they’re looking for applicants in MA, PA, and TX with the following qualifications:
- 5 years of solar installation experience
- Electrical contractor’s license (or a partner with one)
- $10,000 in capital to support the business
Here’s a transcript of Luis’s introduction to the program. We edited it a little bit for clarity and included timestamps so you can jump to the part of the video if you want:
Congratulations to everybody who is taking the first step to launching your own business.
I’m also a serial entrepreneur launched several companies. And, and I can tell you it’s no small task. It all starts with one step. So congrats on that. Here at Palmetto on the call, you have myself, [00:05:00] I’m the director of the Build+ program here at Palmetto. And I know, Brian, you met Tim he’s our program coordinator, but we are to have a much larger team of people behind both Palmetto and Build+.
The first step is I wanted to give a quick introduction to Palmetto as a whole. If you guys have not heard of Palmetto that’s okay. Palmetto is actually one of the fastest growing solar technology companies in the U S right now our motto, our mission, is this concept of clean energy is for everyone. Right? So we’ve we’ve actually been in the industry for a while. We’re an 11 year old, old company based out of Charleston, South Carolina. But for the last two years, we’ve we’ve really changed our model. We used to be kind of a more traditional vertically integrated solar company.
Really where we focus now is being the technology within the platform, and enabling partners, both on the sales side and what we call the build side or solar integrator side. Really to, to kind of leverage their expertise. Right. All in the spirit of lowering the cost of solar, and making it kind of more attainable for [00:06:00] everybody.
If you were talking to our founder, Chris Kemper, like that’s what he’d say. And we really work every day to find ways to make solar more attainable. More achievable for everyday people. As a company, we have 400 employees nationwide. And as I mentioned, we do not do our own installation.
We work with a distributed partner network. Right. So all the, all the glass that gets installed, we’re only in residential, is done by third-party contractors. But we’re again, 23 different states. Right. So that that’s kind of Palmetto – as a quick snapshot, what is Build+?
Build+ is that an absolutely new program for for Palmetto. Traditionally we’ve been kind of recruiting traditional solar integrator partners for a while, right? We have over a hundred partners across our 23 states, but we decided to launch this particular program with two primary goals.
We want to help individuals, solar professionals, whether they’re solar, electrical looking to like take that step [00:07:00] into solar entrepreneurship; helping them take that path. Right. And so the program itself is a 12 month solar incubator program.
We look at this triangle. It really focuses on three key areas. Training support, right? Just understanding again, you may be a fantastic solo professional, but maybe you’ve never really launched a company. Right. So all like the questions around that, and we’ll dive into that in the next slide – business services.
All the various services that a new company would have to secure. And then obviously the third and probably most important is the installations, the work itself. Right? So the partners that we work with, we actually don’t partner necessarily as part of this program with sales organizations or anything like that.
We want, we want to be the partner that bringing you the jobs. And part of this, one of the key benefits that we’ll speak to is that for applicants to get accepted into this program, You know, we guarantee a certain amount of volume for that 12 month period, basically to help you get on your feet.
That’s really one of the [00:08:00] hardest parts about launching a new solar business is making sure that you have enough jobs to, to kind of support yourself and obviously your team. So that’s, you know, it’s, it’s kind of a first of its kind it’s really hasn’t been done. But we look at it as both a win-win we want to see.
Kind of the solar network grow. We want more people getting into the solar business and what we have found is partners that we work with more closely at the beginning, ended up becoming better partners. Right. We work more closely together. We can kind of carve out costs and inefficiency in a better way.
So there’s a lot of pros into this program, but for, for the audience itself, you know, what does this actually look like? So the builder pro build press program, like I said, it’s 12 months. But really it’s broken up into three key phases. So the first 30 days is really kind of a checklist of all the little things that come into launching a business.
That includes business formation, licensing and insurance support. Accounting and payroll recruitment, team management. So all the things that you really have to get set up and again, applicants into [00:09:00] the program come from a wide variety of areas, right. In an experience. So maybe I already have an LLC formed.
Maybe I have insurance because I do some side gigs, but really, we help you get that all secured until like we are ready to operate a fully functioning solar integrator business within the first 30 days, the next 90 days of the program, you’re out in the field. You’re you’re installing glass, right?
So you’re, you’re up on roofs, right? With your newly created team, with the team that you brought into the program with you, right. You’re installing systems. And then we have a lot of, again, all the markers that we have that we operate in, again, even though we don’t do the installations we do have field support?
So we have teams out there that, for Build+ members are doing the first install oversight, just look kind of giving tips and tricks, especially for some applicants of our accepted applicants that might not have as much solar, residential, solar experience. We do set up weekly owner calls.
So again, we’re talking to you [00:10:00] every week: “How’s it going? How can we help? What are the kind of costs that you didn’t expect? How can we mitigate those costs?” And then we would actually look to expand your team. Within the first four months of the program, and then the four to 12 is hopefully, you know, it’s just growing.
Optimizing your cost structure, you know, trying to get our partners to be as profitable as possible. And then we look at, you know, graduation and then keeping the partnership with Palmetto going post post-program graduation. So that’s just a quick, very quick snapshot.