Ever think about starting a solar business?

The solar industry is growing and creating a lot of jobs. Some of those jobs will be at new firms – startups – founded by people like you. Smart people who see a need in the market and fill it.

Solar Entrepreneurship” is a course for entrepreneurs at any stage. You might have an existing business, be in the process of starting, or just have an idea. No matter what stage you’re at, Kerim Baran is somebody you should meet.

Kerim grew up in Turkey and moved to the United States for college. He started and sold a technology business before co-founding CivicSolar, a solar distribution company that was acquired by CED Greentech in 2019. Last year Kerim started SolarAcademy. He has big dreams about connecting people and sharing knowledge in better ways. He invests in solar startups and brings positive energy to every project he works on.

The reason to take Solar Entrepreneurship is that you’ll meet and work with Kerim. He’ll give you an honest take on what it means to build a successful solar business. If you consider yourself a solar entrepreneur, Kerim is your guy. I’m honored to be teaching with him.

Wait, why is Brian teaching this course With Kerim?

Fair question. I’m not qualified to teach advanced solar courses. Well, when I was getting my MBA I wanted to do two things:

  1. Start a company
  2. Work in renewable energy

Duncan and I wrote a hundred page business plan for a company that would integrate renewable energy systems. We planned to sell and manage projects, using a network of subcontractors. It was a good plan – we got an ‘A’ – but it probably would have failed as a business. We took a different path.

We couldn’t find good training for all the stuff we needed to learn, so we reached out to some of the top experts and started organizing our own. Fifteen years later that’s still what we do.

HeatSpring hasn’t made me rich. But I LOVE everything about entrepreneurship and running a company. It’s seriously the best.

Eight years ago I started teaching Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship. My course is called, “Finding Your Venture” and it helps smart people find a business to start that has the best chance of succeeding. I’ve learned so much about startups, myself, and teaching – many of my former students have started companies that are more successful than mine and so now they have a lot to teach me. 

Entrepreneurship means solving a problem that nobody asked you to solve. People think entrepreneurs are risk-takers, but it’s actually the opposite. They hate giving control of their lives to other people and want to bet on themselves instead.

I’m not qualified to teach solar courses and that’s why we have amazing instructors doing that. That’s why Kerim Baran is here to share his experiences building and selling CivicSolar. He sees and understand the dynamics of the solar industry in a way that I never will.

My role in this course is focus on the entrepreneurship part. I will cover some of the foundational concepts that you’ll need if this is the first time you’re doing a startup.

I’m going to share some of the tools and lessons from the course I’ve taught for the past eight years, but more importantly I’m going to listen to what you’re working on and maybe offer some suggestions. Sometimes you just need to talk out loud with somebody that’s not your spouse or friend and have them ask the obvious questions. That’ll be my role.

If you need solar expertise, then Kerim is your guy. If you need entrepreneurship advice – well actually, he’s really good at that too – but consider me a resource and know that I’m here to support you in wherever your entrepreneurial journey takes you.

About the Course

Every week Kerim will host office hours via Zoom. We’ll have guests drop in to talk about specific topics and have a discussion with anybody that wants to be there.

We expect to see a lot of electricians, contractors, and business owners who want to get into the solar industry. But we also expect to help a lot of solar folks who have never started a business before.

I’m making myself available for one-on-one calls to talk with anybody who is enrolled in the course.

Kerim and I can’t wait to get started. It’s going to be so fun.