Going Solar in San Francisco
After meeting in Babson’s Blended Learning MBA program in San Francisco, Kyle Cherrick MBA’16 and Jeff Rodgers MBA’16 teamed up to create an innovative solar marketplace.
Kyle Cherrick MBA’16 was no stranger to entrepreneurship when he enrolled in Babson’s Blended Learning MBA program in San Francisco. By that time, he’d already worked on a team to grow, fund, and sell a solar company.
But, after seeing Nic Stover MBA’14 tweet about Babson’s campus in San Francisco and learning about the Blended Learning MBA program, Cherrick enrolled hoping to further explore and develop entrepreneurial opportunities in solar.
As a student, he attended an event sponsored by the Department of Energy in Oakland and shared a commercial solar market idea. After it garnered interest, Cherrick called Jeff Rodgers MBA’16, his Babson classmate, to develop the idea for the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Catalyst Innovation Prize. The idea won them a $25,000 prize and set their venture, Solar Merchant—now Pick My Solar—in motion.
Below, Cherrick shares the story of Pick My Solar and what’s in store in the future.
How did your original idea—Solar Merchant—become Pick My Solar?
Pick My Solar is an online marketplace for residential solar projects. We began working with them during the Catalyst process. They were receiving commercial project leads but not following up with them, staying focused on residential. They provided us with their leads and we collaborated about how to build our marketplace. We wanted to work on Solar Merchant full time, but were a long way from earning revenue, and viewed merging with Pick My Solar and raising funding together as more favorable than going it alone. So, after both of our teams won Catalyst, we agreed to team up and Pick My Solar acquired Solar Merchant in April 2016.
What Makes Pick My Solar Unique?
We’re using software to streamline the sales process; we are the main contact for solar customers throughout the entire process. The service is free to homeowners, and installers only pay if they win a project. Data shows that we’re saving the average homeowner over $4,000 on their solar system.
What’s in the future for Pick My Solar?
We’re now active in almost 30 states, and are laser focused on scaling this solution across the country. We’re ramping up our marketing efforts to build our brand into a nationally recognized and trusted source of energy advice—like a Kayak or Expedia for solar and energy storage solutions.
How did Babson help you get to where you are today?
I had the chance to test drive our pitch at Rocket Pitch Los Angeles. Jeff was able to pitch at Rocket Pitch San Francisco. Both were great pitching and networking experiences.
Additionally, one of our San Francisco professors, Phil Kim, introduced us to James Lancelot MBA’17, a fellow blended learning student. Lancelot works in online advertising and was an early employee at a company sold to Google’s DoubleClick division in 2010. He was looking to become more involved with clean-tech startups; after getting to know each other and due diligence, he led our follow-on angel funding round in April. We brought him on as a formal advisor for Pick My Solar.
You’ve accomplished a lot over the last few years. What are you most proud of?
The experience of completing the Babson Blended Learning MBA while working full time, and launching our company was quite an accomplishment for both of us. Credit to Babson for creating a program that encourages working professionals to continue challenging themselves. The entire program was well designed and intellectually stimulating.