Lynn Jurich & Ed Fenster: Selling Solar | Summary and Q&A

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March 5, 2014
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Lynn Jurich & Ed Fenster: Selling Solar

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Summary

In this video, Lynn Jurich, the CEO of Sunrun, talks about their business model of offering solar energy as a service to consumers. She shares how they eliminate the perceived expensive and complicated aspects of solar energy by installing the system on a homeowner's roof and then billing them for the electricity. Lynn also discusses the early days of Sunrun, the challenges they faced, and the determination and resilience required to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is Sunrun's business model?

Sunrun offers solar energy as a service to consumers. They install the solar system on a homeowner's roof and bill them for the electricity, making it cheaper and greener than traditional utility companies.

Q: How did Lynn Jurich and her classmate start Sunrun?

While at Stanford business school, Lynn's classmate approached her with the idea for Sunrun. They saw a huge market opportunity in the early phase of solar energy and decided to try bidding on a project. They initially ran the company from the attic of Lynn's house and pitched a big system project to British Telecom, which they didn't win. However, it made them realize the market potential and they pivoted to the consumer end market.

Q: What challenges did Sunrun face in the early days?

Sunrun experienced a frightening ride in the first couple of years. As they were closing their first project finance transaction in 2008, the global financial crisis hit. They had to raise capital amidst the market collapse and had to restart the business when the laws subsidizing solar changed at the end of 2008.

Q: How did Sunrun overcome the challenges and achieve growth?

Despite the challenges, Lynn and her team remained determined and resilient. They looked straight forward, didn't give up, and focused on getting things done. By January 2009, they had raised the capital to purchase residential solar facilities worth about two billion dollars.

Q: How has Sunrun's growth evolved over time?

Initially starting with 9 cents and four digits of monthly new origination, Sunrun has now raised capital to purchase about two billion dollars in residential solar facilities. The business itself hasn't changed much, but the number of zeros in their growth keeps increasing.

Q: What qualities and skills does Stanford business school teach entrepreneurs?

Stanford business school teaches analytical skills to assess a business, but also emphasizes optimism, resilience, and not giving up. It encourages students to pursue entrepreneurship instead of taking safe career paths like consulting or investment banking.

Q: What is common among successful entrepreneurs despite the challenges they face?

Successful entrepreneurs, including Lynn Jurich, share the quality of not giving up. They have moments where success seems impossible, but their determination and resilience drive them to keep going.

Q: How has Sunrun changed the future of energy in the US?

Sunrun's business model of offering solar energy as a service has made solar more accessible and affordable for consumers. By installing solar systems on rooftops, they contribute to green energy production and reduce dependence on traditional utility companies.

Q: How has Sunrun adapted to the changing solar energy landscape?

Sunrun adapted to the changing solar energy landscape by pivoting from the commercial market to the consumer market. They also had to restart the business when laws subsidizing solar changed at the end of 2008.

Q: What advice does Lynn Jurich have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Lynn advises aspiring entrepreneurs to not give up. She believes that resilience and determination are key to overcoming the challenges that come with starting and growing a business.

Takeaways

Lynn Jurich's journey with Sunrun highlights the importance of resilience and determination in entrepreneurship. Despite facing challenges and uncertainty, she and her team pushed forward, adapted to changing circumstances, and ultimately achieved significant growth. The success of Sunrun demonstrates the impact that innovative business models can have in changing industries, such as the future of energy.

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