It’s a New Dawn for solar power. In the U.S., cumulative solar installations have passed the 20 GW mark — and in the first half of 2015, 40% of all new electric generating capacity was from solar. Solar PV installations in the U.S. are expected to reach 7.7 GW this year.
What better way to celebrate than with a New Dawn for SfunCube, the world’s first solar startup incubatorand accelerator? And we’re not just talking about the name of their sold-out party last week, where they hosted over 400 guests near their Uptown Oakland digs.
SfunCube itself is also experiencing a New Dawn — complete with a new name, new branding, and a new website.
Between delectable tapas and the rocking rhythms of the 12-piece live band The Killa Watts, Emily Kirsch, CEO and Co-Founder of SfunCube, announced their new vision to enthusiastic partiers.
“Think back to when you first heard ‘SfunCube,’” she asked the audience. “What did you think?” She paused, then placed emphasis on her next question: “Could you say it?”
We can relate. Having gotten our start in SfunCube, we’ve been asked more than once if we worked in the S-Fun Cube, or Fun Cube. Kirsch has heard all possible iterations of the name.
She continued, “As we grow and scale to be the entrepreneurial leader in a solar power world, we need a name that people can say. So, I’m here to announce tonight that SfunCube is rebranding … from tonight forward, SfunCube will become Powerhouse.”
What’s in a name? Kirsh had a good answer to that:
“We wanted a name that could capture the power of the solar industry, we wanted a name that could capture the fact that solar will be a trillion dollar market in the years to come, we wanted a name that could convey the sense of community and home that we’ve created for solar startups.”
As Kirsch told PV Solar Report, “We are now Powerhouse because that’s what the solar industry is — a powerhouse — and that’s what our solar entrepreneurs are.”
In less than three years since it was founded, the incubator has indeed become a powerhouse. It’s grown from just two companies to house 20, representing 200 solar entrepreneurs. Powerhouse has seen two acquisitions of its startups, and companies incubated there have been awarded a number of SunShot and other U.S. Department of Energy grants.
And now it has also enjoyed a rousing, sold-out party at The New Parish — a suitably large offsite concert venue. The solar energy at the event was infectious (pun intended), as all things positive and solar went down for the over 400 solar partiers. The excitement at New Dawn reflected the excitement attendees clearly feel about the solar industry.
Party sponsors helped rev up the crowd, which Eric Danziger of Genability pointed out would have been much smaller just five years earlier. Back then, he noted, a solar party “would literally be our company and about five other people.” This is a testament to the growth of the solar industry, a theme that Marco Kraepels of SolarCity expanded on. “Which of you believe that energy will be the biggest shared economy on the planet in the next ten years?” he asked, continuing, ‘We all know that our transition to renewable energy is an inevitability … we need to make it happen fast … Help us do what we do even faster, better, cheaper.”
As usual, Danny Kennedy — best known as Co-Founder of Sungevity, and also Co-Founder of SfunCube, plus Managing Director of CalCEF — had fittingly inspiring words for the solar crowd. “Five years ago, when Emily and I first met,” he said, “California was at 12% renewably powered. It’s now at 25%…. We’ve only just begun. We saw it in 1999 with the dot-com deals. Companies like Google and Facebook had not even been founded yet…. And that wealth creation, that value creation for our society, that job creation cycle is just about to kick in with the solar industry.” He challenged the entrepreneurs in the room to give the early companies a run for their money, “as we go from 25 percent to 50, to 100 percent solar power.”
We couldn’t agree more. And we’re glad Powerhouse is there to foster the innovation they’ll bring to our industry — and to our world.