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Podcast Transcript: Solar in Australia VS USA with Kerim Baran

Updated: Jul 7


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Dave: We're really happy to have Kerim Baran join us today. He's a longtime executive in the energy space, but also a great business mind. We're going to dive into a lot of different business topics, certainly talking around energy and the energy sector. But I think it's worth... First of all, welcome Kerim to the podcast.

Kerim Baran: Thank you, Dave. Happy to be here.

Dave: And Kerim and I should just be mentioned, [00:00:30] we've known each other for, I guess it's been about 10 years? Something like that?

Kerim Baran: Pretty much. Yeah, I would say just about.

Dave: At least by my part we're friends, but certainly have been work associates over that period of time as well.

Kerim Baran: That's right. I've met you guys very, very early on in your journey and had the pleasure to be on the sidelines watching your amazing progress the whole time.

Dave: Kerim is, of all of the executives that I've known over the years, he has a pretty interesting background, how he kind of ended up in energy. [00:01:00] At the end of the day, we're all users of energy, but Kerim is originally from Istanbul, Turkey. Would you say you're from the city generally speaking?

Kerim Baran: Yeah. Born and raised in the city. City of which used to be a 5 million people when I was a kid. Probably 18 closing over to 20 million people now. But yeah, it is-

Dave: You're kidding me.

Kerim Baran: ... definitely almost a quarter of the country lives in the greater Istanbul area, which is, I'd say probably the size of the Bay Area [00:01:30] right now.

Dave: A city that's that size, it must be that it doesn't have very well defined borders then if it can continue to grow like that.

Kerim Baran: Well, I guess the way you define cities in Istanbul is a little bit like we define states here. So every city has its core middle of town district, but then has a wider boundary, which is the size of a small state maybe in the US, a smaller number.

Dave: Maybe you can talk [00:02:00] a little bit about what your background was in Turkey. Obviously growing up in Turkey, you were just a great school, and how has that maybe shaped your path?

Kerim Baran: Absolutely. So, I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, actually. I would consider with a lot of opportunities and good education. And I guess in Turkey standards, [00:02:30] we would even qualify as upper class family, which in the US standards would be a more like a upper middle class. But definitely grew up around a lot of powerful people in Turkey. The schools that I went to, the people that my family and our friends mingled with, they were all very accomplished business leaders, political [00:03:00] leaders, and people of that sort. As a result, I had the opportunity to go to some of the best schools. The school that I went to in Turkey actually was a American school that is now older than 150 years old. It was one of the first... Probably it's the oldest American college that was started outside of the US.

So in the 1860s. By the time I was a kid in the seventies and eighties, it had a [00:03:30] middle school and a high school division as well. But it was kind of like the Indian IIT system, like just being a wealthy kid coming from the right families didn't get you in there. You have to actually take a national exam, kind like the SATs at the age of 10 to place into these kinds of schools. And there were a lot of international schools in the bigger cities in Turkey when I was growing up and there still are probably 50 or so such schools. So [00:04:00] many of the educated families and families that were kind of Western oriented wanted their kids to go to these international schools, kind of like American schools, French schools, German. And the education was bilingual. So that education path really kind of, I guess, opened up the opportunities even more to come to the US for education and [00:04:30] be involved in business not only in Turkey, but outside.

Dave: So bilingual, so at least from the age of 10, you were taking classes in English then even over in Turkey?

Kerim Baran: That's right. At the age of 10, I didn't speak a word of English, but when you get placed into these schools, you spend the first year just learning the second language. So if it's an American school, you learn English for a full year. German schools, you learn German and Italian schools, [00:05:00] you learn Italian kind of thing. And then we condensed the usual seven years of middle school and high school into six years in the school that I went to.

Dave: What was the family dynamic? So obviously your parents.

Kerim Baran: My mother was actually the true entrepreneur in the family that started the family business, which was a high fashion women's clothing business. In the eighties when Turkey was not even yet [00:05:30] a open economy, a lot of the upper class women wanted to dress in Western styles with well known brands, but it was illegal to import those in style like the Armanis and Versaces and Guccis in Turkey. And so my mom would travel to Rome and Paris go to fashion shows and she would come back with designs that they would produce in Turkey, or they [00:06:00] would modify and produce in Turkey. So growing up, a lot of the family dynamic was around family business, growing the business and managing it and so forth.

Dave: So, after you left Turkey, you went to school. So you had visited the United States, but really you went and you've told me in a different setting that you showed up with a suitcase at Northwestern, and that was the first time you'd ever seen the campus.

Kerim Baran: That's right.

Dave: So how did it happen that you left Turkey and decided ultimately to go to the school in the States?

Kerim Baran: [00:06:30] The school that I went to is called Robert College of Istanbul. Is a well known school because over the 150 years, it produced, I think, six or seven prime ministers in the country and many other successful leaders. And many of those people would continue their education abroad because it was where there's more knowledge and opportunity. And [00:07:00] so it was maybe at the time I graduated high school, about a quarter of my class, came to the US for college. And I would say half of those people got full scholarships. Now, this school accepted pretty much the first 100 or so people out of a class of million kids, literally. If you think about it, there's about a million kids at every age group in Turkey, was so when I was growing up [00:07:30] too, maybe a bit less.

And not everybody took the exam to get into these schools, but this school that I went to was known to be number one selected school. And many of those people were so bright that I went to school with that they got free rides into Harvard and Yale and Caltech and MIT, you name it. In that school, I was a pretty mediocre student, I'd say. I fluctuated [00:08:00] between the second, third and fourth quartile, depending on what year of the school I was in.

Dave: Well, regardless Northwestern, no slouch school. So maybe that was per your school.

Kerim Baran: Northwestern actually was easy. After having done my high school, that was a very easy experience, actually.

Dave: It's interesting, you talk about the school you attended starting in 1860, an international English speaking school. I grew up in Montana.

Kerim Baran: I know.

Dave: And I guarantee you, there's not [00:08:30] a school in Montana that's 150 years old. So an older school in Turkey it's...

Kerim Baran: Yeah.

Dave: Anyway. And I grew up dramatically different. Definitely not in an upper class family, right in the middle of a quarry.

Kerim Baran: I know. You guys grew up in a coal town if I remember correctly or coal town. Right?

Dave: Yeah. Yeah, I grew up in a coal mining town with power plants. So, a two gigawatt coal running power plant [00:09:00] was my backyard. And far less than half the people I graduated with went to college at all, let alone, went to college in the United States on scholarships. And in candor, I don't say that in any sort of negative way. I mean, many people pursued a very vocational path and have made a great living for themselves in Montana and are very happy to live in. In fact, fun fact is that people that are born in Montana are at least likely to leave Montana over [00:09:30] all other states. Part of it is it's geographically very large, but people that grow up there love it.

Kerim Baran: Which probably means they're one of the happiest.

Dave: I think that's true. I think there's a direct correlation there.

Kerim Baran: Yeah.

Dave: Awesome. So, you leave Turkey, you go to Northwestern, would you say fairly typical college experience?

Kerim Baran: Yeah. I loved my college experience. I was involved in many different things. I had good grades, I studied engineering. I liked my major. [00:10:00] I liked my friends. I joined a fraternity for a bit. I was kind of into it for a couple of years, but didn't really define my college experience. I was part of the sailing team, which was a great sports team and have many great memories from that. I loved Chicago and it opened doors to more things. After college, the option was to go back to Turkey, [00:10:30] Istanbul, get into the family business, which I definitely didn't want to do.

Dave: Still the fashion business?

Kerim Baran: Yeah. It was a bit more like at scale mass producing, high quality women's clothing mainly. And then my other options were to get the typical, banking consulting jobs that most well educated kids [00:11:00] chose to do. And I didn't really want that either. Or the other option was to stay in the US and get those kinds of jobs. I did apply to iBanking jobs and consulting jobs undergrad. Didn't really get it. And at the time, H-1B visas were not as common things. And they were a thing, but it was still an obstacle in getting jobs and many of the companies were not even that familiar with it. But I was lucky. I saw this one ad [00:11:30] on the career placement office of Northwestern. One day, I just went there and on this board, I saw this tiny little ad from a tiny little French software company saying they were opening up their US office in Chicago.

And they were looking for junior sales reps to join the company. And so that was my first job out of college. And I interviewed with them and I got hired as the first employee in the US. Or there was another [00:12:00] American guy actually, who later on became a big time executive in various different major software companies. But he was operating out of France, but hiring for the US office. And anyway, so I got the job and it was a great experience. We were selling IT software back then. This is early nineties, early to mid nineties. We were selling these pieces of software which fit in a single floppy disc, three and a quarter inch [00:12:30] floppies that we sold for $3,000. And the way we sold them, there was no internet, but nobody was really using it. We would advertise in trade magazines, go to trade shows, ship out demo diskettes to these customers.

And they would use the demo diskette which did not have the same function. So they would play around with the software, get its capabilities and then call us to order it. And we would answer all the technical questions. It was a great experience because [00:13:00] being a software company, we had designed our own CRM system at the time. So every other CRM system that came after that, all the Siebel System where I worked and sales forces [inaudible 00:13:11], they set standard for me. Our CRM system that we used in that company was amazing and we could track the whole funnel and everything. It was a great experience. And so I helped grow that business from two people, basically in Chicago to about 20 [00:13:30] as-

Dave: And that was over what period of time? Over how long did you-?

Kerim Baran: Over two years, we grew pretty fast and we were competing with various different computerated software engineering tools, they were called. Basically like database design, data modeling tools that helped you build databases faster, with better code and more better documentation. Oracle had a little product that competed with ours, and there were a handful of other competitors. But we grew fast enough that [00:14:00] Sybase, which at the time was Oracle's number one competitor, decided to buy us two years after. And that was an amazing story, unique story that essentially helped me get into business school.

Dave: It's interesting that this French company would've chosen Northwestern to post on a job board. I guess maybe they'd thrown a wide net, but-

Kerim Baran: Actually they had a strategy. They didn't want to go to New York or the West Coast for two main reasons. One, they were more expensive. [00:14:30] Chicago was less expensive. And two, they thought that whoever they hired there would jump ship after a year or two and move on to other better jobs and that it would be harder to retain employees. And that the Midwest would be kind of like your Montana people. Jobs is not the number one priority. It is a priority, but it is not the number one priority. And they would be more grounded, stable [00:15:00] people. And that was their thinking.

Dave: Sure. It's interesting. So two years, and obviously, spoiling the story a little bit, you found your way into business school at Harvard. Was that right after the sale of the business or?

Kerim Baran: It was a year after.

Dave: Okay. So did you stay on at post transaction with the software company?

Kerim Baran: Yeah. And one of the probably most useful things I did there was, I helped train every single sales [00:15:30] office of Sybase on our product for a year. Which multiplied our revenue by, I don't know, probably 10 times or 20 times within a year. And then, the funny thing is, last I heard, which was a few years ago, that that product line is still in business. Now it's an SAP portfolio product. SAP bought through some acquisitions. And it's still making the same level of revenue, which is like [00:16:00] 10 times what it was when we sold it or 10 to 20 times what it was when we sold it.

Dave: That's incredible.

Kerim Baran: So it's been an amazingly profitable acquisition for the acquirers.

Dave: Find another software product that has that sort of longevity. I dare you.

Kerim Baran: Well, right now, Salesforce is kind of that dominant player, I guess that uses. But we'll see how all that-

Dave: Awesome. So then you go to business school, trying to figure [00:16:30] out... A lot of people that go to business school just because they feel like that's the next step in their evolution. Did you have your path mapped out, at least in your mind of what business school was going to do for you?

Kerim Baran: No, I didn't at the time. I was kind of still just fulfilling expectations of society at the time. And in fact, after business school still fulfilling those expectations. One of the ways to keep [00:17:00] those options open and fulfill some of expectations was to go back to Turkey, taking a job with Bain & Company. And Bain at the time was opening their first satellite office in Istanbul, out of their Italian operation. So I worked in Italy during the summer of my, between first and second year and then helped launch the office in Istanbul with Bain.

Dave: And that was on the consulting side for Bain?

Kerim Baran: Yeah. Some strategy consulting work. And I did [00:17:30] that for about a year and that was also a little bit to appease my parents that after having been in the US for nine years, undergrad, some work experience in grad school that I would go back. And I did that. That was a great experience. But at the time, the dot com movement was also happening. And I had been in the tech world and a lot of my classmates from Harvard were paper millionaires in Silicon Valley. And I was like, "You know what? I think I want to be in the tech world." And [00:18:00] so packed up and Bay Area two weekends back to back without telling my parents. Got four different offers and then took one with Siebel Systems and moved to San Francisco. And that's-

Dave: So worked again for another software company, large software company, Siebel Systems?

Kerim Baran: Yeah.

Dave: And were you with them through their acquisition as well? How long were you with Siebel Systems?

Kerim Baran: I was there until I got my green [00:18:30] card basically, which was about three years. Well, about two to three years. I got my green card at the two year mark. But I had an obligation to stay another year. So, about three years. That was an amazing experience actually. Siebel had very much the Oracle culture because Tom Siebel had created the original [00:19:00] Oracle's internal CRM system for Larry Ellison and team when he was there. And he was an early Oracle employee. And these guys, they're as aggressive as a Harvard Business School culture kind of people. Take no prisoners, kind of like Oracle culture is well known for its unique and win at all cost kind [00:19:30] of attributes. And Siebel was similar, very driven, very execution focused, all about business.

And Tom Siebel had, at the time when he built that CRM system for Oracle wanted to commercialize it to Oracle's customers. And Larry Ellison hadn't allowed that because he thought at the time that was a competitive advantage that they should keep in-house. Fast forward, a couple other careers later, Tom Siebel [00:20:00] decided to create that product himself and he was doing a great job. And I thought, what a great opportunity to experience a fast growing large software company from inside with that kind of culture. Even though I wouldn't say my personal culture fits that too well, it was kind of fun to be in it and observe it at the time and be part of it. I learned a lot and I was responsible for managing one of the strategic relationships [00:20:30] with Deloitte Consulting and Siebel, which was a big chunk of the business. And seeing those 10, $25 million software deals happen with big companies, big customers, big implementation projects, and seeing how all that was done and the impact these CRM platforms brought to those businesses was also quite interesting to watch.

Dave: So you got blue chip education, blue chip consulting [00:21:00] experience, and then blue chip software company. So when did you decide, "All right, it's time to do this on my own now and go try my entrepreneurial legs out."?

Kerim Baran: One thing I did right after I got my green card and then I quit my job. And in a way that was my risky move, not so risky for a guy with all that opportunity and education necessarily, but I [00:21:30] have a lot of classmates who are still in that track and they get their self worth from competing in that single track lifestyle. For me, it was like, "You know what? I'm not enjoying this. I got to do something more creative, more that's part of me, more that I want to do." And I didn't even know what that was necessarily, but without knowing, I quit basically. Once I got my green card in hand, [00:22:00] which was kind of my like world citizenship in a way, so that I could eventually get my American citizenship and travel the world with some other passport than a Turkish passport, because a Turkish passport is not really a passport. It's more like a stop port, I call it. Because you get stopped at every port and asked for visas and whatnot.

So that was kind of like my passage to becoming a free world citizen. [00:22:30] And after that, I decided to go travel the world. I put on a backpack and went to Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, and motorcycled Vietnam top to bottom.

Dave: Was that to the chagrin of your overly ambitious and entrepreneurial mother, or was she glad that you were exploring your boundaries or something?

Kerim Baran: [00:23:00] I would say she was definitely a little bit scared and definitely not approving of it, but just got to do what you got to do. And which opened up a lot of other doors because, the idea of creating a social network actually came to me when I was in a internet cafe in Nepal, sharing my little digital pictures that I took with my, at the time, $150 digital camera on oPHOTO with my friends. I was like, "This is so [00:23:30] powerful. I could be climbing the Himalayas in the morning and sharing the pictures with my friends in the afternoon." And that empty space you get when you create that space is nice to get your creative juices flowing and figure out what you really want to do rather than just compete in that track that society seemingly draws for, for most people.

Dave: [00:24:00] So I had known that you had worked at Siebel and I'd known that you'd gone to Harvard. I'm picking up some extra pieces of the story I didn't know about you.

Kerim Baran: You definitely didn't know about my mother.

Dave: Yeah. I didn't know about your mother either. But the Genesis moment of, and I think one of your biggest early successes with your social networks. So, maybe you can walk us through... You kind of told us the Genesis moment in Nepal, but can you walk us through what it took to build that business?

Kerim Baran: So [00:24:30] that trip actually, I had planned that trip to be a year and then lessened it to six months because, by the time I was two months into it, I was like, "You know what? These are my young productive years. I have too many thoughts and too many things to do." It's great to go backpacking, but I'm a little bit more of a doer than just a full-time wanderer. So after two months or so, I was constantly thinking, "Okay, what are the things [00:25:00] that I want to do when I go back?" And at the time, there were a few different business models that I was observing and enjoying learning more about. I wanted to do something with software because I'd been in that world, even though I studied engineering, I was never a pure coder. Even though I scored really well in my engineering and coding classes, I never worked as a coder.

I found [00:25:30] it a little too boring. But I wanted to create my own product. And so when I got back from that trip, I noticed a lot of the early social networks. And I just started hanging out with the right people in Silicon Valley who were making those things happen. And then in one of the conversations, I realized that Friendster was growing 2% a day. If you compound that, that is some amazing growth. And I'm like, "Wow. Okay, so we got [00:26:00] to do something like this. And so what does the world need?" And at the time, my idea was, why don't we create another Friendster like platform that serves the world in their own languages? So I picked the five major European languages, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and then started inviting... Well, we built this simple prototype, which took a few months and then started inviting some friends. [00:26:30] And before we could even localize it to those other languages, a lot of my Turkish friends with the English only UI started using the platform like crazy. And it started growing virally just like-

Dave: What year was that, Kerim?

Kerim Baran: That was in 2003. Q4 of 2003 is when we launched. A few months before Facebook actually.

Dave: I guess, I always assumed that you had started and [00:27:00] we're talking about Yonja now, which is the business that you're talking about. I always had assumed that you had started that business because of the massive growth that it had, that you started it in Turkey. I didn't realize that you were running that business from the Bay Area.

Kerim Baran: I did. I came back to the Bay Area and I started it out of my one bedroom apartment in San Francisco on a high speed DSL line with a big server that we built in my living room. And on the living room, I had [00:27:30] the whole page flows and wire frames of at the time, five or six different social networking websites. And I liked the Friendster one was definitely the best, in my opinion. We even diminished it to last... They were like 40 pages total. We diminished it to 26 pages and just launched it as a MVP.

Dave: And so it-

Kerim Baran: And it just hit. It hit. [00:28:00] It actually took my brother's help to make it hit. And also, he was very instrumental. My brother, he studied economics, he went to UPenn and he was a lot more geeky than me growing up, but for some reason, he studied economics. And after school, he worked as a coder or he worked in IT. And he's a great hacker [00:28:30] and he would find all the great holes. And when you're launching that kind of platform with thousands of users, especially in your early months, you get all sorts of hackers trying to bring the system down. And he would find all the holes, close them up. And he was also quite helpful in launching the platform because at the time, I wasn't married, but I had a girlfriend for many years. So I wasn't necessarily in the market to date or anything. But he was younger than me and he had a lot of young, [00:29:00] single male and female friends. And of course, bringing in the females, made the platform really take off at the time.

Dave: And I don't think you intended it to be, it sounds like, to be a specifically a Turkish social network, but ultimately that's where it really took off and found most success. Is that right?

Kerim Baran: That is right. Yeah.

Dave: And how long did you run Yonja before it was ultimately acquired? Before you sold it?

Kerim Baran: So from 2002-2- [00:29:30] 4 to 2007, so five years. And basically for most of 2006 and 2007, we were the most trafficked Turkish website. We had basically become kind of like the.. Earlier on, we were more like Friendster, but as MySpace took over Friendster, we kind of morphed our platform to be more like MySpace too. And so I would say [00:30:00] it's fair to call it, for a while, we were like the MySpace of the Turkish market. A number of companies wanted to acquire us along the way when the valuation... And at the time, this is still the early days of social networking, early days of internet, 2007 in Turkey. The evaluations were nothing like evaluations right now.

[00:30:30] But when we got the right offer, we sold the company or we sold our majority stakes, kept a bit of it and kept going. But at the time, the international or the main US players, especially Facebook, but even other ones were making inroads into the Turkish market. So the language difference wasn't that big a deal and Facebook was [00:31:00] just about starting localizing their UI and many others. And we had a Turkish and a English UI, but we started with an English only UI and still made it there. So it wasn't necessarily the UI language that mattered, it was the community. But somehow, Facebook took over.

And the reason they did, from the get go, they had a pretty good product. And they did, I think a few things really well. [00:31:30] One is they kept everybody's real identities intact for most of the life with the product. And they also had really good privacy features so that you could protect a big chunk of your profile page from people who were not in your direct circle. And then of course, their F8 platform made a big difference too. And so, none of these had necessarily [00:32:00] happened when we sold it, but we could kind of see that they were going to eventually give us a hard time. And we got [inaudible 00:32:07]

Dave: So it was a good time to get out when you got out?

Kerim Baran: Looking back, yeah. And of course, sometimes selling a company is like losing your baby. And there were days I regret it, but looking back, I think it was a good experience and I don't think we could have beaten the Facebook team, [00:32:30] which was an exceptional-

Dave: It was a task at hand. I mean, that's the way those social networks that usually work. Right? [inaudible 00:32:38].

Kerim Baran: And the nature of the beast in that business is, the dominant network takes 80% of the market, if not more. So it was good while we were in that position in a kind of a protected market, but then eventually it wasn't. Which happened within the few years after [00:33:00] we sold Yonja.

Dave: So that's 2007 and maybe we can start making our way into... It is after all an energy podcast, maybe we can make our way a little bit into, how did you start transitioning away from... Well, at the end of day, it's still business, but how did you make your way into focusing on renewables the way that you have over the last decade or so or more?

Kerim Baran: So I stayed with the business for another two years, by the way.

Dave: You did?

Kerim Baran: And transitioned it to [00:33:30] a amazing fellow with the name of Dilawar Syed, who was a Pakistani American with a similar background to mine actually. Came to the US as an immigrant student, worked at many big reputable companies. So we hired him as our new CEO and then over two years transitioned out. And then I was thinking, "Okay. Thanks to this experience, I've made more money than I would in a [00:34:00] traditional career in a lifetime. So what do I want to do?" And my Harvard training and the mindset of most of those kinds of people would say, "Okay, now you've got to invest this and grow it." And I would sit down to basically create an investment portfolio and do analysis and all that.

But after a couple of hours of work every day, I'd feel really uneasy. And then I'd be like, "Okay, this is probably not what I'm supposed [00:34:30] to do." Granted, I still did that. And I created a personal portfolio, which has performed amazingly well over the last decade plus, probably averaging over 24% IRR. But I would sit quietly and just listen to myself. Like, what am I supposed to do? And then always the thoughts that came up were education, healthcare, and cleantech and startups. So, [00:35:00] I'm like, "Okay. So I got to help these kinds of startups." And I had funds and a nest egg of capital, but I couldn't go and invest that into hundreds of startups. That would not be responsible. And didn't really enjoy the VC game that much, sitting on the sidelines and acting at the board meetings like I know what I'm doing when I really know, I don't, because I know as a founder that [00:35:30] only the founders know the business and not so much the other board members.

But I just started making small angel investments into the companies and to the founders that I liked and the companies that resonated with me. And then I started looking at other opportunities. And actually, one of the things that happened just around that time is a co-founder at CivicSolar, the company that I worked at for 10 years, [00:36:00] Michael Goldberg, who was a close friend of a very good friend of mine from college and a former partner of his actually. He had the vision for CivicSolar and he came to me and asked me if I would be an equal partner. So it started with him and one other fellow, Michael Paler, who was our CTO platform creator partner.

And I said, "Yes, let's do it." So I helped to raise our first [00:36:30] chunk of capital for that. And we pulled up our sleeves and got to work and created CivicSolar, which became, I would say one of the leading web enabled solar distribution companies for the industry. Something that I'm equally proud of, if not more as having helped create as Yonja. The cool aspect of CivicSolar was, it was three partners, not one. So in many ways, [00:37:00] not all the responsibility was on my shoulders. In fact, I would say it was mostly Michael's creation and vision and soul that created that company, that's Michael Goldberg, Michael Goldie. And we did an amazing service to the industry. We educated thousands of independent contractors, electricians, HVAC contractors, roofers, to get into the trade of putting together solar systems. [00:37:30] And we created an amazing website with good information, data sheets, technical details on thousands of skews of products. And then we supplemented that with a really good VAR, value-added reseller services, or mainly amazing salespeople or account managers and the most of-

Dave: And I don't want to miscategorize it, but I think I've heard you describe it as really CivicSolar [00:38:00] did a huge service to the long tail in solar. So was that-

Kerim Baran: Yeah, I would say that.

Dave: I think we hear about this long tail pretty often, but maybe if you would want to talk about just what is the long tail of solar and what are the unique struggles that they have that CivicSolar was able to come in and be a value-added reseller, because at the end of the day, what you were is a distributor. You were selling something that was supposed to becoming commodity. But those-

Kerim Baran: Right. But as we know, it's still not a commodity.

Dave: [00:38:30] Right. And there's complications associated with solar that are unique to the industry and maybe you can talk about that a little bit. I think it'd be really useful to people that are listening to this to understand really what is the long tail that everyone references and why is it that CivicSolar played such a [inaudible 00:38:48]?

Kerim Baran: Well, the long tail is really, really long and most people are not even aware of how much longer it's going to get because there are over 1 million electricians in the US [00:39:00] and over 100,000 electrical contracting businesses.

Dave: Is that right?

Kerim Baran: Yeah. There are 50 to 60,000 HVAC contractors in the US. 100,000 electrical contractors. Close to 50,000 roofing contractors. And active solar installer number, depending on who you ask, has been five to 10,000, maybe a little bit more than 10,000 these days.

Dave: Yeah. That's the number I hear.

Kerim Baran: Yeah. But essentially, every one of those electricians [00:39:30] is qualified to become a solar installer, they're just not aware of it. They just need a little bit of handholding to put together their first system. They need to understand that there's three main components, the panels, the inverter, and the racking. You got to put them together somehow and wire them up. And as long as there's net metering in your utility district, you got yourself real [00:40:00] electric bills hopefully going forward. And a lot of our early customers and a lot of our customers started their solar careers by first doing their own home or their neighbor's home or some building that they were associated with. And they're usually-

Dave: It was one of those things where I'm an electrician, someone asking you about solar, what's next? So call CivicSolar.

Kerim Baran: Yeah. And it wasn't called CivicSolar. It was like Google these questions [00:40:30] and when they came to our website and because all three of our co-founders Goldie, me and Paler, we were internet entrepreneurs prior to creating CivicSolar. So we kind of knew the Google SEO game back 12 years ago. We didn't really do too much SEO necessarily, but just the fact that we put good information out there and that's just how the internet works these days on how [00:41:00] most of life works actually, givers games. So when you put good information out there, you get the phone calls. And that's kind how we started. And within a few months, we were getting hundreds of phone calls into our 800 number just because we created a website. And we were doing a little bit of Google AdWords type advertising in the early days, which we later stopped.

But our [00:41:30] customer acquisition cost was close to zero at CivicSolar. The harder challenge was to hold onto those customers after the first year or two, because they would be loyal for a while because we helped them up so much with good information they would continue buying from. But when they got to a certain stage and got into a certain process of buying, then every cent would matter more. And then especially the ones that were more organized and built a sales team around their [00:42:00] service, then they would shift away to companies like CED and the bigger distributors that could deliver that product, same day, same price or better price.

Dave: I think I maybe didn't give CivicSolar credit for, it's not just that you serviced the long tail as much as you were helping to create it. Right? I mean, people that were electrical contractors that wanted to do their first project, but needed probably some handholding through that process [00:42:30] and parlayed that into either a full transition into solar or at least adding it to their existing line of business.

Kerim Baran: Many of our customers did 10 projects a year, one a month. And they continued their electrical contracting job and they did a solar on the side too. There were many customers like that, but then there were also good solar installers that would do 20, 30, 40 jobs [00:43:00] a month as well.

Dave: So this is probably a good time. So one of the things when we talked about, before the podcast, things that I think are interesting, both for the listeners, but also things that we're really interested in is why so many other countries seemingly are doing solar better than we are. What are the friction points that you were seeing this long tail and all solar providers that they're experiencing that maybe are unique to the US market?

Kerim Baran: [00:43:30] There was a period when I was at CivicSolar, for a couple of years, we actually developed utility scale solar projects in Ontario in Canada, because we wanted to understand the world from a developer's perspective. So I kind of led the charge on that. And we went and partnered with an early stage developer and we built a few less than megawatt size utility [00:44:00] scale projects. And that time I got to observe the Ontario market a little bit. At the time, there were 80 cents feed-in tariffs for residential solar in Ontario. And the utility scale was 40 cents, 45 cents.

Dave: Not taking anything for granted, feed-in tariff, if you want to talk about what that is.

Kerim Baran: So, feed-in tariff is when the utility company directly pays you cash for the power that you produce. Instead of giving you [00:44:30] credit through a net metering program, giving you hopefully full priced retail credit, which is what most utilities start off as when they launch their net metering program. This is actually giving you cash for even your overproduction if you do that. And it's a much simpler way to communicate the value prop in a way. And I understand that's what's going on in [00:45:00] Australia too, which has 30% market penetration and probably one third the cost of RES Solar compared to the US. That's probably one thing. The other is, I would say, if there's one dominant utility company in that region that promotes it from top down, then the sales and marketing costs are not needed as much. And as we know, in solar, [00:45:30] in the US, sales and marketing is probably a third of the cost, more or less.

Dave: So lots of things we can unpack there. So the first one is, this is obviously certain-

Kerim Baran: And in permitting too. If the utility company and the jurisdiction, whatever... If the permitting is simple, that takes off so much friction. And then it becomes more of, I guess the word of mouth would even increase with that. So [00:46:00] that would just bring the cost down by 50%. Now, the question is though, do you want a single top down solution to be pushed? Because I'm not so sure about that. To me, what makes America special is that power structure in many ways, I mean, political power and physical energy power industry infrastructure, everything is fragmented in the US. We don't have a king on top or a queen [00:46:30] that pushes down solutions or pushes down policies. 50 states is like 50 laboratories of policy. And couple thousand utility companies each with their laws.

And of course, it's not like Australia, where they all have 30% solar penetration, and most of them are still slowly opening up to solar if at all. But eventually, there will [00:47:00] be, in my opinion, probably 50% or more of the homes will have solar in the US. And that's 50 million plus homes. And utility companies will still be around. And there will be also many, many solar plus battery type microgrid power producing, distributed energy resources. Probably most of which will not be owned by the utility company, but will be owned by local investors and real estate owners. [00:47:30] And the power and the energy infrastructure ownership will resemble more the residential and commercial ownership structure of real estate than highly concentrated clumps of power, which grow around in the Middle East. And also, the traditional power markets are like that too. So I think the move is towards that and that's going to happen. And I think the best [00:48:00] solutions for that will come out of the US. No doubt.

Dave: So backing up a little bit. So during your time at CivicSolar, CivicSolar was a distributor, but you guys did a lot more than what you'd think of for just traditional distributor. It wasn't a Home Depot where people would come in and buy stuff off of a rack. You guys were providing a caded system on a more complicated solution. But also provided other enhanced services. Like I know at one point you guys were doing engineering and CAD design [00:48:30] for some of these people as well and helping them with the permitting process.

Kerim Baran: Yeah. One of the other key people we had on the team was Stuart Fox, who was a many, many solar veteran. And he would pretty much overlook all engineering services that went out to our customers. But yeah, we could help with the engineering needs of our customers.

Dave: In addition though to running CivicSolar, did you do it under CivicSolar? I don't know if you did it as something separate to CivicSolar, but you started being a developer [00:49:00] as well, or at least partnering on developments where you were doing large solar builds, you said in Ontario. Places that had really favorable feed-in tariffs, were programs that were paying up to 80 cents per kilowatt-hour, for the power that were generated from the systems, which the return on investment would be incredible, obviously for those.

Kerim Baran: Yeah. We did that for a few years and we did that as a parallel track to [00:49:30] just increase our learning really more than anything. We considered maybe turning that into a division, but it was challenging for various reasons. That was a one time good opportunity in Ontario. The US market was way more competitive and there were much better, bigger established players if we wanted to continue that in the US. And it wasn't really core of what we did and trying to build that in the same company, would've been a challenge.

Dave: [00:50:00] One of the problems Kerim, is when you bring a guy on a podcast that you're pretty friendly with is you get talking about things that you're interested in and you get talking for a long time. But there are a handful of things given your sort of industry expertise that we certainly have to dive into for the little bit of time that I have you. And you kind of teased a little bit, some of the different dynamics that exist in Australia, specifically as an analog compared to the United States in terms of the residential cost structure. And [00:50:30] so I think it's worth talking about, and you obviously saw this in CivicSolar, but in the United States, we have... If you live in a certain market, let's just say, Bay Area, California, you might feel like energy is very regulated and there's like one energy source, it's a monopoly.

And you'd be right for that single household. But across the country, there are so many utilities across the country. There are some markets that are completely regulated and some that are deregulated, but still with regulations [00:51:00] on them. Juxtaposing, Texas against California, for example, where they're California, you've got huge utilities. But even in those areas where you have those larger utilities and state legislative programs for energy, you still have all of the local authorities. And I'll share with you an early days anecdote. We were installing a system, one of our first systems actually in the Bay Area. And we had submitted a plan to the... It was actually [00:51:30] county jurisdiction at that time to be able to build our solar. And the permitting process by itself at the time was about a four week process. And the permit ultimately was rejected because the person that was reviewing the plan wanted a single line diagram for the Enphase micro-inverter that we were going to be using. So he could analyze whether or not the inverter would work.

Kerim Baran: That's the communist elements of the California regime for you.

Dave: And it took us probably [00:52:00] a month of going back and forth with early days, Enphase, the juggernaut in our industry, trying to get them to provide some version of a wet stamped engineered plan for their inverter that we could submit to this-

Kerim Baran: That reminds me of my experience when I was moving back to Silicon Valley from Turkey and I had to go in person to the Turkish telecom office to disconnect [00:52:30] my telephone line in Turkey, in Istanbul. And then they sent me to get some stamped paper. And I'm like, "Guys, I'm trying... And my customer, but I don't need it."

Dave: But early on when we were starting to sell solar and we were getting into the solar space, Will, the CEO at Complete Solar, co-founder over here. He and I were looking at each other thinking, is this what it's going to be like on every [00:53:00] project? Are we going to have to take these products that are UL listed products and go to the CEOs of these companies and say, "Hey, I need wet stamped, single line diagram, full engineered plan sets for all of your products to submit to city checkers." And obviously, it hasn't been that extreme, but anyone that's been in the solar space knows that there's been a whole lot of jumping through hoops over the years. And every time we expand into...

Kerim Baran: New market.

Dave: Every [00:53:30] time we expand into a new market, it's like you're starting over and-

Kerim Baran: Right. The one thing I heard about the Australian market, I don't know how true it is, that you don't even require any permits to put solar on your home. They don't require that. Imagine how easy that would be. But, of course, there are concerns of safety and whatnot, but there's got to be a better way to fix that problem. And I think Birchy's new company, Andrew Birch, former founder [00:54:00] CEO of Sungevity, his new app, OpenSolar might be helping that out, I hear. But, all those permit issues, a hurdle, definitely.

Dave: Some of these other larger solar organizations in real have been trying for a while to come up with a standardized way to pull permits across the country. Like an online [00:54:30] mechanism that essentially any office, because let's be honest, it's onerous on the cities as well to check the plans and the way that they do it.

Kerim Baran: Of course.

Dave: So if there was some sort of a standardized mechanism to be able to submit a plan set, to get it approved, to make it more streamlined for the city and more streamlined for the contractor and more streamlined for the homeowner, it's a better way to do it.

Kerim Baran: Yeah, absolutely. It is sad and ridiculous at the same time that Australia has as [00:55:00] a percentage, 10 times more solar than we do here. And at one third the cost. It's unbelievable.

Dave: Yeah. And at the federal level in Australia, obviously there's been a lot of really positive tailwinds where they're pushing solar forward. But, at the local level, it's frictionless. It's really easy to install solar there and it brings the costs down significantly.

Kerim Baran: And that's what you guys are really good at, holding those friction issues [00:55:30] at scale.

Dave: Yeah, that has been one of our specialties for sure over the years is trying to provide a consistent experience, whether you're getting installed in Miami, Florida, or Bay Area, California. And understanding the utility programs that exist in each market from a federal and local level certainly has been an area of emphasis for us in our business to say the least. So maybe part of this as well is [00:56:00] that, it's interesting, we talked about the software company you were involved with and how they stayed relevant for all of these years. And others have tried to do the same thing, but if you're in the software industry, you're certainly fighting obsolescence every year. It's one of those things where technology changes and people try to apply the same logic to solar from an obsolescence perspective as well.

And usually, they're not thinking about it the right way, frankly. Solar panels that are sitting out in the desert for 30 years, [00:56:30] cranking out electricity, the output is the same from an efficiency per square inch perspective, obviously you get more efficient modules, but the science of it is the same. But one thing that is interesting to talk about, and it's one of the things that in our pre notes, as we were talking about this thing, is this idea of Swanson's law and referring obviously to the former founder of SunPower, Richard Swanson who published a paper on this. But something I think I'd [00:57:00] love to get your take on that and what that means for solar. You've already gone on record to saying 50 million households. And how does that play a role in that do you think in terms of getting it set?

Kerim Baran: I think we'll get there in a decade or two for sure. And I say that with 99% confidence, because I look at the past 40 years of track record. And that's something that I also did before getting into this business too and [00:57:30] those same trends continued for the last decade. Which was the fact that solar panel costs have come down on average 20% a year compared to 10 years ago or 12 years ago, when I got in the business, panels were five to six times more expensive. Now, full system cost was not five to six because full system is not at panel only, there's some labor, there's other components. But overall, the cost of installed [00:58:00] solar systems are coming down pretty rapidly. I would say 10% a year or so. Yeah, some years it goes up, but generally the cost come down. And you take that forward for a decade or two.

And the cost of electricity traditionally has gone up about 4% a year. So that's like a 14% improvement, 10 on the denominator, reduction on the denominator, 4% increase on the numerator. That's like a 14, 15% improvement on [00:58:30] your ROI formula every single year. So, if you are a investor... And by the way, a single solar panel probably today in the US produces half of its cost in electricity every single year. If you just lay down a single panel and 1500 kilowatt-hours of production happen for every kilowatt that panel has, you're going to get whatever the electric cost. On a 50 [00:59:00] cent asset, you're going to get probably 20 to 30 cents of electricity produced by that asset every single year. And that's of course, just the panel. When you add the other cost, that 50% yield goes down to maybe 10 or 15 or 20%, depending on your local market price.

The solar resource doesn't really matter that much. Most people think it does, but it does not. So, that's an amazing formula. Even if you're at 15% [00:59:30] cash on cash yield, and that is increasing to the order of 10 to 15%, every year, in five years, it's going to double. In another five years, it's going to double again. So that 15% yield is going to be 60% yield. You're going to have a solar system produce 60% of its... Which by the way, in a market like Australia, you already are there because they're three times cheaper than us. So the potential of this amazing resource and the asset class is [01:00:00] absolutely under appreciated by the common investor folk. And they will become more aware and conscious of that over the next decade.

And when I say that, I'm not talking about the Wall Street types, I'm talking about the guys who own the local commercial real estate, or even smart people who own their homes and do their investing and think [01:00:30] from an investor's perspective. They're going to appreciate the value of this clean power generating asset class. And that's going to create a million nodes of distributed energy resources around the country, I think. I think it's very, very likely that we might have a million dollar microgrids combination of solar container size batteries with 100 to 200, maybe 500 KW [01:01:00] solar fields next to them, all connected to the homes that also have their own panels and batteries and utility companies [inaudible 01:01:09].

Dave: You know, I talk to people outside of the energy space, people that think about their electrics to bill. They always have thought about their electrics to bill. It's pretty easy for me to get excited about what the world might look like in just a handful of years. These are things that could happen quickly, not things that have to take a really long [01:01:30] time if you're talking about these microgrids, these types of things. And I think that they're going to come a lot faster than most people believe. One of the things that Complete Solar really specializes in is, we work with different types of partners. So you talked about that long tail, all these HVAC partners, home security partners, anyone that's doing home automation, anyone that has a relationship with a customer.

And one of the things that we've really focused on is being able to bring those people into the market. It seems like that [01:02:00] people currently that are going solar require some sort of a trusted advisor relationship with whomever it is that's working with them. And so you take a look at all these electricians, these HVAC contractors, these people that have existing relationships with the homeowners and what they have, and they don't realize is a network of homeowners that are genuinely interested in trying to transform the way that they purchased energy. There was a Pew Research study that was done, not that long ago, actually. And I've seen this number debated a little bit, [01:02:30] but they represented that the market was at about 6% penetration for the residential solar market.

That by itself is kind of a whatever stat. The stat that was fascinating to me was is that in that same research study, they said that 46% of homeowners were interested in going solar. So you have this like 50% of people that want to do something. And our messaging to all of these HVC contractors and other contractors that work with anyone on the residential side is, "Look, [01:03:00] your customers are going to go solar. They're either going to do it with you, or they're going to do it with somebody else. But you're uniquely positioned by virtue of your trusted advisor relationship to be able to help usher them through the process of transforming the way that they purchase energy from a bad way to a better way."

And we've talked a lot about the financial benefits, but not to be understated. And one of the reasons that certainly I am passionate about the industry is, it's also happens to be a good thing. [01:03:30] There are lots of things that purport or claim to have some sort of environmental benefit, but solar really does, and renewable energy generally, but solar has the added benefit of actually being very good. We could spend an entire podcast or two talking about those things as well.

Kerim Baran: I think the climate benefit definitely of course, is attractive, but the other benefit of solar, which is as exciting to me is the fact that you own your own power [01:04:00] plant essentially.

Dave: Yeah. The energy independence space.

Kerim Baran: You own your own power. You own the capability to produce your own power. And when that's coupled with batteries, and I think the same trend that happened to panels in cost is happening to the batteries too. So there will come a time pretty soon in the next, probably six to 12 years that solar plus battery will be cost of competitive with all forms of other energy. That would be a gamer changer.

Dave: Yes, that term great parody that you hear a lot.

Kerim Baran: [01:04:30] Yeah. And then there's another term, God parody, have you heard of that one?

Dave: I haven't.

Kerim Baran: Stanford lecturer, Tony Seba talks about God parody. He says, half the cost of electricity is production. And the other half is distribution and the transmission maintenance of the lines. But there will come a time, he says, when the battery cost plus solar, solar plus battery produced, imagine 100% off grid operation produced electricity [01:05:00] is going to be cheaper than half the cost of today's electricity. In other words, they'll be cheaper than maintaining the grid. Which is already happening in Hawaii, by the way. So whatever happens in Hawaii happens in...

Dave: And parts of California and transitioning more increasingly to California.

Kerim Baran: Right. Yeah.

Dave: So just to kind of bringing the conversation full circle. So I did grow up at a coal mining town in Montana, but the majority of the energy that was produced in a Prairie town in Montana is sold to Seattle [01:05:30] Washington. I mean, you're talking about, look on a map how big Montana is and how far away Seattle is. It seems crazy that we would dig up coal in one place, generate electricity and then ship it forever away to Seattle, which is interesting. And talking about owning your own power, most of the people that lived in my small town were pretty blue collar. [01:06:00] Everyone kind of felt like they were middle class. Once you leave Montana, you realize it's probably more lower class than middle class. But if you grew up in a trailer park in Montana, you grew up just like everyone else did. Relatively speaking, we felt like we were just kind of like in the middle. But we always knew that there were these-

Kerim Baran: And when you grew up around a lot of wealthy people, you realize they all feel not wealthy enough.

Dave: I would imagine [01:06:30] that's true. It's the relative comparison. Right?

Kerim Baran: Right.

Dave: But if you think about owning your own power and energy independence, like I remember my dad who was not business savvy, not an entrepreneur, he used to talk about how rich the people that owned that plant were. Which they were some nameless, faceless groups, somewhere else that were all rich, that owned the power. And there was all of us that just shoveled coal [01:07:00] into the mine to try to make those people rich. So for us, the idea of energy independence is a big deal. For me, that's a really big deal. And I think most homeowners appreciate that too.

Kerim Baran: Absolutely. Yeah.

Dave: And I've said this a lot, but I'd be curious if you would agree with this statement, but I've just never met anyone that has solar that doesn't love it. It's one of those products that just intrinsically has so much value. [01:07:30] People just love it. I've had solar for a decade plus, and every single day, I feel like I'm cheating the system a little bit because it's my power and I own it.

Kerim Baran: Right. To be fair to the utility companies, we are the first movers. So they are kind of giving that capability to us through their net metering program. So that's actually a good thing that they're doing. The challenge will be how to expand that beyond 10% penetration to 50%. [01:08:00] And that will require some creative solutions again, with that metering 3.0 or whatever programs might come out here in California and then beyond in the country.

Dave: So I know that we're right up against the amount of time that we've been able to allocate for this, but I think it would be just really regretful if we didn't have an opportunity to have all the listeners understand what you're doing presently with-

Kerim Baran: Oh yeah. Thank you.

Dave: One of the things that I love is, you've [01:08:30] just accumulated a mass of knowledge and you just know everyone in the solar industry. And you've started to sort of like aggregate those in a common place. And I actually am a consumer and a beneficiary of knowing you personally and being able to talk to you personally, but you've been able to share a lot of this stuff with your new passion project. I think it'd be great if you could explain to our listeners a little bit more about that.

Kerim Baran: So, my current passion project, I call it is SolarAcademy, which is, I guess [01:09:00] a little bit kind of like bringing together all my experiences in one new project. Kind of the social platform experience with my solar knowledge and the frictions that I observed running CivicSolar, because, a lot of what we did at CivicSolar was educate the market through sales and marketing. Sales and marketing function in a way is education of the customer. And [01:09:30] when Khan Academy first came out, I was super excited about what it's doing for the world of education. And putting all that information there for free, high quality that is standard, good knowledge for everyone to consume. I was at the time observing our sales folks at CivicSolar, our account managers, and what they're doing day to day, which was basically learning about a product either from the panel manufacturer, inverter manufacturer, racking manufacturer. Their product [01:10:00] managers or their account managers would come to our office, train our sales people.

And then our sales people would repeat the same information to dozens and dozens of different installers and contractors on the phone time after time parroting pretty much the same information. And I was like, "There's got to be a better way or more efficient way to do this, or at least capture parts of those snippets of conversation and also make them freely available on the internet." So SolarAcademy is a little bit [01:10:30] experimenting around that knowledge sharing of small snippets of information that can be useful to people. Right now, we're still tinkering, figuring out our MVP. I don't have a full-time team. I don't have funding. I don't have anything major, but we do put out good, useful information. Three pieces of information on vendor news, vendor updates, policy and market news and specific solar know how [01:11:00] either, for property owners or for solar professionals. And where this could evolve into, I don't know, but I was recently listening to Tim Ferris's interview, Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales.

Jimmy was talking about how he's also experimenting around video knowledge platforms. And I think, right now, where we are with digital video and video based communication [01:11:30] is kind of like that Nepal moment where I realized that digital photos got so cheap and are becoming prevalent that it's like a forceful thing. Like a picture is worth a thousand words, they say, so digital pictures got so cheap that you can just send pictures around all the time. And that's what made social networking. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million words. And so, I think there's something going to happen with video. And I'm just [01:12:00] kind of experimenting with that in the realm of solar knowledge and how to share knowledge more efficiently. We have 50 million households to educate, to go solar and to understand the value of each KWH.

Dave: Well, yeah. And Kerim, in solar knowledge, you've got a mass of it. You're also bringing on some really fantastic individuals that are also sharing some of their experiences and knowhow as well. solaracademy.com is a fantastic resource for people that are in the industry or people that just want to learn about [01:12:30] the industry. And the truth of the matter is again, all of the lay people that I talk to that aren't in the space when I start getting excited and telling where I think the world is going to go in the next, just handful of years, I catch a lot of eye rolls. But a place like SolarAcademy is a great place where people to go and see what people are thinking about and where the world might evolve to.

Kerim Baran: I got those eye rolls 12 years ago when we were starting CivicSolar, when the solar market was 20 [01:13:00] times smaller. The market grew literally 20 times in 12 years. And I caught the same eye rolls when I even told my parents that I was starting a social network site.

Dave: So you're used to it.

Kerim Baran: People don't always see the future, but what can I do? It is just the way it is.

Dave: Well, it's a great resource and currently it's totally free. People can go and consume the information that's on it. And I think that you're doing a huge service both to the energy space, but [01:13:30] just people that are just generally interested in learning more about solar energy and renewables. So definitely worth checking out. So I highly recommend it. I've spent quite a bit of time actually poking around on the site myself.

Kerim Baran: Dave, thank you very much for having me.

Dave: It's been a pleasure to visit with you. We probably get a talk with each other maybe once a quarter or so, and I always find it extremely insightful whenever we... I always want to get your sort of take on where solar is whenever we get [01:14:00] together. So thanks for coming on and joining in our conversation. And it was fun to learn a little bit more about your background as well.

Kerim Baran: Thank you very much for having me and continue the great job you guys are doing at Complete Solar. Thank you.

Dave: All right. Thanks a lot, Kerim. Have a great one.

Kerim Baran: Thanks.



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