Homeowners are turning to solar power at a record rate in the face of rising utility costs and the looming threat of climate change. In fact, the number of residential solar power installations increased by 34% from 2.9 gigawatts in 2020 to 3.9 gigawatts in 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). SmartSolar.org founder Joey Cheek explains why he’s made it his mission to make buying solar simple and the importance of educating homeowners about the benefits of solar energy.
What do you think your company’s mission and vision are?
Our mission is simple: We want to help every home in the US move to totally free, abundant, 100% carbon free energy. For many people, that means solar and that’s where efforts are focused. SmartSolar.org makes buying solar simple by educating about the benefits and providing the best installers.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I love complex puzzles. When you think of the national energy grid - it’s enormously complex, but for consumers it’s as simple as flipping a switch. That’s how solar has to work and making the complex simple is a thrilling challenge.
What is your daily routine?
I’m usually up by 5:30am and try to work for an hour before my two-year-old wakes up. Then I have breakfast with him and get him off to preschool before getting back to the company. I work with brilliant engineers, marketers, and solar professionals every day to try and make our site better so my day has a lot of meetings. I try to wrap up by 6pm for dinner with the family.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced in business? How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?
Oh, man. There have been a lot. The biggest is that every single person’s home is different: every state has different regulations and incentives, every house has a different amount of sun and roof form, and every buyer has a different set of needs. Creating a way to serve all of those people with correct information is the biggest task we face every day.
What is the most innovative product or service you’ve worked on at a previous company?
I was in tech before and I used to build streaming media apps that would serve live video in real time to more than 1 Million+ consumers instantly. That sort of systemic complexity prepared me for what I’m facing now!
Why is now the right time to start the company?
We couldn’t wait another day. We see devastating wildfires, increasingly damaging weather systems, and the constant inflation of the cost of fossil fuels.
What trends do you see in the market?
Solar is already cheaper than fossil fuels in most cases and it’s only becoming more cost-efficient. The biggest challenge is keeping up with demand.
How did you come up with the idea for SmartSolar.org?
There is a stunning amount of misinformation out there about solar. With SmartSolar.org, we wanted to be the best place to educate yourself on the benefits of solar and make the decision that works best for your situation. I wanted a brand that reflected that value simply and honestly.
What problem does your product solve?
Information asymmetry! Most people don’t know much about how their power system works and unfortunately most utilities want to keep it that way. We want to level the playing field: make getting solar easy to understand and connect homeowners with the best possible resources and companies in order to make the best decision.
Why should users care about SmartSolar.org?
I think we really do make the experience of buying and installing solar for your home simpler and clearer and because of that you’ll be able to make the best and most cost-efficient decision for your home. We’ll help you save money, find trustworthy installers, and get multiple totally free quotes.
Who exactly is your ideal customer?
Our ideal customer is one who is either ready to talk to someone about going solar or plans to in the next few weeks. If you own your own home and don’t have too much shading, with most states in the US installing solar can save you money over the long term.
Deciding whether solar is right for you is complex! There are many people giving different advice and between your utility, your roof, your location, and the recent tax changes it can be hard to figure out where to start. SmartSolar.org makes the process easy. We personalize your experience and provide you with the information you need to make the best economic decision and find you multiple installer options so you know you’re always getting the best quality and the best value.