Other Technology
Business Growth

Solar Entrepreneurship

Kerim Baran and 1 other • Last updated 02/2023

4.7/5 (view ratings)
126 students
7 modules
10:00 hours
55 assignments

Course description

Are you looking to start your own solar business? This course is for you. It provides mentorship, education & support for solar entrepreneurs at any stage.

This course was created and delivered by Kerim Baran, the founder of SolarAcademy and Brian Hayden, co-founder of HeatSpring. Kerim was co-founder at CivicSolar - a distribution business acquired by CED Greentech in 2019 - but he's built and sold a number of solar and technology businesses. Brian has taught entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship since 2013.

What you will learn in this course:

By the end of this course you will know the most important elements and key functions of a solar installation business: how to source leads, how to market and sell your services, how to design and permit a solar system, where to get your equipment, key aspects of the installation, construction and interconnection process with the utility, the various solar financing options available for your customers, what is involved in providing maintenance services for existing customers.

Electricians already have most of the qualifications needed to be solar installers, and this course will give you the rest to take the leap into the bright future of solar business. But even if you're not an electrician, or have a product-based business in mind we'd love to have you join us.

Solar professionals understand how the solar industry works but may not have experience starting and running companies. This course is also for you.

We host a monthly Zoom call on the third Wednesday of every month at 1pm eastern (USA). Enroll in the class before then and join us.

Designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs (or those considering becoming entrepreneurs) this course includes over 8 hours of on-demand video content as well as access to the instructors via phone (by appointment) and course discussion board (anytime).

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Full course outline

Welcome - Orientation Materials

This course is self-paced, so you don’t need to be logged in at any specific time. You can get started immediately after you enroll and the course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after enrollment.

  • Monthly 'Office Hours' on Zoom - Third Wednesday @ 2pm Eastern (USA)
  • Meet Kerim Baran (07:40 minutes) Preview
  • Kerim's Course Intro (03:30 minutes)
  • Brian's Course Intro (02:52 minutes) Preview
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile
  • What are you working on?
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board
  • Six-Sector Solution to the Climate Crisis (02:49 minutes)
Module 1 - Fundamentals and Overview of Solar Energy Systems

Fundamentals and Overview of Solar Energy Systems

  • State of Solar in the US & the World (01:02:48 hours)
  • History of Photovoltaic Solar (47:50 minutes)
  • Current Trends in Solar Energy (Innovations & Economics) (58:36 minutes)
Module 2 - Understanding and Communicating the Economics of Solar (for Residential and Commercial Solar Systems)

  • IBIS World Report: Solar Power in the US (September 2021) (.pdf)
  • IBIS World Report: Solar Panel Installation (February 2022) (.pdf)
  • Optional Tool - National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Data
  • Solar Math (10:22 minutes)
  • Line-by-Line Walkthrough of a 10kw Solar PV Quote (23:18 minutes)
  • Estimating the Solar Resource Using PVWatts (10:49 minutes)
  • Estimating Basic Economic Feasibility of PV Projects (11:52 minutes)
Module 3 - Key Functions of a Solar Installation Business: Marketing, Sales, Design, Financing

  • Entrepreneurial Marketing (08:06 minutes)
  • Marketing Campaigns & Creative Content for Solar Companies (01:01:40 hours)
  • Interactive tool for developing creative content (.pdf)
  • 5 Minute Solar Design Tutorial from Helioscope (04:58 minutes)
  • Project Economics & Milestones - Example (11:20 minutes)
  • SPREADSHEET - Project Economics & Milestones
  • Examples: 4 Solar Quotes for Brian's Home (.pdf)
Module 4 - Key Functions of a Solar Installation Business: Permitting, Procurement, Installation, O&M

  • Key Functions of a Solar Installation Business: Permitting, Procurement, Installation, O&M
  • Where to Buy Solar Panels & Equipment (11:42 minutes)
  • Permitting - with Patrick McCabe from GreenLancer (22:19 minutes)
  • Operations & Maintenance - with Greg Sellers from Stable Solar (31:44 minutes)
  • Kerim's Advice: Residential O&M is overlooked and underserved (02:10 minutes)
Module 5 - Starting & Running the Business

What exactly are you working on? In this module I'd like to turn the spotlight back around on you and learn more about your business and where you're headed.

  • Sales are essential to any business. What if you don't like selling? (05:36 minutes)
  • Tell Your Story - Why & How (Part 1 of 2) (06:28 minutes)
  • Make a 5-Slide Pitch Deck (Part 2 of 2) (07:08 minutes)
  • The Case for Business-to-Business Entrepreneurship (03:46 minutes)
  • Problem / Opportunity: Installing Solar in the Snow (18 seconds)
  • OPTIONAL: Schedule a call with Brian
Module 6 - Legal Templates & Startup Tools

Here are some templates and resources that you might need when you're getting started.

  • What's it (Really) Like to Work at a Startup? (12:03 minutes)
  • Startup Law 101 (.pdf)
  • Legal Basics for Solar Startups (04:36 minutes)
  • Forming the Company (.docx)
  • Sample Operating Agreement (.docx)
  • Employee Ownership Toolkit (.pdf)
  • Office hours recording: Palmetto's model for turning electricians into solar entrepreneurs (39:08 minutes)
Module 7 - Stories from Solar Entrepreneurs

  • Will Thompson, Nexamp (13:41 minutes)
  • Three Solar Startups Everybody Should Know About (04:19 minutes)
  • August 2022 Live Class Recording - Adam Gerza on the Inflation Reduction Act (39:51 minutes)
  • Overview of Climate Tech Startups (39:40 minutes)
  • Legends Solar - Conversation with the founders (27:39 minutes)
Conclusion - Feedback and Additional Resources

This is our last module but you still have access to the all of course materials for 12 months (1 year), so keep working and you'll be able to complete the course at your own pace. After your year of access expires you can optionally extend access with a HeatSpring Membership. Enjoy the course and keep in touch!

  • Inspiration: Tony Seba's "Clean Disruption" Talk
  • Full Report: UN Emissions Gap Report 2020 (.pdf)
  • Schedule a Consultation with Entrepreneur-in-Residence Kerim Baran
  • 1 Year of Access to Course Materials
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey
  • Consider Joining as a HeatSpring Member
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate


Kerim Baran

Founder, SolarAcademy & CivicSolar

Kerim Baran is the founder of SolarAcademy. Kerim is also a serial entrepreneur, investor, and company builder who has built and sold leading technology and solar businesses. Prior to founding SolarAcademy, Kerim co-founded, helped build and sell, a leading solar equipment distributor which helped thousands of solar companies get started in solar... Learn more

Brian Hayden

Co-Founder, HeatSpring

Co-founder and Partner at HeatSpring. Brian also teaches "Finding Your Venture" at the the University of Michigan's Center for Entrepreneurship. Brian has business degrees from the University of Michigan (BBA) and Babson College (MBA). He loves renewable energy, entrepreneurship, and hearing and telling great stories. Learn more


24 reviews

126 students have taken this course

by Mark McClendon, Solar Wenatchee 08/01/2022

Highly recommend! They cover everything and more. Time allocation for each lesson is just right for this 8 hr course. I even emailed Kerim a question over the weekend and he immediately responded from overseas, I became a Heatsprings member Sunday night! Thanks for your great to work Heatsprings!

by Ayomide Isaac Orekunrin, Engr., Inlaks Limited 05/16/2021

I enjoyed every module of the course, as it serves as an eye-opener to various sales skills, benefits, and opportunities as a solar entrepreneur.

by Willam Walton, Founder/CEO, Willpower, LLC 04/14/2021

Brian and Kerim are the reason why I'm moving forward with these courses. They seem like they have equity in their efforts-are in it to win it!

by Samuel D 04/07/2022

by Julian W 11/01/2021

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Frequently asked questions

How does this course work?

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. This 6 module course is delivered entirely online. This course is self-paced and you can set your own schedule to complete the materials. You can begin the lecture videos and other course materials as soon as you enroll. During your year of access the instructor will be in the course answering questions on the discussion board. After successfully completing the course, you will be able to generate a certificate of completion.

How long do I have access to the materials?

Students get unlimited access to the course materials for as long as their membership subscription remains active.

Is there a certificate of completion?

Yes, when you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our LinkedIn integration.

Can I register multiple people?

Yes please visit our HeatSpring for Groups page to get a group discount.

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