Given Vancouver’s rainy label, thoughts of solar energy success stories don’t exactly leap to mind. But rainy days didn’t distort Thomas Kineshanko’s vision for disrupting the solar energy market.
GridBid is the world’s first rooftop auction. Homeowners can guarantee the best deal on rooftop solar by having installers actually compete for the business. According Founder and CEO Kineshanko the initial solution was conceived on a café napkin and launched in March of this year. With California serving as the first test market, GridBid got immediate traction by auctioning off $300,000 worth of roof space in its first week alone.
Gridbid, allows homeowners to auction the solar installation rights to their roofs online. The company says solar installers can save as much as 80% of what they normally spend to find roof-top space, while the average residential utility bill drops between 10 and 35%.
The idea for GridBid may have been napkin inspired, but it was by no means an accidental discovery of an opportunity either. This is not Thomas’s first entrepreneurial rodeo.
He actually caught the bug very early on with two businesses in elementary school—building and selling fire sticks and importing high end soda from Lumby, BC and selling it out of his desk. The real genesis for GridBid came after selling a portfolio of carbon credits built up in a first business, Habitat Carbon Assets.
He and his partners knew getting into solar was next. Proving the importance of engaging in customer discovery conversations, they talked to over 150 different people in the solar market to identify the key problems. The problems were roof acquisition and financing for projects. Thomas shared what’s driving him and his team, “we are going to learn faster than anyone, and ultimately build a very large solar auction and financing platform that will make going solar painless for any person, or organization who owns a roof.”
Globally, there’s no shortage of demand. McKinsey and Company’s Solar Power report finds the solar-photo voltaic (PV) sector is already a $100 billion business, with installed capacity to grow almost 100 fold to 500 GW in the next eight years.
GridBid remains Vancouver-based but Kineshanko is based in the US for now with a future US office likely. Habitat Enterprises (parent company that also build habitat carbon assets) is funding it, with additional funding from Vancouver and Swiss angels. Matthew Shaw, who most recently ran 1.2B carbon credit fund in Switzerland came on board to build out their ability to create a funding marketplace for projects.
As if running a startup wasn’t enough this summer, Kineshanko was selected as 1 of 80 entrepreneurs globally to attend Singlularity University, a NASA and Google backed technology entrepreneur incubator in Silicon Valley. According to Kineshanko, "It’s an incredible opportunity to learn about exponential technologies—those technologies that are increasing in power exponentially".
"With linear increases 20 steps forward gets you 20 steps. With exponential technology, 20 steps get you a billion steps forward in power. I'm here to learn how to harness those technologies to create solutions for the world's problems. Solar is an exponential technology and has been doubling each 14 months for the past 20 years".
Is there any doubt who will be handing in this fall’s most interesting “what I did on my summer vacation” report? Wonder if he can figure out how to make solar panels deliver Vancouver a little more sunshine? That will be a winner!