Meet SolarList: Winners of the NYC BigApps Competition


Category: Best Energy, Environment and Resilience App Category

Award: $20,000


Today we speak with Tyler Tringas and Michael Conti, founders of SolarList, BigApps competition winners and a couple of guys who love solar power (and New York) and want to see more of it on rooftops across America.

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Tell us about the app?

SolarList packages our deep energy market expertise into an elegant web app that allows any homeowner to learn the cost and benefits of adding solar to their home in minutes. The app leverages an intuitive user interface and a powerful back-end financial model wired up to many of the industry’s best APIs and datasets. Our Big Apps entry is just the responsive portion of the app that generates the estimates on mobile devices. However beyond just the estimate generator is an ecosystem connecting homeowners, our industry analysts and our solar installer partners who help the homeowner to actually go solar.

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

SolarList is tackling customer acquisition, the biggest pain point in the $2.5B US residential solar market. Solar installations account for half of all new electric capacity in the US in Q1 of 2013, and the market is expected to grow 30% every year for at least the next decade. Every homeowner in America, and eventually beyond, is a potential customer for our free solar assessment.

What is the business model?

Effectively, we are a referral engine along the lines of Esurance, TrueCar, and Lending Tree. We break down a complex purchasing decision using software, then connect the consumer with the right company to actually help them go solar, collecting a referral fee along the way. However, there are many data points about a home that need to be entered in order to accurately model a solar installation. To get these, we use a neat trick of working with students all over the country who canvass neighborhoods using our mobile app and collect commissions. Involving students in this ecosystem represents a big “pivot” away from a pure technology SaaS business to a software-superpowered movement, and we could not be happier with the decision.

Tell us about your experience with the NYC BigApps Contest.

The NYC BigApps process was awesome.  Each track of the competition hosted its own developer day hackathon to encourage community building and collaboration around the various project ideas.  The cleanweb developer day hackathon was a great way for us to meet some great team members who helped us build some incredible new features and give the app an entirely new design theme.  Beyond the actual product, winning, the competition has brought our company some great press and investor interest.

Why did you choose NYC over other locations to launch your app?

We get asked every week, when we are going to move San Francisco, the unequivocal nexus of solar startups, but we are a Brooklyn-based company and would not change it for the world. New York City is incredibly supportive of tech startups and the talent pool is excellent. Institutions like ACRE, SolarOne and The Cleanweb are doing great work building the clean energy community. The State of New York is on the cusp of passing very strong policy support for solar, state-wide. We are still a small team here, but we hope BigApps puts us on a trajectory to build an incredible New York-based solar tech startup.

Learn more about NYC Big Apps.

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About the author: AlleyWatch

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