A division of a Fortune 50 company has an established and growing residential solar energy business and was looking to see if there were opportunities in the commercial market. The nature of this market, and the dynamics of demand, are very complex with multiple parties influencing whether or not a solar array gets installed on the roof of a commercial building. It is not always obvious who the ‘customer’ is. More often than not it is not the building owner or occupant!

What We Did Together

In order to determine the demand dynamics, we identified and talked to a wide variety of influencers throughout the commercial solar ecosystem. This included banks and other financing entities, building owners (retail, institutional, industry etc.), solar Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) companies, Power-Purchase-Agreement (PPA) sponsors, utilities, regulatory agencies and various other industry organizations and experts. From these engagements, a clear picture emerged about what each party’s value proposition was and how these different parties interact in complex ways to influence whether or not a solar array gets installed on a commercial building roof.

In addition, the engagements revealed several significant niche markets and opportunities (some which could be quite large) where the distinctive features of the client’s product could provide clear advantages. This knowledge revealed specific paths to market that the company could pursue to gain early adoption and experience that can lead to future business success.

The Outcome

At the conclusion of the project, the client decided to postpone their plans to launch a commercial business, deciding that for the near term to invest resources in growing their residential business. One of the factors in making this decision was the realization that the window of opportunity for the commercial business will remain in place for a quite a while. This knowledge was a direct outcome of the research undertaken and the project was deemed a tremendous success since it showed them a clear path forward on the commercial side of the business and provided an option for future business.

I haven't seen the I-Council as excited about a group of well-formed concepts... ever. We literally couldn't sit down when we were deliberating about which opportunities to fund

Brandon Rowberry , Director Innovation Council

United Health Group