After more than 100 years in business, engineering giant Black & Veatch has launched its first consumer product: Solarhood.
Built through the B&V Growth Accelerator program, the company created Solarhood to streamline the process for homeowners to tap solar power. The Solarhood mobile and web-based app allow homeowners to access the feasibility of going solar, learn estimated costs and savings and get connected with local installers.
The completion and delivery of Solarhood is a remarkable achievement for Overland Park-based Black & Veatch, which was established in 1915 and employs more than 11,000 people globally, said Lucas Oehlerking, founder of Solarhood.
“It is not only the first consumer-facing initiative of the company but it also shows how Black & Veatch has a keen eye on technological advances and emerging trends,” Oehlerking said. “We see this as a valuable area to continue to explore and innovate in.”
In the company’s research and development of the app, the Black & Veatch team discovered that the process of going solar at home can be clunky and stressful, Oehlerking said. The Solarhood app and website will revolutionize how people approach that process thanks in large part to its simplicity, he added.
“We saw a better way of doing things,” Oehlerking said. “My big mission right now is about showing people that the additional cost to go solar can be about the same as going out to eat or to a movie once per month. That means that for about $35 a month, a person can go solar in Kansas City. So with your electricity savings and a loan payment, it isn’t too much out of your pocket to be green. And this only gets better as utility prices go up, and of course, when you pay off the system you’re saving thousands of dollars per year.”
Solarhood is an offshoot of the Black & Veatch’s startup and innovation incubator — dubbed the Growth Accelerator — that was launched in 2015. The internal program is led by engineering experts who have experience in water, telecom, power, renewables, oil and gas, and corporate strategy.
There are many advantages to developing an app within an established company’s accelerator program, Oehlerking said. In addition to the necessary capital, Solarhood has benefited from a deep pool of talent from throughout Black & Veatch, he added.
“Being housed under Black & Veatch has given us the tools and resources of a larger company, while still having the ability to take an agile and entrepreneurial approach,” Oehlerking said. “We have skilled internal B&V staff located all around the world, as well as external team members who are specialists in the fields of development, analytics, digital marketing and more.”
The Solarhood team has tested and revamped its approach throughout the process, Oehlerking said. And just because the product is live doesn’t mean the Solarhood team is content — they won’t stop iterating, he added.
“Now that the app has launched, we’re not just going to pat ourselves on the back and say we’re done,” Oehlerking said. “This is only the beginning. We’ve been welcoming lots of input from customers to continue to make the app and website most useful to them. We are hearing some really great things but still have a lot to learn.”
Solarhood is now available to customers in the Kansas City area, Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington. The company is now plotting the expansion of Solarhood nationwide, Oehlerking said.
The Solarhood team is playing host to a kickoff party 5 p.m., July 19 at BKS Artisan Ales in Brookside.
To learn more about Solarhood, check out the video below.