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“Reach the masses.” with Candice Georgiadis & Aviv Shalgi

Solar Simplified is disrupting the world of alternative renewable energy. We are breaking the reliance of renewable energy developers on the large energy-consuming corporations, such as factories and manufacturers, in order to expand their addressable population to every consumer and business that pays an electricity bill. We enable developers to reach the masses without bearing […]

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Solar Simplified is disrupting the world of alternative renewable energy. We are breaking the reliance of renewable energy developers on the large energy-consuming corporations, such as factories and manufacturers, in order to expand their addressable population to every consumer and business that pays an electricity bill. We enable developers to reach the masses without bearing the costs of building sales, marketing and billing organizations by building a groundbreaking, innovative and highly efficient B2C platform.


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aviv Shalgi.

Aviv Shalgi is a serial entrepreneur, and is the CEO of an energy tech startup, Solar Simplified. His military background, engineering career, and consulting experience have allowed Aviv to become a well-rounded business leader. As an innovator, Aviv has always been focused on positive disruption in industries where there are opportunities to solve fundamental problems. This is what drew him to Solar Simplified, where he strives to make affordable renewable energy accessible to everyone, while providing consumers with guaranteed savings and making the process simple and transparent for consumers, solar developers and regulators.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My military background, engineering career, as well as consulting experience have allowed me to become a well-rounded entrepreneur. As an innovator, I have always been focused on positive disruption in industries where there are opportunities to solve fundamental problems. This is why I felt compelled to join Solar Simplified. Additionally, the company is determined to make a positive impact on the environment, which is extremely important to me.

When I first moved to the U.S., a well-known energy company attempted to scam me. Luckily, I was able to cancel my service before I lost money on the deal; however, I later learned that bait and switch is a common practice by unethical players in the industry. Many Americans are unaware of these shady practices and are often scammed by energy companies. At Solar Simplified, one of my key objectives as CEO is to make solar energy accessible to all, while making the process simple and transparent.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Solar Simplified is disrupting the world of alternative renewable energy. We are breaking the reliance of renewable energy developers on the large energy-consuming corporations, such as factories and manufacturers, in order to expand their addressable population to every consumer and business that pays an electricity bill. We enable developers to reach the masses without bearing the costs of building sales, marketing and billing organizations by building a groundbreaking, innovative and highly efficient B2C platform.

For years, market conditions have been historically prohibitive. Recently, technological advancements in solar have made significant strides, helping to reduce costs. This coupled with government support has allowed the developers to create lasting infrastructure for the renewable energy industry. Consumer education is the missing link, and our unique grassroots marketing and efficient customer acquisition strategy help to overcome this hurdle.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In my second week on the job at Taptica, which was the first startup I worked at where I helped to build an innovative targeting algorithm known as behavioral personalization, I was sent to a large gaming conference in Amsterdam all by myself. I developed my pitch during the flight there with key phrases and data points that I learned from our Chief Technology Officer and VP of Product. I attempted to tailor the pitch to what I thought was important and understandable to most business people.

During the second day of the conference, I noticed that there was a gentleman that many seemed to fear, as no one was speaking with him. Due to my naivety, as I had never been in a sales or business development role before and mostly practiced my pitch in my head, I approached him and struck up a conversation, starting with some small talk. I tried to move the conversation to what we were doing and how we can help them to find valuable users who aren’t already players.The gentleman turned out to be associated with Rovio, creators of the Angry Birds saga. Obviously he wasn’t interested in my pitch nor in doing business with us or anyone else. They were at the top of their game and didn’t need anybody’s help, but the conversation itself was nice and he was a great person to meet.

However, due to my naivety and fearlessness, we closed a deal with his team in 12 months. We were the only advertising startup that they trusted at the time, as they were solely focusing on the giants (i.e. Google and Facebook).

I learned that there’s no need to fear anyone. Each person in an organization has goals — the key is understanding what their incentives are, what drives them, what they fear and how you can help them reach their business goals.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

My mom and dad were always my biggest supporters and mentors. From an early age my parents instilled in me that “the sky is not the limit,” and that I should always think big, try to understand the driving forces behind everything, question why things are the way they are and how they can be done better. That has been my approach to every task, problem, and project I’ve been faced with ever since.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Innovation is always a positive thing in my mind. Disruptive innovation depends on the outcome of the action. Negative disruption happens when we choose to sacrifice our future for a small short term gain with a significant long term loss. This can happen in many industries; however, a large discussion has been had recently in the plastic industry, specifically in regards to plastic wrap. This was an incredible innovation at the time of its invention as it reduced costs significantly for both manufacturers and consumers, and kept food fresh for longer. However, only recently we’ve been learning of the terrible effects it has on our planet. Due to plastic not being naturally recyclable, there are now floating islands of plastic in the oceans.

We believe that Solar Simplified has a positive impact on both society and our environment. Renewable energy is the future, and through our solution everyone is able to share the benefits of renewable energy, including consumers, businesses, developers, and governmental entities. The infrastructure, technology, and government support that has been put in place positions the renewable energy industry for long term success.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

The best advice I’ve ever been given surprisingly came from a Star Wars Movie. During my military service as an officer, I had the incredible honor to initiate and launch a special team that simulated a startup within my unit. My goal was to use our dedicated systems and knowledge in order to build products that would serve a broader audience within the defense sector.

I built a pitch deck, similar to one an entrepreneur would create when pitching to Venture Capitalists, and presented the idea to my superiors. They approved my vision and allowed me to recruit a few extraordinary soldiers for my team.

I received a lot of pushback and faced skepticism from outside actors, especially early on. After feeling slightly defeated, my commanding officer quoted Yoda from Star Wars to me — “Do, or do not, there is no try”. If you are telling yourself that you are trying, you have already accepted the fact that you could be defeated, which is unacceptable in entrepreneurship. You must have unwavering belief in yourself, in your idea and in your team, in order to beat the odds that are stacked against you.

This phrase gave me the courage as a young officer to push forward and never give up. It is fine to pivot and approach the task from every possible angle until you’re able to reach your goal. A year later, I was awarded the Major General of the Intelligence Corps award for Creative Thinking for multiple cross-branch projects that my team and I had created, which showed how unwavering dedication truly pays off.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

We believe that consumer education and consumer skepticism related to alternative energy suppliers are the biggest hurdles in our space. As a result, Solar Simplified developed a unique guerilla marketing, hyper-localized approach that reaches and educates consumers which allows us to generate high quality leads and efficiently subscribe consumers and businesses. We continuously seek consumer feedback in order to improve our offering and the customer experience. Solar Simplified takes every opportunity to get in front of the end consumer to educate the public on Community Solar and our offering by sponsoring events, conducting interviews, and holding info sessions. Our goal is to create a new ‘solar for everyone’ category, and for Solar Simplified to become synonymous with this movement.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Affordable renewable energy should no longer be restricted to corporations, as the market conditions are there for it to become a widespread reality. At Solar Simplified, we have a Robin Hood-like approach and want to make affordable renewable energy accessible to everyone and share the wealth with the end consumer in the form of guaranteed savings. All Americans should have access and be able to support renewable energy in their area while saving money each month on their electric bill. This is especially relevant in times when economic conditions are uncertain, as we have recently been experiencing through this global crisis.

As a company, we have seen great success and overwhelming interest in upstate New York. Our goal for 2020 is to expand across the entirety of New York State, as well as launch several other markets across the East Coast.

Additionally, our mission is to work with state regulators and legislators to make sure initiatives like ours are easier and simpler for customers. Customers have gotten used to simple and easy to use solutions, such as Amazon and Uber, yet the energy industry has not experienced much innovation and remains archaic. We are here to change that by encouraging the use of renewable energy throughout the U.S., while saving our customers money each month.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I’m a big fan of John F. Kennedy’s space speech. It was an innovative and bold vision back then and it still holds true today. It’s also valuable for every entrepreneur, especially ones who are challenging themselves to be innovative, disruptive and are looking to take society and mankind to the next level. As entrepreneurs, we choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. One has to truly believe in their ability and dreams to risk many years of your adult life knowing that over 90% will fail, and yet still pursue your dreams and try to make them a reality.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Steve Jobs said it best, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Prior to joining Solar Simplified, I’ve switched careers 3 times until I found what I love to do and what gets me up in the morning. Studies have shown that too many people choose comfort over happiness and often stay in a job or a role they don’t like because searching for what you truly love takes risk, and with risk there’s an option of failing.

We believe in our mission and know that renewables are the future. We need to take care of our environment, as it’s now more important than ever.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m a huge supporter of expanding and teaching financial literacy. The most important knowledge people can gain is how to successfully run their own financial life with confidence. It’s a profit and loss statement, a balance sheet and a cash flow statement all in one, just like every business. However, most do not learn in high school or college how to run a personal budget, live below your means, save for a rainy day, plan for retirement, or build and maintain a credit score. Solar Simplified ties directly into the personal finances category, as it allows for consumers to reduce their monthly expenses and learn how to budget as well.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow Solar Simplified on Twitter (@SolarSim) and check out our website here.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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