When Our Powers Combine
By Samara Azam
This was originally posted at www.samaraazam.com
Emily Kirsch took a dirty word, wait for it… networking! And combined it with clean solar energy to co-found SfunCube. I heard Kirsch give the back story of SfunCube on a panel with Jose Corona from Inner City Advisors and Danny Kennedy from Sungevity through a Net Impact Mills Chapter event.
Like many people including myself, Kirsch had extensive experience in the nonprofit sector and couldn’t shake the feeling that things just moved too slowly. She was ready transition to advancing change through something faster moving. Kirsch set up meetings with key influencers, coincidentally scheduling meetings with Corona and Kennedy just one day apart.
At lunch with Kennedy in Oakland’s vibrant Jack London Square neighborhood, Kirsch pitched her initial idea. Kennedy pretty bluntly shot it down but provided insight into what he thought the solar industry really needed — support for start-up solar entrepreneurs.
Kirsch’s downtrodden feeling didn’t last long as she mulled over the recommendation. The next day, her meeting with Corona took place as scheduled at Farley’s East in Uptown Oakland. From Corona’s perspective at Inner City Advisors (a nonprofit leading the charge to create good jobs in Oakland through investing in high impact entrepreneurs), supporting solar entrepreneurs to bring quality jobs to Oakland would be a great mission match. He almost unbelievably said yes right away in a conversation that went like this: JC – Yes. EK – Really? JC – Yes. EK – Really??? JC – Yes!
As a result of networking/scheduling/serendipity, Kirsch co-founded SfunCube (Solar for Universal Need) in partnership with Sungevity and Inner City Advisors to be a solar start-up incubator and accelerator. Now SfunCube recruits, houses, and enables scaling for entrepreneurs working to spread solar with smart software solutions and business models utilizing IT, mobile applications, and social media. The idea is to make Oakland a bite-sized Silicon Valley for solar entrepreneurs. And I have to say it makes me pretty excited to think about all the organic collaboration and innovation (which results from networking) that occurs between companies housed together in the SfunCube building. I could be wrong but I think SfunCube is so new that they don’t have a website or maybe even a logo. If my Google searching/stalking skills aren’t cutting it, by all means post any links you can find in the comments. Is this sort of end-result you think about when you hear the word networking? Who are you going to meet with to brainstorm ways to make change happen faster? Are you open to jumping on an idea that isn’t your original one if the timing seems right?