Business Startup Spotlight: SolarIoT


SolarIoT is the only company to combine individual solar project creation, cooperative investment open to any investor, and peer to peer energy transactions built on the blockchain.


Co-Founder, Ethan Horoschak

Name: SolarIoT

Location: Los Angeles, California


Product / Service Offering: Cooperative solar investment platform and peer to peer energy transaction

Co-founder Interviewed: Ethan Horoschak

This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.

Ethan is a senior in high school with over two years of programming experience in C++ and Swift. He took an online coding class in his sophomore year and began creating iOS apps, before competing in his first hackathon. Ethan says he has always had a strong interest in entrepreneurship in the technology industry. Pursuing his passion for technology through startups, he hopes to eventually start his own venture capital firm and drive innovation through investment. His interests include traveling, nerding out on movies and shows, and practicing martial arts.

Ethan strongly believes that combating global warming needs to a priority for businesses and governments around the world. He wants to tackle global warming at the ground level with solar energy.

When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?

SolarIoT began at the AngelHack Hackathon in Los Angeles in May 2017, where they won the grand prize, which was entrance into AngelHack’s Startup Accelerator. The founder wants to combat global warming by reducing barriers to entry for solar panels and free people from monopoly energy grids. You could not find current solutions that addressed the entire solar project funding and energy trading process.

SolarIoT is a cooperative investment platform where individuals can create residential and commercial solar projects, having it funded by everyday investors. Property owners then pay their investors for the energy production using SOLA token. Having worked in decentralized projects, SolarIoT wants to use blockchain technology and a token system in their solution. SOLA tokens lets the peer to peer transactions occur with virtually no transaction fees. It’s also fast and secure.

What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?

SolarIoT allows any homeowner to start a solar panel project and have it funded by friends, family, or strangers. Many people want solar panels, but simply cannot afford them. Also, many people have the money to invest and are interested in renewable energy, but do not know how to invest in a way that makes a global impact while receiving profitable returns.

Key to Startup Success: Customer Discovery

Lease funds exist, but require the property owner to pay back the lease yearly with interest. Investment into these lease funds is limited to big investors, who still only receive around 8-11% ROI after five to ten years.

SolarIoT opens solar investment to anyone with a little extra capital. The energy profits are distributed via a smart contract, based on the investor’s percent ownership of the solar project. Even after the investor breaks even on their initial investment, they will continue to make money on the energy payments.

SolarIoT is democratizing energy grids and allowing individuals to become energy providers. Project owners will be able to pay up to 30% less for electricity with solar panels through our platform. Investors will be able to make a relatively quick return on investment.

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What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?

SolarIoT is the only company to combine individual solar project creation, cooperative investment open to any investor, and peer to peer energy transactions built on the blockchain.

Some competitors have created a crowdfunding platform for solar projects, but do not allow peer to peer energy transactions. The investors are paid back similar to a lease, with interest on payments. Other blockchain competitors are focusing on energy trading, but do not allow for solar project creation and investment.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?

The company’s biggest challenges were getting meetings with solar companies and developing the MVP for AngelHack’s Hackcelerator deadlines with only two people initially on the team.

Balancing juggling school work and platform development is extremely difficult. Timelines were created and weekly goals set to stay organized.  Finishing school work was the first priority. To compensate, you have to cut out every day extraneous activities. To get meetings with solar companies, Ethan emailed and called offices continuously until he got a response. Persistence is the key.

Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?

Hackathons and Startup Accelerator programs are the reason SolarIoT exists. Hackathons are a great place to find innovation and entrepreneurship. The competitive setting, talented competitors, and helpful mentors create an event that is truly amazing for fostering ideas for new businesses.

After winning the AngelHack Hackathon in Los Angeles, they participated in AngelHack’s Hackcelerator program. Here, they gained valuable mentorship and guidance. Ethan is considering applying to more accelerator programs to increase connections with other entrepreneurs and mentors.

Global Accelerator Register

What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?

SolarIoT has been reaching out to local solar companies for partnership and investment. They are currently in talks with a large solar company in Los Angeles to gain funding and resources for the product launch.

By winning at AngelHack’s Global Demo Day in San Francisco, SolarIoT was guaranteed an interview with BoostVC, an investment firm ran by Adam Draper. SolarIoT will be going to San Mateo soon to discuss a possible seed investment from BoostVC. They are reaching out to other solar companies for partnerships so they can expand their range for installations.

If Ethan could do anything differently, he would have sent their investment deck when contacting local companies for partnerships to increase legitimacy and chance for response.

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Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?

Thanks to mentors from AngelHack, we have been able to find answers to most questions. The hard question is deciding whether or not to quit or postpone school to focus on SolarIoT.

What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?

SolarIoT is currently working on marketing our initial coin offering (ICO). Given how many new blockchain companies are starting, it is difficult to gain traction without endorsement from well-known industry leaders. Hopefully, connections at AngelHack and possibly BoostVC will increase their presence in the blockchain community. With funding, they can expand development and marketing teams to achieve KPI’s.

Also, some competitors in the energy blockchain industry have already had successful ICO’s. We feel the need to capitalize on their advantages and product launch quickly.

What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?

A helpful tip SolarIoT received from Thomas Korte, founder of Angelpad, and Zach Latta, founder of Hack Club, is that when asking for partnerships/ investment you are pitching yourself as much as you are pitching your company. You need to convince people that you are able to achieve your goals, regardless of what they are. If people believe that you can make your claims a reality, they will support you on your journey.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?

By incentivizing individuals to support small solar projects, SolarIoT can convert the world to sustainable energies quickly. They are looking for help in tackling global warming one household at a time.

Are you familiar with other startups you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing in your comments below!

Sandra Sloan

Sandra has previous supply chain and business operations experience which she is leveraging as an author with FundingSage focused on spotlighting entrepreneurs and their startup efforts.