With more solar jobs in the U.S. than the coal mining industry, we’ve got to wonder, what companies have been creating these job opportunities? Better yet, what companies WILL be creating these opportunities? In Oakland, California, there’s an incubator and accelerator known as SfunCube, exclusive to the solar industry, and it’s folks like these who are leading the way – fostering the growth of 15+ solar industry startups!

Thursday night, during their Women in Solar Happy Hour, I had the opportunity to connect with CEO and Founder of SfunCube, Emily Kirsch.

SfunCube Members Discussing Challenges and Opportunities in the Solar Industry

SfunCube Happy Hour

JV: What’s your vision for SfunCube?

EK: “For solar energy to become the most affordable and abundant source of energy on our planet.”

JV: I like it. With that being said, the U.S. solar capacity over the past four years has grown 400+ %; what’s your thoughts on SfunCube’s role in the development of the industry?

EK: “SfunCube is at the epicentor of this opportunity, without innovative companies challenging the way at which the solar industry operates, without developing new business models, the job growth won’t be there. SfunCube is currently fostering the growth of over 15 companies; with one of our major success stories being the largest solar crowdfunding platform, Solar Mosaic.”

JV: Imagine you’re a student in Florida, passionate about the solar industry and have an idea for a new business model but needs the resources and mentorship to make it happen… what’s  your advice?

EK: “Move to the Bay Area… haha, but seriously, reach out to SfunCube, we’ve got two programs that we offer: an incubator and an accelerator. Those in the incubator rent office space and share common areas (i.e. conference rooms). SfunCube is currently has three floors dedicated to our vision with a plan to have all 7 floors in the premise dedicated to solar energy startups. In addition, we’ve got a company out of Sub-Saharan Africa engaged in our Accelerator Program from abroad.”

SfunCube Office Space (check out the desks!)

SfunCube’s LEED Certified Office Space (check out the desks!)

JV: So tell me a bit more about this accelarator program?

EK: “For the accelerator, the companies undergo a nine-month program in which they receive free rent, $10,000 of investment and free business advice from lawyers, management consultants, marketing firms and introductions to potential investors or venture capitalists. In exchange, SfunCube gets 5% equity in the company. We encourage you to reach out with your ideas.”

Big thanks goes to the SfunCube family for their dedication to the solar industry and invaluable insight – check out SFunCube’s website for more details and/or follow them on twitter @sfuncube