Revolutionizing Solar: Joe Marhamati’s Vision for the Future of Solar Energy

Snoball Editorial Team

Written by: Snoball Editorial Team | Snoball Editorial Team

Last Updated: Jun 19, 2024


In this episode of the Snoball Effect podcast, Joe Marhamati, CFO and VP at Sunvoy, shared his journey within the solar industry. With a career spanning over 15 years in environmental and renewable energy, Joe's experience and vision for the future of solar energy offer valuable insights for both industry veterans and newcomers. However, his advice is also applicable to anyone looking to succeed in their respective industry. Joe focused on teaching us about the importance of customer relationships, radical authenticity, and the challenges and opportunities in the solar industry.

Key Takeaways:

  • Customer Relationships: A strong customer relationship is vital throughout the entire lifecycle of a solar installation. Joe believes that providing continuous value and personalized communication turns customers into enthusiastic promoters.
  • Radical Authenticity: Joe encourages businesses to clearly communicate their unique stories and core values. Authenticity resonates with customers and builds deeper connections, which drives business success and fosters trust.
  • Challenges and Opportunities in Solar: Joe views challenges, such as high acquisition costs, bad actors, and regulatory hurdles, as opportunities for improvement. He believes there is potential to make solar energy affordable and accessible to all.

Maintain Strong Customer Relationships

When asked how Sunvoy helps customers, Joe answered by addressing an issue he and his partner observed in the solar industry. They noticed that even though going solar appears to be a great investment for most people, it has a very high cost of acquisition. The first possible culprit for this high cost is the lengthy and often frustrating process customers face when installing solar systems. “It takes a whole long time to get your solar installed, sometimes 3, 6, 12 plus months. I've even seen 2 years,” Joe noted. He also explained that once the installation is finally finished, there’s a common industry practice of handing off customers to manufacturers. The complicated, drawn-out process and abandonment post-installation can damage customer relationships. 

Solar installation

Sunvoy was built to decrease the cost of acquisition and improve the customer experience. It aims to keep the installer involved throughout the system’s lifespan, maintaining strong customer relationships throughout. Joe elaborated, “We really built Sunvoy as a customer portal and a fleet management system for solar installers… [and] as a way for installers to own the customer relationship from the minute a homeowner signs up for solar through the 30-year life of the platform.” 

This continuous engagement helps turn customers into enthusiastic promoters of solar energy. Joe shared his experience with Ipsen Solar, where they created a section in their CRM for solar ambassadors. “We would engage with these folks in all kinds of ways so they would know that they're not just a number, they're not just a statistic in a database somewhere,” he said. This personalized approach fosters a sense of community and encourages customers to share their positive experiences and refer others.

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Embrace Radical Authenticity

Joe also emphasized the importance of solar companies being "radically authentic" in their mission and values. He believes that every solar company has a unique story and set of core values that should be communicated clearly to their audience, whether it's environmental goals, social missions, or local community involvement. “Every single one of them has their own signature. They have their own story, their own core values, their own accreditations,” Joe said. This authenticity resonates with customers and helps build deeper connections within the community.

Joe provided examples of companies with strong, mission-driven identities: “One company’s mission is bringing inner city youth into the green economy, another company wants to convert coal workers to solar installers in Appalachia.” These authentic stories not only inspire but also differentiate companies in a crowded market. Joe encourages businesses to tell their stories through various channels, including video and direct consumer marketing.

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Pro Tip:

Be "radically authentic" by sharing your company's unique stories and core values.

Todd Jensen, the podcast host, echoed Joe’s sentiment, highlighting the current demand for authenticity, stating, “People crave authenticity now more than ever.” In a digital age, where consumers are bombarded with information, a genuine and mission-driven approach can be refreshing and make a significant impact.

See Challenges as Opportunities

The solar industry, while full of promise, faces several challenges. Joe discussed the high acquisition costs, unethical techniques, and need for regulation. However, he views these challenges as opportunities for improvement.

Joe cited the high acquisition costs in the U.S. as a significant barrier. “Solar is a great investment for just about everybody that's got some sunlight hitting their roof. So why is it that this thing… has such a high cost of acquisition?” he questioned. By reducing these costs through better customer relationship management and regulatory reforms, solar energy can become more accessible. Joe shared his positive outlook for the future of solar: “And so if we can get the cost down, even just 30, 40 percent. That's the point at which just about anybody can afford to go solar.”

Solar panels on roof

He also touched on the issue of bad actors within the industry, who engage in unethical practices like overcharging and pressuring customers. Joe called for smart and thoughtful regulation to weed out these bad actors without stifling industry growth. “There's a need for regulation in the solar industry. Everybody knows it. It's a question of what's it going to be so that it's smart and thoughtful and not hamstringing the industry,” he said.

Another potential solution for reducing costs, eliminating unfair practices, and streamlining solar sales is through AI. Joe explained his excitement around this possibility: “AI selling solar... if you can train an AI on those 10 or 15 questions or 50 questions and tens of thousands of solar conversations, you can cut out a lot of the fat and sales and marketing costs.” This technological advancement could make solar energy more affordable and accessible to a broader audience.

Do What Brings You Joy

To close out this insightful episode, Todd asked Joe, “What's the most valuable lesson you've learned in your career that you think entrepreneurs or business leaders should know?” 

Joe profile picture

Joe Marhamati

CFO & VP @ Sunvoy


“Get out of bed every day doing something that you would want to do for the rest of your life.”

Without skipping a beat, Joe replied, “Get out of bed every day doing something that you would want to do for the rest of your life.” It can be difficult to find your passion, so he advised asking yourself this question: “Is this really what I want to be doing independent of the money, independent of the stressors associated with it?” It’s okay if the answer is no! Don’t be afraid to explore a little more and find what really motivates you and brings you joy. 

For many in the solar industry, that excitement lies in creating a sustainable and renewable energy future for all. Joe finds joy in talking to solar installers and using his past experiences to help them find a solution and succeed.

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