How to Revolutionize Solar Energy: Insights from Kai Stephan, CEO of Pegasus Solar


Discover how Kai Stephan, CEO of Pegasus Solar, is revolutionizing the solar industry with innovative solutions for rooftop installations. Learn about his journey, groundbreaking products, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in renewable energy.

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Transcript

Welcome to Green Giants: Titans of Renewable Energy, the podcast where insights and innovation meet. Every episode, we dive into conversations with industry leaders, experts and change makers, bringing you the stories and ideas in the renewable energy sector that shape our world. And now let’s jump into today’s episode with your host, Wes Ashworth.  

Wes Ashworth (00:24):
 Welcome to another episode of Green Giants: Titans of Renewable Energy. For today’s episode, we have the pleasure of hosting Kai Stephan, the visionary CEO and founder of Pegasus Solar. With over a decade of experience leading Pegasus, Kai has revolutionized the solar industry by creating innovative rooftop solar mounting systems known for their impenetrable waterproofing, extended durability, and cost efficiency. Under his leadership Pegasus products have been installed on over 200,000 homes, significantly contributing to the widespread adoption of solar energy. Kai’s impressive background includes being recognized on Forbes 30 under 30 for Energy and he holds multiple patents for his groundbreaking work in solar energy solutions. Kai, welcome to the show!

Kai Stephan (00:44):
Great to be here, Wes. Thanks for having me.

Wes Ashworth (00:46):
Yeah, absolutely. So starting out in an easy place, can you start by telling us a bit about your background and really how you got started in the renewable energy industry?

Kai Stephan (01:00):
I’ve been interested in clean energy for a long time. I mean dating even back to high school, middle school era. Yeah, I’m probably one of those few people who knew to a large degree what I wanted to do at a young age. And right out of college, or in college, I did a degree in mechanical engineering. And immediately out of that went into the renewable sector doing integration of large-scale renewable projects. This is back in 2009, 2010 era.

And that’s how I really started it. A little bit of a back story which inspired me back in as a young kid is I had the fortunate experience of having parents who were very interested in going on a big adventure. And so in middle school, we actually moved onto my family’s sailboat and lived on that for two years.

Wes Ashworth (01:46):
Really? Yeah, that’s cool.

Kai Stephan (01:57):
Yeah, I sailed all around Western Mexico and through the Panama Canal and up through the Caribbean. This is like year 2000, so like no internet, you know, I mean, internet was starting, but not on the boat. And we had a couple of solar panels on the boat that powered the boat in addition to the diesel engine. And that was just kind of an impactful time for me as someone who was growing up in that age, seeing how we could have this clean energy source and also seeing some of the environmental degradation that was happening in other parts of the world. And so from there, I was just interested in getting into something that made an impact. So I come from a lineage of engineers and knew I wanted to be a mechanical engineer and did that and still do it today at Pegasus, even my role where I’m at now.

And so after getting into renewable energy right out of college, I knew that was really where I was excited to continue to be. And I’m just super thrilled to continue to make an impact in the industry today.

Wes Ashworth (02:45):
Yeah, I love it. It’s cool, just like your entire career, you know, been focused and dedicated to that space and you’ve already made such an impact. But so, taking that initial step and now to current day, or back up a little bit sort of starting out starting Pegasus. What was the journey like from inception, starting the company to where the company is today?

Kai Stephan (03:25):
Man, it’s been truly a roller coaster. I know the term “solar coaster” is often used, but it’s been a lot of lessons learned. When I was doing the large-scale renewable integration out of college, I was involved tangentially in large rooftop installations and noticed that there was a time and complexity to install panels on large building rooftops. And again, this is a time when the industry was truly kind of getting out of a small niche, and I guess to a degree it still is small today. But it was really early days, and so it was off-the-shelf componentry, nothing really purpose-built. And there’s a lot of time and complexity that I observed in these systems. And so I, as a mechanical engineer, I was like, I’m going to design my own product that was integrated to the module or solar panel. We often call them modules in the industry itself, integrated to the module. I had also been saving up to get an MBA, it’s kind of a natural, complimentary degree with mechanical engineering, but decided to quit my job, focus on it full time and use the savings to start a company. I was like, well, I can either pay someone to learn about how business works or I can use that money just to learn how business works directly.

And there was, you know, I had a lot of thinking around, I should do this now when I’m younger, single, no family obligations, you know, can do whatever to drop a hat. And so I left my job focused on it full time, had some interest from a couple of companies that are still actually advisors to the company today. And I was actually on a path to file the patent, on a path to license this invention and then quote, go to the beach. Like, okay, yeah, collect royalties and let’s move on to the next project somewhere in solar still. That has not worked out at all. Yeah, still there then. And so the first company we were working with and I had a number of advisors that were really involved kind of early on helping out.

I think it was about nine months after getting some initial capital and the company we were going to license the product to declared bankruptcy. And it was just like, man, now what? Where do we go now? Our whole prospects are kind of blown up. And we worked with our investors to think through, and also around that same time, one of the early innovators in solar mounting systems, ZepSolar, was acquired by SolarCity, which is now Tesla, back in 2013. And that left a hole in the market because Tesla took that product away from all other installers that previously had used it. So I was like, all right, maybe there’s an opportunity to transition into residential. So I talked to the investors and said, instead of the licensing path, you know, screw it, let’s actually make the product, let’s start being a manufacturer. And so was able to bring in some more capital because the concepts were aligned with the value prop that Zep had, but then not being on the market seemed like a straightforward opportunity. And it turned out it was, we actually signed a 150 megawatt contract with the then third largest installer, which back then 150 megawatts was huge in resi. Yeah, so, off to the races ramping up manufacturing going full speed nine months later, they go bankrupt and I was just like, dude, two in a row. Come on. That company was called Sungevity for anyone who has been in the industry for a while. So all of a sudden, you know, our revenue vanished overnight effectively down to like 90% down or probably more. Those are really tough moments and we had to downsize the team and kind of like, is this gonna go through or should we just close the company down? But we had a lot of obligations to our suppliers, actually, because we had procured a lot of materials. Sungevity went bankrupt, so we weren’t getting money from them anymore. We had a lot of material, and there’s almost a, in some senses, we should have maybe restarted, but we had an obligation to a lot of our suppliers to fulfill those, really those debts. And so we said, all right, how do we work through this with this excess inventory? It was also a challenging moment because that product that was designed was what I call module integrated. So a lot of componentry was pre-installed onto the modules at the factory. And in that era of solar, there was module oversupply. So anyone who was a smaller installer, like a local regional installer, didn’t necessarily want to use one specific brand of module. And the distributors didn’t want to carry one specific. So there is a challenge, a severe challenge in getting enough volume and momentum to adopt this system. Yet there was no any one big company enough to push the needle to cause the factories overseas to actually integrate our product. This was this chicken and egg scenario that got hyper worse. And we ended up noticing, though, that some of the componentry was actually of interest just to traditional rail and mounting systems. It was our flashing, which is a component used to waterproof against where you actually screw into the roof structure. And that was effectively our lifeline to start getting revenue back in. We started selling it to contractors. We started selling it to– We’re located close to SunPower, who’s been a big business in solar for many years and still a customer actually today.

And so they started buying the product as well. And that was kind of a lifeline. Okay, we have something here. Let’s go off of this one product, this one component of the entire chain and really start rebuilding out of the ashes in a sense. And that was honestly grinding it out for a couple of years, like building that up. I mean, flying around the country, literally drop in, knocking on doors of contractors, getting doors shut in your face, “I don’t want your product.” But we had enough that were interested because I had a unique waterproofing solution that was truly a superior technology. And we ended up, over the course of probably two years or so, ended up having about 100 or so end contractors using the product all over the country. And really from just grinding it out around talking to everyone that had solar in, like, their tree of families down to cousins, et cetera. And so from there, then we were able to utilize that customer base to bring together what I call a customer council, which is a group of customers that we put under NDA and basically say, what do you want? Do you want a module integrated or a rail free system? Do you want a rail-based system? What kind of product do you want? And that allowed us to develop our rail system, which is then cascaded into a whole product line with SkipRail and Instaflash and really got us into a, become a significant market player over the last four years now.

Wes Ashworth (11:59):
That’s an incredible story, like really is.

Kai Stephan (12:20):
There were some really interesting moments, especially early with the integrating of modules. I was over in China, Thailand, Korea, doing, working in these module factories, seeing how things can work. I even went out to a residential solar install in rural China to see if there’s an opportunity to sell domestically in China, which was a whole experience in itself. It was like, none of this would be the code in the U.S. but you know what, if it works for you, okay.

Wes Ashworth (12:27):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Love it. Man, that is a remarkable story. And I think a really inspiring story, too, for those entrepreneurs out there that are starting or those sort of things. Like, it’s tough, and you do hit those setbacks. And as you said, sort of two years, those are kind of lonely, rough years, and you’ve got to grit through it and grind through it and get out there and keep asking questions and doing things. So that’s really, truly remarkable. So I know that design and invention are major passions of yours. You’ve mentioned some of that prior to, and I know you’re a business person and a founder and CEO, but I think at heart you’re an engineer and an inventor and those sort of things as well. And that passion clearly comes across. But tell us a little bit about that. Can you elaborate on how that passion influences your work today at Pegasus?

Kai Stephan (13:30):
Yeah. You know, I think design and creation is such a… It’s almost an intrinsic interest, just being creative and applying that creativity to mechanical products in the space, you know, mounting systems. I think it’s just a passion interest I’ve always had in terms of that creativity. And a lot of it comes from just asking a lot of questions like, you know, how could this be better? There is a bit of a perfectionist gene in there, which honestly gets in the way often. You know, there’s a lot of times where it’s like, the engineer is “No, get it to a hundred percent.” And the business side of me is “No, get it to 80% and just ship the thing.”

Wes Ashworth (14:34):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Done is better than perfect. Something like that.

Kai Stephan (14:55):
And that’s like an internal struggle. But I think, you know, part of the creativity process is… And it’s so, it’s easy to say, listen to your customers, listen to your customers, but there is really something about, it’s not just listening to customers, but it’s observing the customers. They don’t always say what they want, but you may be able to intuit it from watching how they work with something. And just having that curiosity to think through what the problem set is, and then on the creativity side is like pulling in different ideas or concepts from areas that may not even be in your industry, in this case, solar. One of my favorite inventions is, it sounds really weird, but the tie down mechanism on tie down straps. It’s like, okay, we have this thing that’s made out of just basic sheet metal, yet it has all these kind of mechanical functions and tightens down and loosens. And I don’t know, it’s something I’ve looked at a lot of times. Like, what could I apply here to solar mounting products? And I think it’s that… It was just like thinking, seeing things and being interested in, like, how could this be used elsewhere? Obviously being respectful of, you know, people’s ideas and IP and everything, but it’s just inspiration from, I don’t know, just other things that someone has figured out or people have figured out and how do I apply it to somewhere new?

Wes Ashworth (16:18):
Yeah, I love it. I think just as you said, getting inspired, right? And I think that comes from, there’s an ego part of that, I think. When you’re humble enough to know, “I don’t have to come up with every tiny idea from scratch. I can be inspired by something I see somewhere,” and you’re probably just always curious and looking at things and thinking about how that application could work elsewhere. And it comes through in your products. Like if anybody out there goes and looks at Pegasus product lines, you see it. You see these creative solutions to problems and a way of thinking about something differently that other people haven’t. And that’s why I love the story, love your product and what you’re doing. But so much of that comes through in just how you guys go to market and what you’re doing there. So we talked a little bit about this previously. In terms of your process when you design new products, and particularly how you consider the entire value chain from manufacturing to end user experience and how that all comes together with a product. Can you discuss that a little bit and talk us through that process?

Kai Stephan (17:18):
Yeah, there’s a couple things on that and I mentioned this just previously. It’s commonplace to say, listen to your customers and focus on the customers. It’s a couple of things. One is again, really observing how the customer works, but looking beyond just the customer is actually a really important part of it. It, to me, when we think about things, it’s the whole chain. So for our case, the customer oftentimes is the installer. He’s the, he or she is the person putting the product onto the roof and putting the panels in.

Well, the other parts of the chain are, you know, the far end of the chain is really the homeowner who’s going to actually have it on their home for 25 years. So thinking through, what is their experience going to be like, how do we make it durable to last that length of time? But then going upstream too. So here’s the roof crew who’s actually installing it. Go up a link in the chain. There’s the warehouse person who’s moving it around. Like, can they easily identify it from across the warehouse? Can they easily carry it on their shoulder? Is it awkward to carry? Then you go up a chain beyond that. Like, how did the distributors handle it? Are they able to make a good profit margin, which is one of their key initiatives? Are they able to cost effectively transport it around to all of their customers? You come up to us and you go up to into our suppliers who actually make the product. What would make it very easy for them to make and it be repeatable so that there’s minimal quality issues and there’s a cost efficiency to it? What kind of materials should we use that are commonly available? Or if we need to use a custom material, should we work with a supplier that’s co-located to someone who actually makes that material? How does it all package together to be most efficient from a shipping standpoint, which is both important from a cost function, but also just a carbon footprint in terms of shipping product around?

And so it’s really looking at the entire chain of how a product can influence and better each link in the chain. But then ends up resulting to having a really awesome product. I think the other thing I want to say is, on the observing within our sense, I’ll say it customers, but kind of any person or people along that chain as an engineer. It’s so easy to have an ego around, “I came up with this idea, this is the best idea, use it or lose it”, like I won’t talk to you, like this is it. And I think it’s so important to have a humility around your products or your designs when you go into those meetings or conversations with, again, anyone on this chain is just really observing how they react with it. Not having any kind of reaction like, “Hey, this is my idea. It’s the best thing,” because there are always things that you have not considered just because you haven’t been in that person’s experience. So they may, you may be an engineer down in Southern California and not been on a 40 degree slope up in, you know, February, Montana roof. Well, that’s an experience someone has and that’s an important thing to take into consideration. So really, being humble and taking in that feedback. I think one of the things I really try to keep in mind often is, I believe this is from Steven Covey, but it’s listening to understand versus listening to respond. And the latter is so often in people who become defensive, which means their ego about their idea, but just don’t listen to respond. Just listen, understand, take it all in. Even if they think your idea is total crap and they use a bunch of expletives around it, it’s like, okay, understood. Let me work on that.

Wes Ashworth (21:18):
Yeah, that’s so, so good. It’s such a great recipe for some of the factors that come into producing really a great product. And I think it’s something that’s missed, you know, where people don’t necessarily consider that entire value chain and how it affects each component of that, which is great. So I love that approach and story and you put that out there.

So I’d like to get into a couple products and get a better understanding of those. So hit on this a little bit. One of your standout products is InstaFlash technology. Can you explain, just a minute or two, just what makes it unique, how it addresses common issues in rooftop solar installations? And I would maybe now, I’m curious sort of to hear like how’d it come about? What was the original idea and some of those inception points?

Kai Stephan (22:02):
Yeah, totally. So Instaflash is a really awesome technology. Effectively what it does is, it provides literally best in class waterproof seal to a roof. How it does that that’s different than other items out there, other waterproofing technologies: first off, it is a non-hardening, non-curing substance. So it always has a semi-liquid state to it, kind of like a grease maybe. And so, over time as there’s thermal expansions or the building settles, it’s always resealing to the roof. It doesn’t harden and then have a potential to delaminate. And that kind of goes to, how do we make this thing last for 25 years? Another key feature is that it works in temperatures from zero, like you can install it in temperatures down to zero degrees Fahrenheit all the way up to, I think it’s 170 degrees Fahrenheit. So really wide range. And so other products out there, like we even have one, a traditional flashing, which is a metal plate that slides between sheets of asphalt shingles. In really cold temperatures, it’s easy to sometimes tear those shingles as you’re trying to lift up the tabs, especially in cold weather where it’s brittle. And then other products where it’s maybe just, another common one is a butyl tape, which has been around forever. That gets, you know, think of it as kind of like a gum. It gets really hard and brittle at cold temperatures. You can’t install it below 32 degrees. And so what Instaflash does is effectively extends the installation season for installers that are in areas that get really cold or get really hot. The other thing with that non-hardening factor is it provides just a total bomb-proof waterproof seal. And that’s a big issue with rooftop solar where you’re, it’s really the only applications where you’re putting 50 holes in your roof. You know, you think of vents or a satellite or a chimney, it’s like one or two holes. So it’s, there’s a lot of holes in your roof and any one given leak can cause thousands of damage to the home. And so having just a, that’s like something you don’t want to go cheap on. It’s like you’re buying brake pads for a 747, you’re going to get the best brake pads there are. I don’t want that thing coming off the end of the runway. So it provides those benefits of really good waterproofing extending the installation season.

The other added benefit is it can install on wet roofs as well as dry roofs. So those installers who are in areas that may have rain or maybe there’s some dew on the roof in the morning, which is very common. You can go ahead and install it and not void the warranty. Whereas other systems may require the roof to be dry, but who actually waits for that? But then is it, is the system compromised? You may not know for a couple of years until there’s a failure. With InstaFlash you don’t have to worry about that. And I think the overall philosophy around it goes to one of our core interests, which is just to accelerate the adoption of solar. And a key function of that is making, is lowering the installation skill set bar required to get more people to install solar. If you think of the universe of capable installers as a set number, if we can make it easier, we can expand that universe and not have a labor shortage to install solar. And so by having a product that has a wider range of like, fudge factor effectively, but still hitting the mark in terms of being in warranty, avoiding any kind of roof leaks or damage, we’re helping to expand the pool of potential installers and thus allowing more people to install solar at a lower cost.

Wes Ashworth (26:25):
Yeah, it’s incredible. And so many of those things you think about, and I love just making it easier, reducing that, sort of, a lot of like, the hesitation behind it from the installer side, also from the homeowner. And I would imagine that the average consumer is one of the things they think about is like, yeah, okay, I’m interested in solar, but is it going to be fully waterproof? Am I going to have some leak? And then they’re going to have to come back out. I’m going to have damage.

I love how your products really do, and this goes back to thinking about the entire chain, making it easier for the consumer, putting their mind at ease, giving them a higher quality product, making it easier for the installer and those sort of things too. And I got to say this, Pegasus has some of the best marketing videos of any company out there. And this video that talks about that and the new guy installing it is a classic. So I will link that in the show notes. It’s an incredible video that really does paint a picture. So moving on to different products, as you mentioned, SkipRail technology. Tell us a little bit about that. What was the inspiration behind it, and then what benefit does it bring to the solar installation process?

Kai Stephan (27:35):
Yeah, SkipRail is a phenomenal product. It came about actually from having so many years of experience in solar where we actually started with our module integrated product line that never really took off. And that is similar to a rail-less product where we don’t have these structural beams underneath the modules. But instead you have a series of clamps and splices that connect the panels directly to each other or modules directly to each other. And when we launched our rail system and really did the process with our customer council, many of them, if not all of them, wanted a rail-based system, even though that on paper can be more componentry than a rail-less system. They wanted a rail system because there is much more forgiving use of it on a roof. There’s not as much complexity, there’s not as much training. It’s what’s been around, so installers know how to do it going back to that, you know, building the lower skill set bar. And there’s benefits to it on steep roofs and with the rails actually being a way to support and hold all the wires that connect each module to each other. And so because we had those routes with railists, we said, well, we’re going to launch a rail system, but what if there was a hybrid between the two? What if we could make something that’s really the best of both worlds? And that’s what SkipRail is. SkipRail, on average, reduces the number of rails and clamps on a system by 25%. It’s just crazy reduction in material. And then reduce the number of roof penetrations by about 15%. In some cases, you need a couple more roof attachments just because there’s less rail. And so it’s just straight up material reduction and labor savings. There’s also some usability benefits in terms of how it couples module rows together, which provides an integrated electrical bonding path for, which is a key thing in rooftop solar, and providing some leveling so all the modules have a contiguous plane so it looks just super clean.

So SkipRail is, yeah, it’s been really, really popular. I’ll mention it here. We’ve had, I want to say like 51 companies now try it since we’d launched it and 49 have fully adopted it at this point. And it’s just been really successful. Really successful. And we’re just not seeing it stop. So that’s been a really awesome product. And what it comes from is also from those days in rail-less where, you know, working with a lot of the module manufacturers in their factories, learning about how they design their modules and how they think about it. The basic philosophy is that module manufacturers, and this goes with many industries, they want to reduce the number of different SKUs they carry. They want to simplify their product line. And so they want to have oftentimes one SKU, one type of module that works everywhere in the country, which means they design it to work on the coast of Florida and up in the Rocky Mountains all the way down to San Diego or somewhere that has no snow and minimal wind events. Which means that since that module is built for those high load areas, the Rocky Mountains and coastal Florida, it means that it’s overbuilt effectively for San Diego. And so SkipRail doesn’t work everywhere in the country. That’s perfectly fine and that’s the intention of it. It takes advantage of the strength that’s already inherent in the module for those high load areas. In those areas our customers just use our rail a second time, so we call it “dual rail install.” But then cost optimizes their whole fleet of installations where 80% of their installs are in lower load areas. And they can just add this one part, the skip row clamp, immediately eliminate 25% of rails and clamps and 15% of roof penetrations with one skew. And it’s just like, it’s just a phenomenal way to optimize their costs and efficiency in terms of installing and material use. Yeah, really been phenomenal to see how popular it’s become.

Wes Ashworth (32:08):
Yeah, that’s a game changer. Absolutely. I mean with the success rate you just mentioned, I mean that’s mind-blowing. It’s incredible. And I was going to ask this question, but thank you for, you sort of teed it up and launched a new product for me the day before our episode, so happy coincidence, but I was going to ask you sort of about some new products or things that are on the horizon. So what are some of those new products that are coming and you can share the most recent one and some other things that are going on.

Kai Stephan (32:51):
Yeah, we just launched yesterday a really fun product called Bond Box, which effectively is a box, a junction box where all the different wires from your system would come together. They join into the kind of the final wire, if you will, down to the home’s electrical panel. People have had those around forever. What’s different about our system is just how it has a number of features on it to make it, again, a better day on the job, easier to use, lower cost. One of the key things is that it itself electrically bonds to the rail. And then it has a pathway to what’s called a ground lug inside of the box itself. And so what that solves is, it eliminates the traditional step of adding a ground lug separate from the box and running bare copper wire into the box and having to make an electrical connection there. So material reduction, and just you’re going to have a higher quality install for 25 years because there’s just literally less connection points, less points of potential failure in the system. So that was a really fun one to launch and that went out yesterday where we got our first PO in this morning. So it’s off to the races.

Wes Ashworth (34:11):
Yeah. That product also has a great marketing video that I will also link. It’s good stuff. It looked fun, I had fun watching it, so I can imagine it was fun to record.

Kai Stephan (34:25):
Yeah, man, that was a fun one to make. Well, I think just a little sidebar to one of your early questions, you know, you’re talking about creativity and product design. Well, creativity and marketing is like another passion as you can probably sense.

Wes Ashworth (34:37):
Yeah, no, I love that. That comes across really, really well.

Kai Stephan (34:52):
In terms of future products, I think we have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline, you know, it’s applying the same methodology and process to product development and creativity to basically different parts of the products that our customers are using, whether it’s on a rooftop or maybe not. I won’t say what that is, but applying that same process. We have, I would say we have more product development in our pipeline now than we, like you would have asked me a while ago, we would have been finished at SkipRail. Well, now we have more items on our list than we can even handle. There’s so many opportunities to innovate. It’s just really exciting. Really exciting. So yeah, keep an eye out for the upcoming months and years. There’s going to be a lot of neat things coming out.

Wes Ashworth (35:39):
Yeah, for sure. And it’s exciting having folks like you in the space and so passionate about it. I mean, these are the types of things that we need to happen in the industry just to continue to innovate, continue to create, continue to make it easier, continue to reduce material use, material cost. I mean, all these things and how you’re going about it is exactly what the industry needs to continue to accelerate. So thank you for all that you’re doing there. We’re getting closer to time, but I have a couple of more questions.

You mentioned the early days and then some of the trials and tribulations of that early business stuff and, you know, getting to the point of almost going like, do we hang it up and or do we keep going? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in the renewable energy space? And again, I think we need more entrepreneurs. We need more people like you coming in the industry. So what advice would you offer to them?

Kai Stephan (36:32):
I think a couple things. One is persistence is, I think, almost an underrated attribute. Even when you think you should hang it up, just give it a couple more steps and see where that goes when they’re in those really dark moments, which do happen, especially as a founder and CEO, it’s alone at the top in many regards or it can be. Just one foot in front of the next when you get into those moments. And if it is the right thing to do for not just you, but for all the stakeholders to move on, then maybe that’s the right thing. But just give it a couple more steps and see if you can push through. I think that’s one thing. I think another thing is taking that step back.

Kai Stephan (37:28):
So you don’t have such a myopic view on one link in the chain and seeing the whole chain. Like that will allow you to have a broader perspective on your product or your service and how you can make something really efficient. How do you remove friction throughout the entire chain, not just solve for one link? And that’s going to create, you know, a really strong product, really strong, really strong offering. Those are two things that come to mind.

Wes Ashworth (38:00):
Yeah, no, incredible advice. Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think that’s a lot of it, right? Is just staying on the path and staying by the rim and continuing to innovate and ask questions and evaluate it. But it’s that persistence is key for sure.

Kai Stephan (38:08):
Yeah, and one other thing is just really like keeping that humility in a sense and maybe just a healthy dose of paranoia to a degree where it’s like, okay, we’ve had all this success, et cetera, et cetera. But like, you know, it doesn’t mean, time to hang up the coat and like, they’re, you’ve all got to be on your toes, all got to be innovating and keep moving forward. It’s those who become stagnant and complacent. Like the days are numbered at that point.

Wes Ashworth (38:51):
Yeah, I think we’re seeing that across the board. Things are evolving so quickly and changing so quickly. If you’re doing what you did a couple years ago or five years ago or less sometimes, then you’re already just irrelevant. You’ve got to continue to evolve, continue to improve and constantly look at how do we do things better? How do we look at things differently? So I agree wholeheartedly. Final question. So someone who has made significant strides in advancing renewable energy, you’ve been in it your whole career. What legacy do you hope to leave behind? And how do you envision the future of solar energy and shaping our world and the planet?

Kai Stephan (39:31):
Man, I think from a legacy standpoint is really helping move the needle on renewable energy adoption and in my case specifically solar. I think there are so many components that go into that. It’s a lower cost product. It’s easier to install. There isn’t a bad reputation because it failed five years from now. So there’s a durability component to it. Delivering something that is true to what you believe in and it’s not kind of a fly-by-night operation. It’s really helping accelerate solar through all those different facets. And then I think another thing is when I was starting out, it was when clean tech was a dirty word because all these big companies raised a bunch of money. It was like 2012 era and VCs lost a ton of money, you know, Solyndra was kind of the poster child of that. And I think having what I’d love to see is if our success and other companies in our industry have success that brings in more capital to entrepreneurs in clean energy. That is a big thing because that scales more technology, more development, more innovation into our space that goes back to that goal again of how do we just accelerate the adoption of solar energy. So having that effect would be really awesome to see.

Wes Ashworth (40:58):
Absolutely, absolutely. Well, with that, we will wrap up. But it’s been inspiring to hear about your journey and the innovative strides Pegasus is making in the solar industry. Your insights on just reducing hardware costs and simplifying solar installations are truly paving the way for a more sustainable future and making a difference. So thank you for all the listeners out there for tuning in to the Green Giants podcast. Thank you, Kai Stephan, so much for coming on the show. And if you enjoyed this episode, as always, be sure to subscribe, share it with your network, and stay tuned for more enlightening discussions like this one with leaders in the renewable energy sector. And until next time, keep pushing for a greener tomorrow, and we will see you in the next episode.