Sunny days ahead for local startup: Slingshot Power founder seeks to create the Apple of solar power
- Published on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 01:30
- Written by Niuniu Teo - Town Crier Editorial Intern
Ravi Chiruvolu wants to start the next Apple, and he’s doing it from Los Altos with solar power startup Slingshot Power Inc. The company recently opened at 164 Main St.
“We’re starting humble, with just this one shop,” Chiruvolu said. “But we want to be Apple. I want a thousand stores around the country.”
The motivation for Slingshot came from Chiruvolu’s personal energy bill.
“I started the company because I live in Los Altos Hills and I had a $600 energy bill,” he said. “It was just way too high, not acceptable. I wanted it lower and I wanted to see if we could do it in a green way, using clean energy.”
His solution: “We sell solar systems and basically help people lower their energy bills and get them off the grid.”
Chiruvolu attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School, served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and coached his 10-year old daughter’s basketball team to a winning record.
Next on the ambitious entrepreneur’s list is to create a nationwide solar company.
“The largest (solar company) right now is SolarCity Corp., and they’re only in 15 states,” he said. “There are 35 other states that would love these products.”
Slingshot sells solar panels, electric-vehicle chargers and emergency battery packs in addition to other gadgets.
“Think about it as consumer energy. There’s generation, efficiency and storage. Theoretically, we could do wind, but we haven’t done it yet,” Chiruvolu said.
The company also offers installation services, a warranty and annual maintenance. Its solar panels are designed to suit the styles of most houses.
“We’re the only company that has cool green, terracotta brown, just beautiful panels,” Chiruvolu said. “We want to make it so that at cocktail parties, people comment, ‘What is that?’ And it’s your little secret that you’re saving money and being green.”
Slingshot has pledged to contribute to Los Altos at the end of the year by donating and installing a solar system for a family in need.
“We’ve put up a map of Los Altos. We want to learn from the community what’s a needy place,” Chiruvolu said. “We’ll have a vote – maybe there’s a family who just lost their mom, or somebody who went to Iraq and had some issues or both parents lost their jobs.”
Although Palo Alto is a hub for some entrepreneurs, for Chiruvolu, Slingshot’s starting location is a source of pride.
“I’m a huge fan of this town. I live here, my kids go to school here,” he said. “A lot of my coworkers really wanted this in Palo Alto ... but I wanted to do it here.” Chiruvolu added that when Slingshot Power is “hugely successful – bigger than Apple – we can say we started right here, in Los Altos.”
Slingshot Power - Images by Ellie Van Houtte/Los Altos Town Crier