Ryan Lee’s career had a case of the seven-year itch. From pest control to alarm companies, he built thriving businesses that impressively powered their markets. But after running the companies for seven years each, he sold them in search for bluer pastures. In 2014, he founded Blue Raven Solar, which has grown to be one of the top 10 residential solar companies in the nation, did $33.8 million in revenue in 2017, and has a staggering three-year growth rate of 36,627 percent. #superpower “I kept asking myself, ‘What’s the catch? There has to be a catch,’” Lee says. “But the more I understood solar and the benefits to both the environment and the pocketbook, I realized there is no catch. I can look a customer directly in the eye and sell them a win in every way. I could do this forever.” More power to him (and the world).
I attended BYU for my undergrad and MBA programs. After graduation, I got a job as an investment banker in California.
Then September 11th happened. I got laid off, and no one was hiring.
So I started a direct sales pest control company and ran it for seven years. It doubled in sales. Then it tripled in sales. I sold it to Terminix.
In the fall of 2007, I started AMP Alarm. (Now known as AMP Smart.) I was there for seven years. We were extremely successful, and we even made the UV50 a couple times. But in 2014, I was ready for a change. So I sold my ownership.
Blue Raven Solar was born out of a desire to do something truly meaningful. Even to this day, I’m pinching myself over the value proposition in residential solar. It’s stunning.
The environmental benefits are massive. For an average American home, installing solar is effectively taking two cars off the road in carbon dioxide emissions. When you think about future generations and creating a cleaner, safer environment, there’s no better feeling.
It’s the only project I’ve ever been a part of that is a true win-win-win for the customer, the company, and the environment.
[pullquote]“Ninety percent of solar energy is being implemented in six states. I looked at a map and thought, ‘What about the other 44 states?’” — Ryan Lee, founder of Blue Raven Solar[/pullquote]
For the record, the customer wins the most in this equation by far. And we’re not talking a free gift card to Chili’s. We’re saving our clients tens of thousands of dollars. There are no upfront costs, and you can lower your monthly utilities by 10 to 30 percent. You could literally put your kid through college on these savings.
What people don’t realize is that over the course of your life you’ll spend as much on your power bill as you do on the cost of your home. People are “renting” their power from the utility company — with nothing to show for it in the end. Solar customers are owning their power — with everything to show for it in the end.
There are two bills in life that we’re going to pay no matter what: groceries and power. First, our families need to eat. Second, we need power. I’ve been inside thousands of homes over the last few years, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t pay their power bill. We’re providing massive savings to a basic necessity of life.
On a larger scale, out of the 20 industrialized nations of the world, the U.S. is dead last when it comes to energy. Isn’t that crazy? There is a better way. There are cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. People are realizing that. And it’s why our industry is exploding in growth.
We’ve been successful by thinking outside of what’s expected. We don’t just blindly follow other solar companies and mimic what they do. Ninety percent of solar energy is being implemented in six states. I would look at a map and say, “What about the other 44 states?”
Our strategy has been to go to states that are neglected solar-wise. We were the first company to do significant volume in Utah. Our state was a solar backwater until we started selling here.
The most difficult part of our business is dealing with the fine print. Every state plays by a different set of rules, and so we need to navigate those complexities expertly and efficiently.
Growing this fast has been absolutely insane. Once you’re in it, the only way out is through. You don’t think about it. You just keep plugging at it and finding solution after solution.
Utah is a very friendly business climate. We’re always topping every “best place to do business” list — and we more than live up to these titles.
We could run our business from anywhere in the nation — from Seattle to Montana to Florida. But we won’t run our business anywhere else but here. It’s a no-brainer.
Solar is not going away. As long as we continue to execute, the sky is literally the limit.
Tips for Sale
Ryan Lee is an entrepreneur of many industries and many talents. How does he keep leading teams to success? “Having a clear purpose and direction is key. Believing in the product is a powerful thing,” he says. “And, of course, sales. Focus on sales, sales, sales.”