Residential solar energy systems are an attractive proposition for home owners looking to save money on their utility bills while also reducing their dependency on traditional energy sources. For the vast majority of homeowners, the process of ‘going solar’ begins with an application for financing to cover the costs associated with their new system. Historically for many homeowners, however, the loan process has proven to be a cumbersome experience that ultimately dissuades them from completing the process. Loanpal’s mission is to solve this problem by offering consumers – as well as the banks who lend capital and the contractors who install the systems – an extremely easy-to-use platform that quickly and painlessly navigates all parties through the lending process. For the past year, Loanpal’s revitalized approach to lending, coupled with its proprietary technology, has radically improved the experience of attaining financing for clean energy projects, leading to an increased number of installations across the country.
In conversation with the founder of Loanpal, Hayes Barnard
Q. Can you tell us about the history of your company?
I launched Loanpal in 2017 to reduce the unnecessary friction common to consumers hoping to finance and install clean energy solutions on their homes. Quite frankly, up until we entered the market, legacy systems simply could not connect all constituents in a seamless and easy-to-understand way. We know this negative experience drove a lot of qualified people to simply abandon their attempts to reduce their carbon footprint. At Loanpal, this outcome is unacceptable, so we decided to build an entirely new, world class platform that manages the process in a much more streamlined and intelligent manner.
Our advanced platform seamlessly connects homeowners, clean energy installers, and financial institutions in an incredibly intuitive manner. Since we started, we have forged partnerships with 80 percent of the top 50 solar providers in the United States and we currently finance roughly 2.5 percent of all new residential energy production in the United States. Underpinning our success in making clean energy financing simple and accessible is my amazing leadership team. I’m fortunate to work alongside industry veterans who helped create the residential and commercial solar industry more than a decade ago.
Q. What were the initial challenges in founding and running Loanpal?
At the beginning, the most important aspect of the business was to recruit top talent to join the company, embrace and enhance the mission, and make it a reality. As with any fast-moving company in any massive industry, the best talent always has options. I’m incredibly lucky to have gotten early support from the best in the business, individuals who came here not just because we’re building great tech that solves a complex problem, but because we’re focused on impacting the world in a positive way. My team operates like a seasoned championship basketball team. Each member brings unique best-in-class capabilities to the table, along with a shared desire to win.
With the leadership team solidified, the ongoing focus is to ensure that our full team feels motivated and inspired to come to work each day. Building a company that values collaboration, respects input and perspective from all levels, and constantly strives to lift individuals up isn’t just a series of phrases we stick on the wall – they’re core to our DNA to empower our collective organization to move fast, building amazing technology, and help people change the world. When you move fast as an organization, you can sometimes feel the urge to skip vital professional development opportunities. It takes discipline to stay grounded in the process of building a great team, which means ensuring the proper time and resources are invested into the people and the culture.
Q. Which moment would you describe as being the most memorable in your career?
Surviving the financial crisis of 2008 as a relatively young CEO in the finance industry was the most impactful experience of my professional career thus far. They say you’re never a real CEO until you survive a near-death experience and that was mine – one that I hope I’ll never have to experience again. In those moments, painful but necessary decisions were made to keep the business on track. As a result of that learning experience, I come to work every day with desire to strengthen the business so that if we find ourselves facing a similar economic meltdown, we’ll be much better prepared to weather the storm.
Q. What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Obsess about proximity. Get aligned with the brightest, most talented people you can find. Hire the real creators who possess a balance of remarkable IQ, phenomenal EQ, admission, and integrity, as well as the guts to really go for it in life. Not blind optimism, but an enthusiasm forged by experience, discipline, and creativity. Find people that derive their motivation from a place of helping others, with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. If you find these people, you’ll build an amazing team that can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Q. What do you hope to accomplish in the long run?
If I could snap my fingers and replace all carbon-based energy with clean energy I’d do it in a heartbeat – I think anyone would do the same. But since that’s not an option, I must address the problem as best I can, and that’s through the combination of technology and financing. Helping millions of Americans adopt clean energy is the long-term goal, and we’re well on our way.
About the brain behind Loanpal, Hayes Barnard
Hayes Barnard is the Founder and CEO of Loanpal, a world positive lender that focuses on financing residential clean energy projects. Hayes is also the founder and president of GivePower, a nonprofit organization that builds and deploys clean energy-powered clean water and systems to communities around the world.
Prior to founding Loanpal, Hayes led Paramount Solar, an early-stage residential solar company that was the first company to leverage centralized sales centers to sell solar systems. This new model enabled the company to quickly garner substantial market share, as well as the attention of SolarCity, which acquired the company in 2013. After spending three years with SolarCity as its chief revenue officer and growing its business 400 percent, Hayes returned to his entrepreneurial roots and created Loanpal.