The other day my youngest daughter was reading a book that I read when I was her age titled.. “Are You my Mother?”

I’m sure most of you have read it but for those that have not, the story is about a small bird born while his mother is out hunting for food. The little bird falls out of it’s nest. Never having seen it’s mother, the bird asks anyone and everyone it meets the question ”Are you my mother?” Like every children’s book it has a happy ending including a reunion with his mother.

The story reminds me of my journey. Like many people in solar, I am reinventing my career after working 25 years in the semiconductor business. With great passion I joined the gold rush in renewable energy and have been living in the “Wild Wild West” of solar.

My journey and the company that I started 7 years ago (Mercatus) has been very much like the bird that fell out of the comfortable nest. We started out helping foreign solar technology manufacturers sell their product in the US market. It has been difficult figuring out who was the customer and so we kept asking the same question “Are you my customer?” We kept asking this over and over to developers, EPC, Engineering firms, Independent Power Producers etc., etc., to see where the decision on technology was made.

It was 6 months into our journey that we realized there is only one customer that matters… It’s the Bank and/or Investor into the project. Ever since this realization, we have worked tirelessly to understand what that investor wants and pass that knowledge along to the players in the value chain of developing a solar project.

The worlds of finance and solar technology have a long ways to go to understand each others needs. Unless we solve this problem and build a effective communication bridge 95% of all projects seeking investors will be doomed.

Have you figured out who your customer is?