DETROIT — Detroit-based GreenLancer, a Web-based solar energy engineering company, today announced that it has secured more than $275,000 in private funding from a syndicate of Michigan-based investors.
The GreenLancer offering was oversubscribed with additional investors still coming aboard.
“GreenLancer has created a hybrid business model that leverages technology with the flexibility of the human touch,” said Rick DeVos, founder and CEO of Grand Rapids-based Start Garden, one of GreenLancer’s newest investors. “Their assembly line approach has proven that they can provide professional engineering support that is far more cost effective than their brick-and-mortar competitors. This is exactly what the renewable energy industry needs to reduce the soft cost associated with developing clean energy projects.”
Launched in 2011, GreenLancer has organized a national network of green energy engineering freelancers or “greenlancers” who are highly skilled at developing and engineering plans to meet clients’ diverse energy needs.
The company’s services include online technical documents, engineering services and financial modeling support for contractors’ use in proposing, developing and designing solar electric systems.
By doing this work “in the cloud,” GreenLancer is able to provide fast, easy, affordable and accessible engineering support that reduces the soft costs associated with developing solar energy projects and can do it more cost effectively than their vertically integrated, brick-and-mortar competitors.
Initial investors in GreenLancer include Bizdom (Detroit), Start Garden (Grand Rapids), Blue Water Angels (Midland) and Northern Michigan Angels (Traverse City). Funding will be used to support GreenLancer’s ambitious growth plan.
“We’re extremely gratified by the response to our offering and confident that each of these investors will be rewarded for the confidence they’ve shown in GreenLancer,” said Michael Sharber, CEO of GreenLancer. “Our standardized processes, systematic workflows, and predefined products have resulted in virtual assembly lines that are now providing the next generation of professional engineering services. This assembly line approach has proven to show significant cost savings for project developers.”
GreenLancer’s crowd-sourcing, in-the-cloud approach has enabled it to work seamlessly in 32 states and six countries spanning four continents. As a result of early market traction, the firm has recently added five full-time staff to meet demand in the booming sector that represents up to $56 billion annually in the United States and $260 billion globally.
GreenLancer projects are developed ‘in the cloud’ by its greenlancers who have been extensively pre-screened and qualified to design and build clean energy systems with an early focus on solar and photovoltaic installations.
“We combine our GreenLancer network with proprietary high tech cloud computing and mobile technologies to significantly cut development time and engineering cost while delivering a dramatically improved product,” said Patrick McCabe, GreenLancer CTO. “Using a crowd sourcing approach ensures that we have a broader, deeper and more geographically diverse knowledge pool than individual contractors.”
Much of GreenLancer’s early effort has been spent developing feasibility studies for clients investigating whether a solar electric system is actually viable and can provide an economic payback in a reasonable amount of time. Although these feasibility studies don’t always manifest into full scale clean implementations, they provide access to a broad range of customers.
In addition to recognition by investor groups, GreenLancer’s innovative approach and disruptive business model have earned recognition within the industry, most notably with a Next Energy “Renewable Energy Innovation” award.
“More than entrepreneurs, we consider ourselves Street Fighters,” said Sharber. “GreenLancer’s ultimate success is determined by our ability to work in the trenches, to mine opportunities and prove to clients that clean energy investment can drop straight to their bottom-line while also contributing to a more sustainable future. It’s our mission and, as street fighters, we’ll roll-up our sleeves and see it to fruition.”
GreenLancer’s first investor, Bizdom, remains a cornerstone of the company’s success.
“Detroit, in general, and Bizdom, in particular, are generating amazing opportunities for start-up companies like GreenLancer,” said Sharber. “At our core, we’re a technology company. Through Bizdom, we have access to resources, information and talent that would have been very difficult to find elsewhere, especially at this early stage.”
Bizdom is the entrepreneurial accelerator formed in 2007 by Dan Gilbert, chairman of Rock Ventures LLC and Quicken Loans Inc. GreenLancer is housed in Detroit’s M@dison building which serves as an incubator for dozens of tech companies.
“We want to make a difference. We’re in the right city, with the right partners to do just that,” said Sharber.
GreenLancer serves all sectors of the construction industry. For more information visit www.greenlancer.com