While working as a consultant for a think tank on solar product deployment in India and Pakistan, MBA candidate Steph Spiers MBA ’17 was struck by the realization that off-grid rural villages were often in a better position to access solar power than nearly 90 million households in the U.S.
Wanting to shift this lack of energy equality in the States, Steph founded the Solstice Initiative with Steve Moilanen, a fellow graduate of Princeton University, where they both earned a master’s degree in public affairs. Solstice works with developers and community organizations to enable individuals without their own rooftops, such as renters or condo owners, to buy shares of solar projects and save money on their utility bills each month.
In 2015, Steph began her first year in the MBA program at the MIT Sloan School of Management. She chose MIT for its entrepreneurial environment and as a place to hone the business skills she needed to ensure the success of Solstice. That same year, Steph and Steve were selected for an Echoing Green Climate Fellowship, which offers seed funding and resources to emerging social innovators.
Steph soon met fellow MBA student Sandyha Murali, who now serves as Solstice’s chief financial officer. They entered the IDEAS Global Challenge and the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. In summer 2016, Solstice was accepted into two accelerators: MIT delta v and MassChallenge. They also received additional support from the MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund Program.
In October 2016, Solstice was awarded an $800,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to continue their mission of making energy more accessible and affordable for all Americans.