Female Founders in Climate Series
AN INTERVIEW WITH PARINDA DARDEN, CO-FOUNDER OF WILDGRID
For our second feature, we interviewed Parinda from Wildgrid. Read on to learn how Wildgrid is creating a solar marketplace to help homeowners and renters switch to renewable energy.
By Briana Tang
March 11, 2022
Solar energy is probably the most well-known of all renewable energy sources. The problem? It can be confusing, especially for homeowners and renters who are trying to switch their home energy supply. In particular, millennials and Gen Zs are frustrated by the dependence on fossil fuels and climate action from policy makers, but don’t know how to take the first step into clean energy.
Wildgrid helps everyone (not just homeowners!) switch to renewable energy. By connecting renters to local community solar farms and property owners to local solar installers, Parinda and her team help customers save 5-15% on their electric bill.
The process of going solar can be complicated and is a big investment that you want done well. That is why Wildgrid has done the research of pre-vetting local solar installers that use quality solar panels and equipment, have great customer reviews, and have excellent customer service.
Parinda’s experience as the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Wildgrid means that she has a lot of great insights to share. We loved hearing her thoughts about founding a company that’s powering the energy transition in our recent interview with her.
Hi Parinda, we’re so excited to feature you and Wildgrid! Could you start off by telling us what sparked the initial idea for your company?
It all started when my wife and I bought our home in Queens, NY and saw the opportunity to install solar on our rooftop. Going down a search engine rabbit hole, I found a ton of confusing information and seemingly government-hosted websites . I went on Zillow as well, clicked on my property’s ‘sun number’, and was sent to a website that promised to provide quotes for solar installation. Trusting Zillow, I gave that site my information.
As it turns out, they just sold my information to random companies. For the next 2-3 weeks, I was bombarded with unknown callers asking me questions about the trees around my property and the shade on my roof. I was feeling put off and frustrated when I decided to reach out to my co-founder, Krystal Persaud, who had more experience in solar. Krystal and I commiserated on the terrible experience that I went through and thought about how many people might have been turned off by the industry’s aggressive sales tactics. We knew that there must be a better way to help people go solar. So, we started Wildgrid (because solar is confusing AF)!
Your experience sounds really tough but I’m glad that the idea for Wildgrid was born out of it. It’s clear that something needs to change in this industry. Could you tell us more about how your company is leading the fight against climate change?
Our mission is to cut CO2 emissions by helping everyone switch easily to renewable energy, starting with solar. The United States is one of the largest CO2 emitters in the world. Even worse, the largest source of CO2 emissions is fossil fuel combustion, which is seriously outdated now that solar technology is readily accessible!
I agree that solar technology is definitely an alternative more people (and organizations) should look at using! Operating in the United States, which you’ve said to be one of the biggest CO2 emitters, must have brought its unique challenges and opportunities. What would you consider your proudest moment since founding Wildgrid so far?
My proudest moment so far is just taking the leap to quit my stable full-time tech job to start Wildgrid. It’s so much more rewarding to be able to work on a cause I’m passionate about. I also didn’t realize how much of an impact Wildgrid would have in such a short period of time on educating about the different ways to go solar. Most people—including myself before I started Wildgrid—don’t realize that homeownership is not required to make the switch to solar.
I really admire you for having the courage to switch from your tech job to found Wildgrid! Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I don’t think so - I value all of my experiences. Working with startups in all stages of their development has taught me what to do and what not to do for Wildgrid.
As a female entrepreneur, I realized that there are also a lot of people who want to see you succeed! Don’t let anything hold you back, and begin building that business you’ve always wanted to start.
I’m glad to hear that Wildgrid has strong support and that you’ve been learning along the way. Is there anyone specific you’d like to thank for cheering you throughout your entrepreneurial journey?
I want to give a shoutout to my family and especially my wife, Rachel, for believing in me and urging me to follow my gut.
Climate Lightning Round
Now, we’ll start the Climate Lighting Round! Our first question for you: what’s your favorite climate tech or topic?
Agrivoltaics. It’s the practice of using land for both solar photovoltaic power generation and agriculture. I also think everyone should look up pictures of sheep living with solar panels - they’re adorable!
Wind, solar, or hydrothermal - which are you most excited about?
Solar! Accessible and available to all.
Final question from us: what is your favorite book or written resource about climate that you wish everyone knew about?
Electrify: An Optimist’s Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future by Saul Griffith.
That’s a wrap for our second feature! Thank you Parinda for your answers - it was lovely hearing about your time at Wildgrid.
Parinda’s initial experience with solar installation now seems like a memory of the past with the work that Wildgrid is doing. Now more than ever, there’s a clear need for us to switch to renewable energy and cut down on our CO2 emissions. After all, Parinda is working hard to make solar accessible and available to all.
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