The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and UF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CEI) have partnered to announce April as Entrepreneur Month. The Chamber will, among other things, feature an entrepreneur profile each week. Here is an excerpt from the Chamber’s piece on Alex Khokhlov and Jason Gonos of Power Production Management.
Next time you walk into the Seagle Building, head up to the 6th floor, take a look at the fluorescent lights, then take a look out the back window with solar panels powering the lights above you. Those solar panels, and hundreds more systems like them across Florida, were integrated into the building by Gainesville startup Power Production Management (PPM).
“We started with nothing. No investment. Just sweat equity,” starts Alex Khokhlov, director & co-founder of PPM with Jason Gonos, also director & co-founder.
PPM, launched in 2007 and incorporated in 2009, has a serious passion about solar. With hundreds of installations across the state in just under 5 years, many documented on their Facebook page, that passion has carried them through the startup phase and into a strong, growing scalable company.
“Our first customer put us through the wringer,” says Gonos. “They were very savvy and had procured 10 quotes from other contractors, but they liked us and that we were starting out, and we won the bid. We’re still friends with them today.”
It took five months after they launched to secure that first sale, but it ultimately led to a strong start for the duo. They attributed the rapid growth to a strong understanding of finance and the tax incentive systems for alternative energy and solar.
“Neither of us have a background in finance,” says Gonos. “We have engineering backgrounds, but we had to build financial models that made us competitive. As we grew, we kept up consultations with accountants and CPA’s.”
They say navigating the tax brackets and discounts brought them some of the first few commercial projects in the area when they were working with other contractors on a referral network. It allowed them to create a niche as a hybrid between a contractor and a brokerage. They would navigate the marketplace for a client, run the financial analysis, then install the best solution.
For the first few years, that meant climbing roofs and entering attics on hot Florida days to install the solar systems themselves.
“We have photos of Alex nearly passed out in an attic,” laughs Gonos as he swings his display monitor around to show some photos from their first installations. “It gets so hot up there [in the attic]. You could see the fear in his eyes.”
To finish the piece, please visit the Chamber website.
Visit the UF Center for Entrepreneursip & Innovation website to learn more about the university’s initiatives.
Learn more about Entrepreneur Month events and workshops here.