for A Solar Revolution
Who They Are & What They Do
Enphase Energy brings a systems-based, high technology approach to solar energy generation. The company’s semiconductor-based microinverter system converts energy at the individual solar module level, making solar simple and energy smart.
By the Numbers
Enphase Energy is a publicly-traded company (NASDAQ:ENPH) with more than 300 global employees.
“The deep pool of North Bay talent ensures we can recruit the tech innovators we need to grow our company,” says Raghu Belur, Co-founder, Vice President of Products and Strategic Initiatives at Enphase Energy. “In turn, it’s been easy for employees to find what they’re looking for–a satisfying high tech career balanced with a great quality of life.”
Watch this video to see what it’s like to work at Enphase in Petaluma.
Petaluma offers both talent and lifestyle.
From Start-up to Energy Market Leader
In Petaluma, entrepreneurial ventures do more than incubate–they hatch and grow into full-fledged companies.
A case in point is Enphase Energy, whose unique hardware and software solutions make solar systems more efficient and user-friendly. Less than a decade ago, Enphase was two engineers doodling ideas on a whiteboard in a Petaluma basement. Now it’s a public company with over 500 employees worldwide and a technology solution that involves approximately 134 patent families.
How has being in Petaluma helped Enphase grow?
“Petaluma offers a unique combination of talent and lifestyle,” explains Raghu Belur, co-founder and vice president of new products and strategic initiatives at Enphase. “Our proximity to the Bay Area makes it easy to recruit the tech innovators we need to grow our company. In turn, our employees find what they’re looking for–a satisfying high-tech career balanced with a great quality of life.”
A Tradition of High-Tech Innovation
Belur and co-founder Martin Fornage came to Petaluma in the 1980s and 1990s, drawn to jobs in the North Bay’s telecommunications industry, aka, Telcom Alley. Once here, they discovered a techie’s dream: an engaged network of tech innovators and successful companies living and working in a physically gorgeous and socially vibrant area.
When the telecom industry began to sputter in the mid-2000s, Belur and Fornage decided to launch their own company. They started with a question: How could their experience in telecommunications help solve the world’s energy crisis? After a few brainstorming sessions, they had sketched out an idea. They could rebuild the inverter from the ground up to efficiently covert the sun’s energy at the individual panel level. The microinverter was designed to increase energy production while decreasing installation time and material costs.
Belur and Fornage recognized that the smartest brains in the world would be needed to develop and market their solution.
“All of the best hardware and software engineers were in or near Petaluma,” explains Belur. “We were able to ramp up quickly and launched our first product in 24 months.”
Talent + Inspiration = Success
From the start, Enphase has focused on software as well as hardware innovation. Its semiconductor-based microinverter system converts energy at the individual solar module level and brings a systems-based, high-technology approach to solar energy generation. As a result, their solutions have been impossible for competitors to replicate–and extremely valuable to solar consumers.
“What we’re doing is unprecedented,” says Michelle Taylor, senior manager of global corporate communications. “We’re giving solar energy users more insight into how their systems are performing than most companies on the planet.”
Developing such a complex system requires advanced electronic engineering skills, computer programming expertise and a deep knowledge of the utility market. Taylor says it’s been relatively easy to find people with those skills in and near Petaluma. What’s more, because of the North Bay’s progressive and eco-friendly values, locals bring passion, as well as experience, to their work.
“There is a top-notch caliber of companies and professionals in Petaluma and the surrounding areas,” says Taylor. “Sonoma County has carved out a nice niche for itself not only for wine and agriculture, but also for technology innovation.”
Enphase’s Petaluma location also ensures employees stay connected to professional and networking opportunities in their specific fields, as well as in cleantech. Enphase sponsors Solar Action Alliance, a network of cleantech organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is also a sponsor of the Climate Protection Campaign.
“The Enphase mission is to democratize energy worldwide,” explains Taylor. “Living and working near the trees and waterways of Sonoma County helps to keep us focused on that mission. We know exactly what we need to save.”
Centrally Located with Space to Grow
Enphase’s changing needs for commercial real estate has also been met in Petaluma. During its first eight years in business, Enphase leased class A office space at various sites in the charming downtown area. Here, team members were steps away from the city’s historic wharf, award-winning restaurants and ornate buildings erected in the late 1800s. The company moved into its current digs, a 120,000 square foot building at the north end of Petaluma, in 2012.
The new campus is located five minutes from highway 101, which makes for an easier commute for those who drive in from the north or south. Nearby are retail shops and excellent restaurants, so employees can complete errands and grab a healthy bite to eat during lunch breaks. Enphase employees even have multiple options when it comes to their fitness routine; they can swim, play tennis or join an exercise class at one of the three fitness clubs close by, or take a walk on the open space or paved trails woven across the east side of Petaluma.
“Our employees love that we’re located in Petaluma,” says Taylor. “They can choose to live on the coast or on a ranch, in the suburbs or in the big city, and yet still get to the office in an average of 30 to 45 minutes. Even those who live in San Francisco or the Silicon Valley feel satisfied, since it’s a reverse commute and the drive through the North Bay is beautiful.”
From Petaluma to the World
As it has grown, Enphase has opened a semiconductor development office in Santa Clara as well as a Research and Design Center in Christchurch, New Zealand. In addition, the company has invested in global markets with offices in the U.K., Europe and Australia. A European research lab is also located in the company’s Lyon, France office, which works in tandem with the major lab facilities in Petaluma.
“Everything is centered around the Petaluma headquarters,” says Taylor. “It’s the hub of our entire global business.”