After a stint at McKinsey, Harvard graduate Jonathan Doochin found himself in Washington DC. Noticing the abundant government offerings for renewables, he decided to co-found an energy subsidiary for his employer Clark Realty Capital, called Clark Energy Group, which successfully won a $5 billion dollar IDIQ government contract for government retrofits and renewables development.
He quickly realized that federal and state incentives for renewables development were lucrative business opportunities. During business school, Doochin worked for the Department of Energy and realized that scattered information on incentives left most people in the dark about how and what they could access. His dream was to make all the documents and forms machine-readable so that they could be plugged into a computer model and easily searchable.
“In the DOE, we were always trying to push incentives and get them out there,” Doochin told AOL Energy. But there was a missing link.
As he was getting ready to graduate from Harvard Business School in 2010, Doochin partnered with his brother Jeremy Doochin, a former National Board Director of the Sierra Club and an environmental activist, to build a new type of energy business, a website–USGreenData.com–that aggregates information on state and national renewables incentives and is searchable by zipcode.
For a fee, users can input their geographic location and find detailed information about every incentive available to them as well as recommendations for optimal renewable generation type (wind would be recommended for windy locations, for example) and a copy of all the necessary forms to obtain the incentives. A typical user, Doochin said, could be anyone from a real estate developer to a utility, a consulting company or a private homeowner.
The computer model calculates ROI based on the effectiveness of generation type and amount of incentives for a customized financial model. Doochin said it is generally accurate “plus or minus” 5-10%.”
Doochin–who has already built five other businesses–covered the initial investments in the company himself. He said the decision was purposeful and intended to allow organic growth driven by customers rather than rapid-pace growth often pushed by investors.
“Our goal is to do good,” Doochin said. “To tell people, ‘Hey, there is a huge opportunity here for you to become green. Take a deeper look at this.’ “
“We save them hours and hours of time,” Doochin told Breaking Energy. When the automated system is not enough, a hired staff of policy analysts answers phone call queries. The small staff works out of an office in Kendall Square, Boston just subway stops away from Harvard.
The Doochin brothers hope to eventually make their model global and one that can incorporate new types of generation.
“Passion,” he said, is what drives the team. “That’s what keeps us going. We are really driven by the impact we’re making.”
Photo Caption: The US Green Data team poses for a picture on the Harvard University campus. The Doochin brothers are pictured (back left).