Jeanine Cotter’s two-hour commute from her San Francisco home to her job as in-house counsel at software maker Intuit gave her plenty of time to think — mostly about how much she disliked commuting. “It was nonproductive time,” says Cotter, age 46, who began making the drive in 2000. Those lost hours, combined with the demands of her work, made it difficult for her to meet her family’s needs. “It was hard to find balance,” recalls the mom of three. Having seen entrepreneurs in action — small business was the core of Intuit’s customer base — Cotter admired their flexibility, and she began itching to start her own company. Around 2004, conversations with her parents and husband, all of whom had experience in renewable energy, got her thinking about solar contracting.