Solar Speedrack’s Niche of Innovation

Shane Shamloo is a serial entrepreneur who has jumped from industry to industry. Here, the inventor talks about his latest business venture—and why it’s his best work thus far.

Shane Shamloo wants to change the future of solar power. In 2012, his company, Solar SpeedRack, unveiled its titular product—a racking system that enables the installation of solar panels for less work and less money than the invasive method installation crews commonly use. In 2014, the company debuted GroundMount, a similar system for solar power ground installations.

In 2016, Shamloo’s team will launch a series of solar tiles, twelve-by-twelve-inch interlocking photovoltaic plates designed to replace solar panels entirely. Like Solar SpeedRack’s other designs, the tiles cut cost and labor, common deterrents for consumers looking to switch to solar power. But these tiles, created specifically for flat-roof commercial and nonresidential buildings, produce substantially more electrical power than traditional systems, according to Shamloo.

The Father of Inventions

Advanced Claims Technology: Shortly after arriving in the United States, Shamloo designed Advanced Claims Technology, software that allows insurance companies and auto repair shops to share photos and price estimates. “It was my first successful venture,” Shamloo says. “And it made a big difference.”

Solar SpeedRack: The product of collaboration with Michael Salvati, a colleague Shamloo worked with in the 3-D printing field. The SpeedRack was designed to provide a modern, efficient solution to solar panel installation.

Solar Tile: Small, interlocking photovoltaic plates designed to replace solar panels for commercial buildings that anyone can install, the solar tile is “the most exciting product” Shamloo has worked on, he says.

“It’s truly revolutionary,” he says—a bold claim for someone who, at age fifty-five, is a relative newcomer to the world of solar power. But as a serial entrepreneur with more than forty business ventures under his belt, Shamloo knows an outsider is better poised to infiltrate an industry than some of its longest-tenured veterans.

“As an entrepreneur, you can look from the outside and make improvements,” he says. “You find a niche and you adapt.”

Being adaptable is also something Shamloo knows a thing or two about. An Iranian immigrant who came to the United States just before the Islamic revolution, Shamloo was forced to restart his life as a teenager in a foreign country. Those formative years—tumultuous, to be sure—planted the seeds of ambition that would bloom throughout his career.

“I came to the US in 1976,” Shamloo says. “My parents weren’t able to support me after the revolution, so I was forced to handle my life without their help. That had a substantial amount of influence over what has taken place today.”

Shortly after the move, Shamloo took an entry-level job at a printing company, where he was struck by a pervasive lack of motivation amongst the employees. From the start, Shamloo put in far more effort than his coworkers who shared his title, even though he had no real stake in the company. “I cared about the job too much, as if it were my own business,” he says.

With no interest in climbing the rungs of a tired company ladder, Shamloo decided to start his own printing company. It wasn’t his most lucrative endeavor, but it set his career into motion. After the business shuttered, Shamloo designed Advanced Claims Technology, software that allows insurance companies and automobile repair shops to electronically share pictures and estimates—a piece of technology still in use today. Then, Shamloo started an online auction forum—akin to a local version of eBay—as well as a business that imported building materials from China, a 3-D printing company, and dozens of others.

Not every endeavor has been an unbridled success, according to Shamloo. Some, he says, have failed miserably. “With every defeat comes something new. If I fall, I get up and start again—it’s what motivates me.”

But Shamloo says that it’s hard to agonize over a defeat when there are so many industries in need of fresh ideas. His current venture is a perfect example: after forging through the 3-D printing industry with a business partner, Michael Salvati, the two decided to branch out into solar power.

“[Salvati] said the solar-racking industry was very old, out-of-date, and was lacking innovation and ideas,” Shamloo says. “We thought we could do something about it.”

Together, Shamloo and his partner designed the Solar SpeedRack. Six months later, the device was selected as a finalist in the Intersolar Global competition—a noteworthy achievement because it marked the first time either of them had created a product for this particular industry. Since then, Shamloo and Salvati have gone on to design a variety of solar-power solutions, with their most recent, the photovoltaic solar tile, set to hit the mass market in 2016.

“We’re very new at this,” Shamloo admitted. “But innovation and creation is what I enjoy most—it’s what I wake up for every morning.”