Meet the Flipsters

Conversations on the Bridge

A Conversation with Andrew Beebe
(The complete Flip interview, with only minor edits, not found in the book)

Andrew Beebe made a name for himself as the founder of Bigstep (, an innovative, award-winning company helping small businesses to network and compete online. On the heels of that success, Andrew became a partner in the energy consulting firm Clean Edge. He is currently president of Energy Innovations (, a leader in the development of cost-effective solar technology and one of the largest manufacturers of solar panels. Andrew serves on the board of Global Green ( and the Apollo Alliance (, a multi-disciplinary coalition dedicated to helping America make the flip to renewable energy sources.

We asked Andrew whether the leap from Internet technology to solar technology was representative of his personal flip. “I’ve been trying to change the world since I got out of school in ’93. I actually started in Washington, in politics. But I soon jumped ship and moved to San Francisco. I worked at different software companies and then started Bigstep – which I thought of as really leveling the playing field for small businesses and changing that aspect of the world. Looking back, that was my first attempt at applying technology to new markets for the betterment of humanity. From there, I turned to renewable energy technology. I felt like that was the next big wave, like the Internet before it.”

Andrew sees other parallels between the emergence of the Internet and solar power: “Power today is centralized and controlled by the few, simply because that was what it took to build an affordable, reliable infrastructure for the planet. Luckily for the world, distributive generation is now coming of age, making it possible for people to meet their own power needs. Just like the untapped computer power on our desks prior to the Internet, we all have latent energy power on our roofs, just being turned into heat and waste. Capture that energy and bring it into your house, and you might actually be able to power the whole thing.”

Is that possible with today’s technology? “Sure. We’re reaching the tipping point in terms of profitable markets for solar. It has already started to take off. The markets almost expand on their own, because as the volume goes up, costs go down, which further stimulates demand and expands applicability. The marketplace has grown thirty three percent a year for ten years; it’s the fastest growing segment on the planet. It was a seven billion dollar market last year. On a per-kilowatt basis, the commercial markets dominate. But residential is growing.

“California is something like eighty percent of the U.S. market, followed by New Jersey and New York. That’s most of the market, primarily because subsidies are greatest on those states. But in the next five years, I believe solar will be cost-effective in most states – for residential and commercial use – on its own accord, without rebates.

“Energy is a two trillion dollar business worldwide. It’s the largest market in the world by far. It’s bigger than food. That’s because most food takes a lot of energy. Roughly half of that energy picture is transportable fuels like oil. So only a trillion is electricity. But there is no reason solar can’t be ten, twenty, maybe thirty percent of that market. In fact, one aim of the Apollo Alliance is its “20/20 Goal” – for twenty percent of America’s energy sources to be renewable by the year 2020. It’s doable.”

Is America’s current investment in electrical production and distribution an asset or a liability? “It’s both. On the plus side, America’s power grid is the best battery in the world. It’s a nice safety net to have. But in India or China, where power grids are limited or unavailable, we expect even faster growth for solar power. It’s analogous to the growth of cell phones in developing nations. If you haven’t already strung those miles of cable, why would you invest in them now, when there’s a better alternative? Ironically, the return on solar investment actually increases the less conventional infrastructure a country already has. The cost to fuel a kerosene lamp in rural India, for example, is fifty times the cost of burning an electric bulb in the United States. So they’re willing to pay a lot more for solar there than we are here.”

Many major suppliers of conventional fuels and power are touting their investments in solar research these days. Does that make it difficult for a start-up to compete? “Quite the contrary. You don’t need to be a nation state to succeed in solar. In fact, the established players tend to be so entrenched in their traditional paradigms that the real innovations in both technology and distribution are coming from the start-ups.”

Can the world – and especially America – make the flip fast enough? “Global warming is a real issue, and greenhouse gasses are a real issue; carbon is a real issue, and coal burning is bad for the environment, and natural gas and liquification of natural gas are unpleasant things. We’ve seen this movie before and it’s grim. I feel a dire need to get this work done and get alternative energy sources out there for the good of the entire planet. This is a very holistic mission.”


The Flip, by Jared Rosen and David Rippe, illuminates a clear path to a vibrant enlightened world where millions of people already live and thrive. It describes in vivid detail and real examples evidence of an upside down world in decay and a Right Side Up world of authentic beings bright with possibility.
The Flip is an owner’s manual for the twenty-first century full of insights, conversations with recognized experts, thought leaders, and visionaries, and actionable exercises and tips you can use to begin your own personal flip.

To read more about The Flip and additional interviews from other luminaries, experts and bestselling authors, please visit

The Flip is available at your local bookstore or online at, Barnes & Noble, Joseph-Beth, and Borders.


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