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Yi started Renogy in 2010. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Renogy?
I first came to the U.S. after my acceptance into Louisiana State University’s Ph.D. program for Physics.
While I was excited at the prospect of my new life here, it was also a very overwhelming experience. I had little command of the English language, and I was alone in a foreign country. No family, no friends, no support system, and no money—I still remember thinking that a five-dollar burger was too expensive.
I didn't have much with me. There were, however, two things I had in abundance that helped me persevere: my love of science, and my ambition to make a positive impact on society.
> Be mentally prepared to make a lot of mistakes. Mistakes are bound to happen, but you cannot let that intimidate you. In the early stages of my business, I had accepted a bad check and lost $260,000.
During my studies, I participated in a research project related to alternative energy and superconductivity. Through this opportunity, I discovered solar and all its possibilities. Solar power had the potential to change the world, and I wanted to make a difference—I could see my passion for taking a more concrete form.
Many people still didn't have reliable power, even with technological advances. The detrimental effects of non-sustainable power sources on the environment had yet to be fully addressed. Solar felt like an untapped solution to both problems. Yet, when I spoke about solar, many people were intimidated despite their interest. Solar had not marketed as an accessible utility. It became clear to me that the challenge, then, was to educate and make solar easy to understand for the average consumer. It needed to be an obvious solution for those looking to fulfill their energy needs. Thus, came Renogy—a shorthand for Renewable Innovative Energy—a small operation out of my apartment during my third year at LSU.