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1Mby1M Incubation Radar 2017: Simplify Solar, Houston, TX

Posted on Thursday, Nov 30th 2017

Simplify Solar is an end-to-end platform solution that enables long tail contractors, roofers, and dealers to sell solar energy solutions to their existing customer base. It is a one-click solar business that provides lead generation, financing, design, procurement, and installation services through a white-labeled platform.

Simplify Solar was founded by Roy Joseph and Sohail Hussain in 2013. Roy had started his first company SolarSyz in 2010 and recorded revenues of over $500K in less than 2 years. SolarSyz packaged and sold solar products and design services to homeowners and installers. Simplify Solar came into existence when his customers started asking to connect with installers. As such, there is significant domain knowledge in the company within the Solar space.

Roy then got together with Sohail who had deep experience in managing software teams and his own energy efficiency company, which developed tools for consumers to create and manage a Green Project and calculate their energy efficiency using a proprietary calculator.

At that time, existing SaaS solutions offered specific services to solar installers in the market. These include lead generators such as Energy Sage, Pick my Solar, and Project Sunroof; sales/CRM tools Sighten and Solar Graf, design services Aurora and Sighten; Dividend, Admirals, and SunGage that provide financing options; and installer network Energy Sage.

Solar is a complex sale to homeowners because of home suitability and financing issues as well as a lack of trustworthy installers. Further, existing solar-platform-based companies target the existing solar installer base, which limits their ability to reach the masses of customers who want solar energy for their homes. Thus, there is an untapped network of hundreds of thousands of home service providers like roofers, contractors, and realtors who are already selling high ticket items to customers. Tapping into this channel is Simplify Solar’s key differentiator.

Simplify Solar taps this untapped network by providing contractors, roofers, and HVAC companies with a white-labeled sales platform and conversion landing page to offer solar as part of its portfolio. It provides them with all essential tools to upsell, cross-sell, and close a sale. It then acts as a back office for them, by doing design and procurement services as well as providing an installer network.

In 2016, Simplify Solar secured a pilot project with a major REP to deploy 80 residential rooftop solar systems for its customers. Eight months later, after deploying 30 systems through contractors, the founders realized that the product they had built could work very well for long-tail contractors and installers in the market. They then made the strategic decision to pivot and focus on serving the contractors in the space.

Simplify Solar’s go-to-market strategy includes reaching key decision makers by attending conferences, trade shows, and workshops, cold calling, email marketing, becoming part of LinkedIn groups and trade organizations, and providing training and home improvement podcasts. Its channel partner acquisition cost is $461.25. The beauty of the model is that each channel partner initiates a relationship with a very large customer lifetime value of over $250k.

Simplify Solar currently makes money via monthly subscription fees of $50-$100 for its white-labeled platform, lead generation for contractors for which it charges $50-$150 per lead, and coordinating design and procurement services for closed projects for which it charges $2500 – 4000/sale.

The company is currently in the revenue stage with gross revenue of $710K and net revenue of $200K. It has signed on 25 contractors and has done 29 home installations. In 2018, it promises to deliver significant acceleration in its business as the already active contractors start producing at capacity.

According to a National Renewable Energy Labs study, there are 17.8 million US homes in the 300-700K range, out of which 30% or 5.3 million are Solar Suitable homes. Based on the company’s average revenue estimate of $3,000 per install and assuming that its target segment of roofers and contractors can capture one-third of the total solar suitable homes, its TAM is $5.3 billion.

Simplify Solar currently has a core focus on the Texas metros and intends to expand in metros in California, Florida, Utah, South Carolina, and Nevada in due course. The Texas market is quite large and has a TAM of over $250 million.

Simplify Solar has so far raised $75K from friends and family, $25K in grant money, and $425K in seed funding.

This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Incubation Radar 2017

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