A recently launched sales app that’s free for solar retailers and installers aimed at getting more solar onto roofs may also help control Australia’s growing problem with substandard solar installation designs and retailing.
The app called OpenSolar claims to be the world’s first free, end-to-end solar enterprise application. It’s white-labelled, meaning that solar outfits use their own branding to present their offerings to customers.
OpenSolar was cofounded by Adam Pryor and Andrew Birch who have both worked in the solar industry for years and are on a mission to fast-track the world’s transition from fossil fuels to solar energy.
The two met when working at Sungevity, a large solar company in the US, which had its own proprietary software tool to offer a quote and system design options without visiting the home.
The pair took all their collective learnings to build a “high impact solution” to what Andrew Birch says is one of the big problems holding back the growth of rooftop solar: lack of awareness.
“Most people around the world don’t know how much they can save with solar,” Birch told The Fifth Estate.
“Our solution creates a really slick, professional representation of how it looks on your roof, and how much it will save you.
“If you are a small installer it takes a lot of resources and a lot of time to get this information together. We give you a turnkey solar solution, and you can present it to your customer in your own brand.”
The app means retailers can rely on a single app to manage their business operations rather than a messy collection of business software and Excel spreadsheets.
“It allows you to put the information in front of more customers.”
It could improve the sophistication of solar operators
Birch believes the app can boost the “sophistication” of offerings provided by solar retailers and installers, which could indirectly improve the growing retailing and installation quality issues rising in prominence in Australia.
He says that the app could have a positive impact on the quality of solar installations as it “codifies best practice” and means operators have access to tools that improve design quality such as intelligent roof mapping.
How it works
The app services the complete end-to-end interaction with a customer, starting with the creation designs of what the solar panels will look like in 3D using touch-based software.
There’s also educational content and financing options available on the platform, as well as online closing and payment functionality.
It includes a configurable end-to-end business management tools to manage customers as the installer prefers, with the ability to easily create branded proposals to send to clients.
The app is designed for use on devices out on the field or in the office.
The company does need to pay the bills and relies on a “freemium” model to make money. The app charges solar manufacturers a fee for bespoke designed content on the platform, with “nice imagery, videos and branding” depending on the amount they are willing to pay.
This offer means their deals show up on the platform professionally rather than in plain text.
“The key mission is that the app is free for installer sand retailers, we think that has the biggest mission impact.”
The founders have spent the past month on beta trials for the privately funded venture before rolling it out to a few different markets, including the Australian market “which is one of the most sophisticated rooftop solar markets in the world.”
The long term plan is to have an impact in Asia and developing countries around the world, Birch says.