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Thursday, October 5, 2023

SolarSquare to expand its cleantech business in India with Rs 100cr funding

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SolarSquare has secured Rs 100 crore in funding. Among other things, the company will use the money to expand its footprint across the country.

B2C rooftop solar startup, SolarSquare,  has secured Rs 100 crore in a Series A round of funding. Elevation Capital and current investor Lowercarbon — the US-based Chris Sacca’s climate-tech fund led the the round, which also had the participation of other existing investors, including Good Capital, Rainmatter, and angels Vidit Atrey and Sanjeev Barnwal (Meesho).

The current round of funding comes five months after the business secured Rs 30 crore in a seed round sponsored by Good Capital. The cleantech startup, which allows users to install and operate rooftop solar systems, will use the money to expand its footprint across the country over the following 18-24 months. SolarSquare will also utilize the funds to expand its technology stack and provide a more seamless customer experience.

It will also spend in expanding R&D, adding new items to its portfolio, and launching an in-house NBFC to provide loans to residential solar purchasers. The funding will also be used to create consumer and merchant-side apps, as well as powerful back-end technology dashboards that span the customer experience.

SolarSquare mainly intends to use the cash to expand its embedded solar finance proposition in the near future by obtaining an NBFC license. Currently, it provides quick loans for solar roofs through its NBFC partners.

Co-founder Shreya Mishra, said, “We want to begin the application process within the next several months. Having our own NBFC would allow us to give consumers point-of-sale long-term loans, making the product more reasonable and economical. Short-term EMIs for solar rooftop projects are expensive, therefore we want to innovate.”

Installing a solar rooftop plant (usually 3-4 kilowatts) at a residence costs roughly Rs 2 lakh. This one-time cost is difficult, necessitating the requirement for low-cost financing solutions/loans in order for solar roofs to gain traction in India.

The startup currently serves six markets, including Bengaluru, Delhi, Gujarat, Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra, and plans to expand its reach pan-India in the next 18-24 months, in addition to launching two apps for consumers and merchants (installation and sales partners) for monitoring solar electricity generation.

SolarSquare, a commercial rooftop solar solutions company founded in 2015 by IIT Bombay alumnus Neeraj Jain, Shreya Mishra, and former Panasonic CEO Nikhil Nahar, was bootstrapped till 2020. Later, the business chose to shift into the consumer home solar market (B2C), and its first installation would take place in September 2020.

The business purchases rooftop solar panels and inverters from third-party vendors, develops them in-house, and installs them according to user specifications, in addition to providing after-sales service. “It’s similar to IKEA.” The configuration is totally modular and standardised. There is no necessity for various types of roofing. The design is done in-house, and the assembly takes place on the rooftops.

“We were able to cut the overall project installation time from three to five days to no more than eight hours,” the co-founder stated.

The firm charges customers a one-time fee and also supports them in obtaining government incentives. While it can build solar plants ranging from 3 to 50 kilowatts (big villas), about 95% of its demand is for fewer than 10-kilowatt plants, particularly in urban settings.

Shreya says that the firm has sold solar systems to around 5,000 houses. It intends to break even in the next 18-24 months and increase nearly thrice by 2022.

“Solar is now far cheaper and cleaner than digging up and burning ancient dinosaur bones,” said Chris Sacca, startup investor and creator of climate-tech firm Lowercarbon. So installing it on your roof makes perfect sense, especially in a country with as much sun as India. However, having panels installed was not always simple. We backed Shreya, Neeraj, and Nikhil because they figured out how to install hassle-free rooftop solar.”

Mukul Arora, Partner at Elevation Capital, stated, “SolarSquare’s full-stack business model and product innovations deliver a high-quality experience to customers and set the framework for establishing a tech-first home energy brand. The founders’ client devotion and in-depth knowledge in the solar sector position them extremely strongly to become a top firm in the Indian climate tech space.”

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