The huge value of good solar data – to the market operator, to networks, to the PV industry and to consumers – is starting to be reflected in the market, with OpenSolar luring the investment dollars of one of Australia’s largest venture capital funds in its latest fundraising round.
OpenSolar said last week that it had raised $US15 million in a funding round led by Telstra Ventures, to expand its free online solar design and sales tool to solar contractors who use the platform in more than 130 countries.
The platform allows solar contractors to design a rooftop PV system remotely and give customers accurate projections on how it will perform – including estimated bill savings.
Alongside Telstra Ventures, the funding round attracted participation from sustainability fund 2150 and existing investors including Jeff Tannenbaum’s Titan Grove and solar entrepreneurs Alec Guettel and Howard Wenger.
Co-founded by Adam Pryor and Andrew Birch in Australia in May 2019, OpenSolar’s software now claims to provide the world’s fastest and most accurate PV design and sales platform and to connect contractors to more than 75 providers of hardware, finance and services.
As One Step Off The Grid’s Great Solar Business Podcaster Nigel Morris puts it here, OpenSolar was designed to help solar companies to make better solar, via such services as intelligent roof mapping, hardware comparison tools, product pickers, pricing and cost input options and full branding and quote templates.
On top of that, OpenSolar is a rich source of data, which as this Arena-backed program is discovering can be used to speed up the transition to renewables by providing more rooftop solar energy to the grid – and more bill savings to households who invest in solar and batteries.
Telstra Ventures obviously sees this value in OpenSolar, with fund partner Albert Bielinko describing it as “the world’s leading solar design and sales platform.”
“We are firm believers in this unique business model that’s free to the installer and also highly valuable to hardware and service providers,” said Bielinko in a statement following the fundraising.
“OpenSolar’s clients are raving fans who use their open platform to dramatically increase the number of installations they can perform.
“It lets them achieve more with less,” he said.
In 2020, OpenSolar joined forces with Solar Outlet, which – led by Nick Lake – gives solar businesses access to a broad range of products, from a growing list of suppliers, via an easy to use online ordering platform.
It also teamed up with Australian solar statisticians, SunWiz, to broaden the offering into consulting, customised sales proposals, premium training and support, and market intelligence.
The result, says Bielinko is “an experienced team of all-stars with deep domain expertise who have shown they can execute.”
OpenSolar co-founder and CEO Birch says that having established a leading position in the Australia rooftop PV market, the company is now taking its speed and efficiency to the rest of the world through its software.
“OpenSolar’s mission is to achieve a world powered by sunshine by 2050,” Birch says.
“We are assembling the greatest team of technologists and customer experience specialists in the solar software industry, with the aim of helping contractors sell more solar – and we won’t stop until every compatible roof is generating clean energy to power the electrification revolution.”
Co-founder and CTO Adam Pryor says the company has leveraged around 250 years of combined solar experience within its expanded team, with the platform now supporting more than $US2.5 billion in annual system sales by contractors selling using the platform.
“The world’s transition to solar energy represents one of the greatest wealth creation opportunities in history, and our commitment to help local solar installers participate in that change is stronger than ever,” Pryor says.
“This funding allows us to double down on developing an ever-expanding set of software tools that increase their growth and profitability.
“We look forward to providing greater levels of customization, and new capabilities to help electrify homes and businesses.”
Rahul Parekh, principal at investment firm 2150 says OpenSolar meets his company’s goal of backing technologies with the potential to benefit billions of people, create value, and slash emissions.
“We believe that OpenSolar’s platform can proliferate and bend the curve of solar adoption around the world,” Parekh says.
The latest financing round brings OpenSolar’s total funding to date to $25 million.