Software Makes Boosting Solar Sales a Simple AffairBy Cas Biekmann | Fri, 08/21/2020 - 12:24
Q: How did Sunwise get started in Mexico’s competitive solar sector and what solutions do you provide?
A: I started developing solar software in 2011 while working for my father’s company, Exel Solar. The software is called Ecotiza, which plugs in all regulations, rates and other rules to deliver a correct solar quote. This software was something I found both the passion and the market to elaborate down the road, but Exel Solar was focused on wholesaling software and solutions. In 2016, I decided to adapt this software completely to the needs of solar installers, making an integral software that generates quotes for them and keeps track of other factors. The first version of Sunwise was released that year but did not yield success. The reason was because we bought software from another company to serve as a basis, which turned out to be difficult to scale up. In 2019, I hired a new development team to start Sunwise all over again. In September of that year, we launched our platform on Android, iOS and on the web. This version is now a success.
Q: How does the platform work and who are its ideal users?
A: We built Sunwise for professional solar installers that are looking to scale, eliminating the learning curve for sales representatives with the need to generate quick and precise proposals. Our competition is Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheets combined with Dropbox or equivalent tools. Companies often use different tools in combination lacking efficiency, precision and personalization. There is no other system as integrated as Sunwise. We target installers that have trouble scaling up because they have not streamlined their sales processes. If a Solar Installers takes longer than a minute to generate a Solar Personalized Quote, Sunwise is there to help.
Q: What does the platform offer in terms of functionalities?
A: Installers have various tools at their disposal. A sales person is able to create contacts. Within the contact’s page, different projects can be created. If you go into a project, you can access our CFE’s rate system clone for energy consumption. This is the first clone that we are aware of and was challenging to create. However, issuing a quote becomes a simple process once you have a company’s service number. The energy data is loaded into a proposal where clients can enter various other factors for personalization such as colors, pictures, graphs, tables, tags, and company logos. The client provides the system specific information and the platform knows exactly what type of technology will be used, such as inverters, racking, BOM. With the CFE’s rate system plus our Proposal Engine, we basically create a digital copy of the assumed future economics for the Photovoltaic System in that specific roof. The only assumption that we make is how much energy can be generated. We will never really know how much light the sun will emit, after all.
If the location of the project is known, the program is able to create a design of what the project will look like from the roof as well. Regarding financing, SunPay is integrated, which is not a financier in itself but is our engine for finance companies. Today, CIBanco is our main financier on the platform. All their products are plugged in straight to the platform and each installer can also add their own financial products. Proposals are personalized, based on accurate data and can be generated in seconds. We attempt to take out the hassle for installers of having to use Excel or do their own coding. As a result, we are part of the “no-code movement” but to get to that point you have to do a lot of coding beforehand. All of this is available as an app, for which we provide technical support and training.
Q: How does the company work to continuously improve its software?
A: We do this through various channels. One of these is applied through the sales process. Clients often specify that having a certain functionality integrated would convince them to buy the software. We also work on inquiries that come through our support team. As the product owner, I decide on what functionality to focus next. The company has three programming teams, so we can focus on three projects at the same time. We try to make the software as scalable as possible for installers, with as many features as we can incorporate. Sunwise does have a roadmap of where it wants to take this software, but we adapt and incorporate elements based on what the customer wants.
Q: How do you assess the DG market’s potential for growth considering current energy policies and the pandemic?
A: For the past two years, risk in Mexico’s energy sector has increased drastically. We know that the government turned its attention to utility-scale projects first. The government has recently turned its attention to distributed generation and I think this will continue for a while. DG has not been considered a threat to the government’s goal of strengthening CFE. All of our developments in the software take the Mexican market as a basis. Nevertheless, the software can work in any other market. However, the rate structure today works specifically for CFE.
This year, we are working in Mexico to completely finish our software sales campaigns. There are only some minor aspects that need to be finalized. Once we finish the suite, we will start to focus on other Latin American markets and perhaps the US. Mexico’s heightened risk factor has definitely made us adapt our roadmap drastically. Since you cannot code a new function into the platform that fast, we plan ahead to make sure our clients can continue using the platform. For this reason, we invest in various scenarios. Such is the case of battery storage integration, in case the government halts interconnection for instance.
Sunwise is a Yucatan-based company providing software that facilitates the sale of solar solutions for installers for the residential, commercial and industrial distributed generation segments.