Company: Solar Universe
Source: Greentech Media
What’s the best way to establish a nationwide network of solar installers?
SolarCity has taken the tack of hiring and training its own installers.
Sungevity signs contracts directly with customers and oversees its projects, but outsources the actual installation to third-party installers.
Solar Universe, which raised $7 million from Rockport Capital and others in a second round of financing, approaches this process through the franchise model. It seeks out contractors that want to get into solar, trains them, and then provides them with software, branding and sales leads. The customer gets a standardized, arguably more reliable initiation into solar, the electrician enters a new market and Solar Universe gets a portion of the revenue from each job in the form of a royalty payment.
Solar Universe also likes to secure volume discounts on inverters and panels for its franchisees. The company has 21 franchisees, up from zero in early 2008, and hopes to expand to 45 or 46 this year, said CEO and founder Joe Bono. (A former software exec, Bono also owned some Quizno’s outlets in the Bay Area in a previous life.)
“Mostly they are electricians, roofers and contractors who are intrigued with solar and have always wanted to get into it,” he said.