The global solar industry continues to expand rapidly. Within this growing market, innovative entrepreneurs and companies have emerged seeking to capitalize on the changing ways in which we create and use energy. The Australia solar market is one of the most mature in the world and already hosts more than 1.5 million solar power systems.
We continue our series on world beating Australian and Asian entrepreneurs by speaking to Mounesh Badiger who is the founder and director of Solar E-CRM. Solar eCRM has evolved into the fastest selling enterprise wide Solar Business Management system across Australia. The company is also the pioneer of the MySolar toolkit which it has recently started licensing around Australia.
MySolar Toolkit is an Advanced Tool that helps you design a solar system for your property. It also suggests a system for you according to your bills and tells you about the benefits and savings you can make with solar power.
Thanks for speaking to us Mounesh. Firstly, what brought you into the world of Solar technology and management? Can you tell us a bit about your background and career?
A long way back in the early 80s there was a Global Oil Crisis and while studying Mechanical Engineering at the National Institute of Technology Karnataka (NITK) we set up our own “energy club”. We used to build model solar cookers amongst many other solar products! That is how came to the world of solar.
Later on, when the Australian market boomed in 2009, we were already well positioned in the the market with the best products and IT practices. This helped us to both survive the ups and downs in a highly turbulent industry and also keep customers satisfied.
What triggered the idea for Solar E-CRM? What were some of the challenges you faced in getting the business to where it is today?
I had many years of experience working with US corporations in India and Hong Kong. I was building business systems for many countries in APAC. This IT background helped us to start developing business software for our solar business as there were no readily available platforms. This evolved in to a comprehensive enterprise platform. We named it Solar eCRM (enterprise wide Customer Relationship Management).
Many solar companies liked what we built and Solar eCRM R & D Pty Ltd was created as a separate entity. It now sells a suite of products internationally along with exciting new extensions such as MySolarToolkit.
We had numerous challenges, most originated from the unstable solar industry. At the same time, instability has led to deep fragmentation of the industry. There were just a handful solar companies in 2009, now there are hundreds in every city! Thanks to our exceptional IT architects and developers, we have been able to build a very simple to use, effective and deployable platform we are very proud of.
What geographic markets does Solar-E-CRM focus on? What makes it different from other software and CRM provider?
Australia has been the first market. Later on we added many versions targeting India, US and even a Hungarian language version. We currently have customers and prospects from many countries such as South Africa, New Zealand, UK, Switzerland, India and many more.
The fact is that Australia is the most mature and tough roof top solar industry. This creates its ups and downs as well as opportunities. The industry requires software that services varying needs and many diverse companies and users. It needs to encompass the peculiarities of solar from leads management, right up to installation, post installation, rebates and claim process management.
In a comprehensive product comparison that appeared last year in the US Solar Magazine, our product was mentioned as the most process oriented and most cost effective alternative to Salesforce. Others were considered proposal oriented platforms. No country has seen the full cycle and multiple cycles of Solar industry ups and downs as Australia. Because of this, our product mirrors the maturity of the industry and stands apart from other fancy proposal writing platforms.
What stage of development is the business in? What are its key strengths? How has this evolved since you began running Solar E-CRM?
In Australia we already have a mature, proven product that can help any kind of solar business in the SME sector but we continue to develop innovative extensions to the platform.
In other countries we are still at early stages of adaptation. Overseas markets are still evolving with a variety of issues and complexities. In India we are well liked by professional solar companies. We expect to make rapid progress there. In other countries we expect uptake in a gradual fashion based on our available resources.
The maturity of the Australian solar industry is unparalleled. This maturity is reflected in our product strength. Our key strength also includes a low cost development and support model, which will help us grow organically for many years in the future. The evolution of the product is breathtaking. We understand the pain points of the SME solar sector well and are able to extend and advance the offerings much better than we had anticipated.
Where do you see the business in a year from now? What are your strategic priorities?
We would like to see MST (MySolarToolkit) used globally by millions of people in the next 1 to 3 years. This will also be an income and job generating platform for millions of people globally. I personally see this platform as even helping many in rural India to be gainfully employed in the fastest growing global mega industry.
Solar is already known to be bigger than the internet and mobile industries combined (Ref to JA Solar President’s speech at ALL Energy Expo last year).
Solar is the buzz word around the world. It will keep getting bigger in India and around the world. We are uniquely positioned and our immediate priority is to establish a home base in Australia as well as new markets India. If we are able to crack US market this year that will be a bonus!
What major industry trends do you think entrepreneurs in your sector need to be aware of? How will Solar eCRM capitalize on these trends?
Empowering your salesforce and customers is a major industry trend in many industries. Customers like to buy and do not like to be sold to. This is a big shift in how businesses are grown. All business and entrepreneurs need to be aware of this. Solar eCRM and more so MST actually do this better than any platform so solar companies using MST and eCRM will naturally be ahead in the most competitive solar industry.
You recently announced that MySolar Toolkits would be available for licensing. In simple terms, what is the MySolar Toolkit?
It is a tool that solar companies can offer to its prospects, customers, sales teams, lead generation teams to gain exceptional advantage over competition. It encourages even the most uninitiated (to solar and its benefits) to be engaged and learn and even get excited about solar and its benefits very specific to their property or roof.
MySolarToolkit and its new version is admired all around the world. It is one of the world’s first tools to educate home and roof owners interactively and privately about the solar benefits specific to their situation. Solar companies love the way it improves productivity and conversion of sales, and also brands them as market leaders.
It also allows people or businesses to harness their network of contacts, associates, colleagues, and friends and fellow members to educate them of solar benefits and thus generate new income from their existing resource or network, with no selling or compulsion.
As seen in Rotary clubs or NGOs or even in schools, the toolkit is also a great platform for fund raising for much needed community development. All they do is publish the link on their website or emails and newsletters and when fellow members use the toolkit to confirm their interest in going solar, the publisher or the toolkit licensee generates income or a contribution to their cause.
Who are the licenses being offered to?
To basically any one from solar companies, to business brokers and mortgage brokers to rotary clubs to sports clubs and schools and any individual or businesses or groups.
What further opportunities are there for a new license owner to grow the business?
The SUN IS THE LIMIT! It goes beyond the SKY IS THE LIMIT. It has no boundaries. Push the link far and wide. When the Licensee gets traction and starts to generate pool of interested solar customers, there will be enough takers to pay and reward the leads.
This can also be a stepping stone for the licensee to become a solar company.
There are virtually millions of traders who aspire to be solar guys and want to have a slice of the vast solar rooftop market. Licensing MST and then Solar eCRM brands them immediately as a professional solar company.
What’s the most interesting part of your job? What’s the most interesting part about owning a MySolar Toolkit License?
I love the reaction to MST when someone sees the demo and when they get a glimpse of the potential to make money.
Thanks for your time Mounesh.
About MySolar Toolkit
MySolar Toolkit is an Advanced Tool that help you design a Solar System for your property. It also suggests a system for you according to your bills, tell you about the benefits and savings you can make with Solar.