Why we spent over a million dollars and 2 years on building our own software so you don't have to

Why we spent over a million dollars and 2 years on building our own software so you don't have to

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On its face, Ipsun Solar is no different than most other solar companies out there.

We are a local installer doing a few hundred projects a year, mostly residential with some light commercial work.

We employ around 60 people and ride the same solarcoaster as everyone else, wondering what carrots or sticks might come up next.

We are passionate about our work and get up every day trying to meet our mission: fight climate change.

What it took 6 years in business for us to realize is that beyond the U.S. solar industry being a notoriously difficult place to do business (relative to our friends down under).

We don’t exactly own the homeowner relationship in the way we could.

There are lots of folks in the solar industry vying to own that customer relationships:

  • module & inverter manufacturers
  • finance companies
  • sales & lead generation companies
  • third-party branded customer portals

and others.

But at the end of the day, it’s the local solar installer that actually meets the homeowner, educates them on the value of solar, and ultimately sells, designs, permits, installs, handles inspections and turns on their system.

But when we turn on their system, we almost always send them to a third party to monitor their system.

So why would they remember who installed their system years later?

If you ask a random solar customer after some time has passed the most likely answer is: Enphase, SolarEdge, ... I don't remember?

Naturally we put our logo and brand on our trucks, uniforms or yard signs. Forgetting that our customers only see these things at best a handful of times, while they open their smartphones almost religiously multiple times per day.

Similarly, solar installers are forced to work in an incoherent tech stack that piles so high and creates so much redundancy, that our Project Managers are forced to reenter the homeowner’s information over and over and over again.

We counted over 10 different platforms where we have to always enter the same information like homeowner’s name, address, and contact information, among other common solar fields.

Think about the lost productivity that brings with it.

If you sell 300 systems a year and your employees need to enter the same information into 10 different places which takes them 10 minutes each (including time lost in context switching):

That's almost 1 month of 24/7 work in lost productivity just for repetitive work like entering customer information into different IT systems!

It's 2023. Nobody enjoys doing that. And why would they if we can have computers do the boring and repetitive work instead?

White Label Customer Portal

Sunvoy was developed to help local solar installers build their brand equity and reduce their cost of acquisition, thereby furthering their mission of installing solar on every rooftop in their communities.

Sunvoy makes ownership of the customer relationship clear, so that each time a solar homeowner checks their project status, refers a friend, looks up their project documents, makes a payment, or opens a maintenance ticket, they are doing it in a 100% whitelabel branded platform that looks like it was built by their solar installer, for them.

These other third party providers have usually nothing to sell homeowners, and reinforcing their brand does nothing to reduce the cost of acquisition of the people that are on the frontline.

By building the brand equity of local installers, more referrals will be generated and the solar movement will grow faster than ever.

We actually saw this with Ipsun Solar, where we increased referrals for 284% for two years in a row since we have introduced Sunvoy.

Referral Growth with Sunvoy

Additionally, before Sunvoy there was no way for solar installers to maintain their entire fleet of solar systems in one place.

They had to monitor systems in multiple platforms on multiple websites, with multiple alert systems and multiple displays.

Sunvoy brings your entire solar array fleet into one system, with a universal map view that is filterable and sortable. It ties all of it together with a powerful automation platform that enables you to save your employees time so they can focus on actually enjoyable work.

Solar Fleet Map View

You can check on system status, estimated to actual performance, and see all the system details from size, number of panels, and number of batteries, as well as customer contact information, directly within the Sunvoy desktop application or Sunvoy app.

What we noticed is that our employees quickly preferred using Sunvoy for searching for systems, as it is blazing fast and if you need extra information the actual inverter portal is only a click away.

The above is true no matter if you are looking at an individual system or troubleshooting an O&M Ticket. Imagine if you finally have the correct context information next to a maintenance ticket.

O&M Tickets

Having everything together in a single place doesn't just make the job easier for your employees, but brings as well all kind of automation opportunities with it. Do you know of an app that can automatically create a new ticket for your O&M Department when the inverter status changes? Or a system suddenly produces less or stops altogether without throwing any meaningful inverter error?

All while integrating tightly with all of your favorite apps you and your team is already using in their day to day work?

Integrations

The reason that these features have never existed before in any other form is simple:

There has never been a solar software that was built by a solar installer for other solar installers.

We run and operate a solar company ourselves, so we know the exact pain points.

We know the importance of emphasizing our solar EPC brand because we live it every day.

And while you are focused on your core business, we live and breath increasing customer and employee satisfaction through customer experience every day.

Sunvoy is evolving rapidly with real feedback from solar homeowners, our Ipsun Solar staff, and dozens of other top national solar companies already on the platform.

It will continue to evolve to make all of our businesses stronger, help us to grow faster, and highlight the only real brand that matters to our customers.

From "aha" to "oh crap", we’re sharing everything on our journey to install 1,000 kW in residential solar per month.

We’re learning a lot and so will you.

Avg. monthly kW installed in past year:

0 kW250 kW500 kW750 kW1,000 kW

Real time metrics bysunvoy

written byHervé BillietCEOHerve is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ipsun Solar – a top residential solar installer in Washington DC with 60+ employees and $10M+ in annual revenue.Read more »
Hervé Billiet

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