Building the ‘Apple’ of Solartech
Nov 25, 2022
To build a successful tech company, we’re told you need three fundamentals - a talented founding team, a pioneering product and great market timing.
Since our launch, we can proudly say we’ve been grateful to have all three. But more important than that is our mission, our ‘north star’. We want to become the ‘Apple’ of solartech - creating innovative high-quality products that get businesses and homeowners excited about using solar energy while decarbonising the built environment.
In just a few short years, we’ve made significant progress. From delivering high profile installations like Cotswold Airport, starting a new project with a 2nd sports stadium to major R&D developments on our first portable’ solar sculpture for consumers, and hiring ex-Canon marketing and sales veteran Rob Thomas as our Head of Growth.
Yet, little did we know that 2022 would present one of our biggest opportunities for growth. The rising fallout from climate change coupled with the ongoing energy crisis is forcing homeowners and businesses alike to rethink their reliance on the grid. Many are increasingly driven to create and control their own energy supply and bills with renewable energy like solar.
For Solivus, while it's an exciting time to grow our business and further our mission, we know we’ve still got a long journey ahead - one we can’t complete without the ongoing support of our customers, investors and supporters. As we continue to expand our capabilities in ops, engineering, marketing and growth, we want to celebrate some key milestones we’ve reached this year:
1. We’re creating new products
This year has cemented the market need for lightweight solar on unused rooftops. Currently, 40% of commercial buildings like warehouses, data centers and stadiums have roofs that cannot use conventional solar panels due to weight or fixing issues. That’s what led us to installing lightweight solar on these vast rooftops. We’ve been targeting vertical sectors that will really benefit from rooftop solar that is ten times lighter than conventional solar - these include airports, stadiums, logistics and cold stores which have sites with large roofs that cannot support the weight of heavy photo-voltaic solar panels.
This year, we’ve seen exciting developments in the R&D of our first solar sculpture for consumers - the Solivus Arc. This first of its kind portable unit, which can provide energy for homes & EVs for a guaranteed 20 years, is now in the Design for Manufacture stage. Our CEO Jo Parker Swift and Product Manager Amy Lambourne spent time at the Heliatek factory this summer to discuss product developments designed to optimise the Arc’s performance for maximum energy production.
Amid the energy crisis, we’ve identified the urgent need for plug-and-play consumer solar solutions that don't need scaffolding, look more stylish than traditional solar and can travel with the homeowner when they move to a new house. In fact, keen to cover this unique innovation, in March the Solivus Arc was featured by BBC ‘Click. Customers also praised the Arc at our first 'in the flesh’ exhibit at the Ideal Home Show in April.
We’ve got exciting plans in place to manufacture the Solivus Arc in the UK. We’ve set up a long-term testing site with the Cambridge Design Partnership and are potentially considering a London showroom where customers can see the Arc before they buy. Looking ahead, we’re keen to roll out the Arc to promising markets including the US State of California and the UAE, which is due to host the next UN climate talks in November 2023.
2. Our revenues have grown
In 2022, Solivus grew its revenue base. Scaling two business models (commercial and consumer) side by side is ambitious for any high-growth startup but we can now reveal that our average deal value for rooftop solar solution is £750,000 and we have generated strong pre-orders for the Solivus Arc.
With a growing pipeline for 2023, we’re on target to secure £10m worth of rooftop installations. Our Head of Growth, Rob Thomas has been focusing on the rooftop installations targeting vertical sectors with sites harbouring roofs larger than 2,000m2, with consistent energy demand but that are unable to support the weight of heavy solar panels.
In fact, at a time when the solar industry, like many others, is struggling with supply chain disruptions, we’ve secured access to a solar supply worth up to £180m in rooftop installations for 2023 alone. This has the potential to produce an output of 150 MW in green energy.
Meanwhile on the consumer front, we’ve been able to secure a healthy pre-order queue of nearly 600 for the Solivus Arc with very little advertising - we expect orders to increase significantly once this launches next year amid rising demand for designer solar products.
3. We’re working on some really cool projects
Testament to its disruptive potential, 2022 saw our rooftop solar solutions utilised on several high-profile projects. We’ve been working with Northampton Saints Rugby club to turn previously unusable roof-space into a solar energy asset by installing a lightweight solar system. As a result, we’ve been recommended to a second sports stadium which we’ll reveal very soon.
Meanwhile, we’ve recently completed phase one of a world-first solar project that will help Cotswold Airport become carbon neutral by 2050 while powering a new generation of hydrogen-electric aircrafts - fitting lightweight solar to four of its hangars. This has led to rising interest from other airports around the country and we have now secured our second airport.
These projects have helped us prove product market fit among our core customers - enabling us to build systems to allow us to scale the delivery of major solar projects. We’re able to provide commercial customers with an all-in-one service that includes engineering, design, installation, maintenance and financing options that enables customers to pay in installments. We’re also entering into long-term operations and maintenance contracts, creating a recurring and growing revenue stream as our installation base grows.
In terms of upcoming projects, our solar tech solutions are opening up new markets as seen from the pilot we are currently working on with one a construction giant who are working on towards a very ambitious sustainability agenda focussed on decarbonising construction processes. We’re also in talks with a major warehouse builder, two prominent asset managers and a premier league football stadium.
We’ve received industry recognition as a leading climate tech company when Solivus was selected first for Tech Nation’s Net Zero 2.0 programme designed for early-stage companies and then subsequently for their Net Zero X programme for the next stage of growth; the Department for International Trade's Green Builders of Tomorrow which saw CEO & Founder Jo Parker-Swift invited to speak at a World Energy Conference in Dubai; and London & Partners Business Growth Programme where Solivus was invited to join a trade mission to Slush, a leading startup event in held in Finland each year.
And finally…we’ve grown the Solivus family
Like every business, we’re only as strong as our team. Our Solivus team spirit means we’re incredibly passionate about decarbonising the planet with clean energy.
We’re led by CEO Jo Parker-Swift, an experienced founder who has previously created, scaled and exited two businesses. Our COO Matt Black, a solar veteran who is currently the chair of Solar Energy UK, has been instrumental in growing our team this year from 12 to 19 ready to scale our solutions.
This includes adding a stellar team of experienced operators; engineers Lewis Meads and Dani Shmait; our Head of Growth Rob Thomas, who joined the Solivus mission after forging a hugely successful career at Canon; Operations Administrator Spike Potter-Clark; and Site Manager Craig Tewley, who brings with him over 15 years of experience in renewable energy.
We’ve also appointed Chair James Bulley OBE, who was part of the team responsible for delivering the London 2012 Olympics and board advisor Juliet Davenport OBE, the founder and ex-CEO of the UK’s first 100% renewable electricity supplier Good Energy.
Our goal is to prevent 1 million tonnes of CO2 from being pumped into the atmosphere by helping businesses and homes to make the switch to solar energy.
To help us achieve this, we’re currently fundraising on Seedrs. In 2023, we want to focus on expanding our customer base and exploring new partnerships. We’ll need a cracking team of engineers and operators to deliver our ambitious mission and that’s why most of this funding will be used to grow the Solivus family.
As solar energy continues to shift from a once niche technology to a central pillar of the clean energy system - we believe Solivus will, one day, become a household name in helping homes and businesses transition to solar. As always, we’re thankful to you for being part of our journey.