This Solar Rooftop Company Is Using IoT To Make a Mark
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“When we were brainstorming on sectors to get in, we realized that electricity expense was a huge monthly outflow on all Indian households, and this, combined with our experience of huge electricity outages in our childhood in the towns of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh made us dig deeper into the problem,” says Pranesh Chaudhary, co-founder and chief executive officer of ZunRoof.
ZunRoof is among a handful of companies in India that have ventured into the solar rooftop space with its own suite of Internet of Things-enabled devices and services. The four-year-old company, backed by the family office of conglomerate Godrej, is already present in over 75 cities across 12 states in the country.
Chaudhary believes challenges are inevitable for any start-up and in their case, creating a category of home-tech products and services for house owners is by definition a hard business to build. “We had to educate the customers rather than sell to them,” he says.
Bootstrapped for the first two years, the company focused on creating a trustworthy and scalable distribution network of supply, while also ensuring positive unit economics.
Using Tech To Unlock Customers
According to Chaudhary, customers need to visualize how their empty roof will look post solar installation prior to finalizing design and the virtual reality setup in the app does it seamlessly. The same mobile application also has image processing of the roof and electricity consumption analysis, therefore helping the house owner have a complete overview.
“Most importantly, for the 25 years of our system at one’s roof, we use our own IoT devices to help monitor and diagnose the system remotely - thereby reducing panicked customer calls as well as maintenance costs and providing right alerts to keep the customer connected,” he says.
To ensure business continuity during the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, the company has shifted to video calls for solar site assessments. Chaudhary says the company is also coming up with off-grid solar products to provide reliable electricity supply back-ups to deal with the increase in demand as more and more people work from home.
On plans going forward, he says expansion of distribution channels is something that they are working on, and that the company aims to soon be operational in four more states. To expand the scope of affordability, ZunRoof also recently launched a monthly payment plan.
Is there a path to profitability? Chaudhary says the company aims to post profits in fiscal 2022 while ensuring the growth is as rapid as it is now.
“As long as you have a product that genuinely solves a real-life problem, profitability, however difficult, is still achievable. A lot of entrepreneurs do not think of pricing as a moat and leave money on the table. We have always looked at it differently and at the same time, been crazy about not having any flab,” he says.