Since launching last June, ModSolar
facilitated over $5 billion in solar transactions, with thousands of proposals generated every month. Their app helps installers cut down on “soft cost” associated with creating sales, and allows solar companies to pursue more leads. They are designing new product features and hiring developers.
The ModSolar concept came to Mike Dershowitz
, the company’s co-founder and CEO, while investigating solar options for his new home. The former design manager for JPMorganChase, discovered the solar industry was stuck in antiquated methods of appraisal. He got to work building an experimental mobile solution, later used by an emerging sole installer during a home trade show.
“The big [solar] companies generated 15 or 20 leads, but [our client] generated 113 leads by using the iPad app we developed,” Dershowitz says. “At one point there were lines at his booth of people wanting to get a solar quote. We knew that we could apply sales technology to the solar industry and really make an impact.”
“Previously, the sales person would have to visit a home, get up on the roof, take some measurements, do a [solar] panel design, figure out how many [solar] panels they needed—you have to do all this by hand—then [the salesperson] went back to the office, crunched the numbers, and put a proposal together. We've eliminated all that. You can actually do a design for a solar system from your office before you get to the homeowner, pushing the designing and quoting down to the salesperson,” Dershowitz says.
Dershowitz estimates 40 percent of the price of installing solar is “soft costs” or transactions that don’t include parts and labor. He says discrepancies between federal and municipal electric codes and inconsistent building codes contribute to soft costs for American buyers, which is more than double the expense paid in Germany. By comparison, Germany now gets 30 percent of their power from the sun. Soft costs are a major setback to the industry’s domestic growth and our energy future.
ModSolar developed a complex “matching system” that automates current codes, utility rates and financing options for individual sites and has helped small and national companies produce accurate quotes in a third the time. With shorter sales, clients report a 10-20 percent increase in customer acquisition. The number of ModSolar clients and the size of their purchased subscriptions continue to grow.
“With the same amount of resources, [solar installers] can approach more opportunities,” Dershowitz says. “The home improvement industry is ripe for someone to help these folks who may not be digitally oriented, handle their business.”
The company, which recently moved from Malvern to Ardmore, looks forward to releasing finance and e-commerce solutions, including a platform that connects home owners to inventory providers. According to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, photovoltaic installations quadrupled in the United States between 2005 and 2010. With deflating soft costs, and increasing sales, ModSolar is providing disruptive technology that will make solar an increasingly affordable option for years to come.
Source: Mike Dershowitz, ModSolar
Writer: Dana Henry