When you are considering buying solar panels, one of the first questions you will ask is how much energy will they generate and how much money will you save? Novasole, a startup based in The Hague, has developed an innovative solution to address these questions. But how do you find customers for such an innovative product? And as the startup grows when will it be time to invite investors on board? Below are some tips from Novasole’s founders Menno Zonderland and Roel Pronk.
The incline of your roof, its size and orientation, the type of solar panel, these are some of the many factors that determine the amount of energy your solar panels will produce. Novasole has developed a software product, ‘Dakscan’, that takes all these factors into account and calculates exactly how much sun your roof will get and how much money you can save. ‘There are similar software tools but ours is the first and only in the Netherlands with an ISSO quality certification+,’ the founders proudly say.
The Hague, a CO2-neutral city
A combination of opportunity and ideals inspired Roel and Menno to start their solar business. ‘Cities like The Hague are ideal for solar energy: there are many flat roofs and many hours of sunlight. ‘If all residents in The Hague use solar panels on their roof, we can make The Hague’s goal, to become a CO2-neutral city by 2040, a reality,’ Roel says.
Talking, exploring and developing
Finding new customers for such an innovative software product involves a lot of exploring for markets including unexpected ones like banks. ‘Banks offer loans to solar parks but need to make a calculation to see if revenue will match the loan being asked for,’ the founders explain. A lot of time is invested in continuously adapting the software. ‘When we meet a customer with special demands, we try to update the software to accommodate them. In this way, we attract more customers,’ Menno explains.
Stay away from investors
As Novasole has grown, Menno and Roel have talked to several investors but have been hesitant to bring them on board as they imposed too many restrictions.
‘Stay away from investors as long as possible, so you will be free to develop your own product with your own values and ideas,’Menno advises.
Novasole’s small investments are financed with the money that they earn from another company that they run, Solar Engineers, a company that sells solar hardware. ‘Right now we are bootstrapping it on our own and it’s working out fine,’ Roel says. The day that they bring in outside capital will be the time to scale up quickly, a large amount of money will be needed e.g. to hire more developers. The investor that they bring on board must be the right fit, Menno says: ‘They must be passionate about what we are doing. And somehow they have to be crazy enough, to invest in us.’
Check out the ‘Dakscan’: https://www.solarengineers.nl/dakscan