Freyr Energy: Disrupting the Solar Realm by Wielding Technology

Date:   Sunday , November 06, 2016

The Indian government has set a target of generating 40 GW by 2020 on the distributed solar segment, which translates into a massive market opportunity worth nearly Rs.300,000 crore. Cost of electricity from soalr energy is at par or below cost of grid power in several parts of India. This presents a unique opportunity for solar organizations to grow profitably without the need for additional government support. On the flipside, this nascence has left the industry with several gaps that are yet to be addressed. For instance, to get the solar system installed, customers have to endure the cumbersome process involving four different companies (supplier, installer and so on), which leads to loss of accountability when something goes south. Bridging such gaps by handholding customers from pre-sales to post installation has made Freyr Energy a disruptive force with over 60 channel partners across India in a short span of two years.
Straightforward, Hassle-Free & Affordable

\"Our sales & installation process is very simple and transparent. Our end customers are involved in the whole system design and they are well aware of all the 25-40 components (all meeting international standards) the system is comprised of,\" remarks Saurabh Marda, Co-Founder, Freyr Energy. The company\'s proprietary technology helps the sales team to capture various aspects within 15 minutes, such as customer\'s energy requirement, shadow-free space available on roof, local state policies, precise local solar radiation (which alone impacts price & performance by 10-30 percent), availability of grid & existing backing system in their premises and customer\'s budget. This is very different from the existing model where this entire process takes several weeks to months. Making the purchase further affordable is the company\'s capability of getting financing for its customers through third parties. Furthermore, the absence of a whole network of wholesalers and distributors not only allows Freyr to be competitively priced for end customers, but also facilitates its channel partners to make higher margins.

A Boon for Channel Partners

Besides shrinking the sales cycle to a bare minimum of one-two meetings with customers, Freyr\'s technology also eliminates the need for channel partners to have a solar or electrical background. Unlike other organizations that demand channel partners to invest between Rs.5-25 lakhs for inventory purchase & storage before they could represent them, Freyr just requires the channel partners to pay Rs.10-15k as the software rental fee. Since they are not burdened with the hassles of procurement & installation, they can focus on what matters the most - selling the system.

\"Over the past two years, we\'ve systematically setup a network nationwide. For us, addressing a service request is as important as making a sale. It is this kind of approach that has resulted in 50 percent of our orders coming from referrals,\" proclaims Radhika Choudary, Co-Founder, Freyr Energy. Working closely with its manufacturers and getting its people trained in their facilities has permitted Freyr to efficiently provide after sales service instantaneously, rather than relying on manufacturers.

The Technology-based Approach

Having worked in the solar ecosystem for years, Saurabh and Radhika were well aware of its ups & downs in India. The duo decided to take a plunge into entrepreneurship in 2014 with the vision of adopting a technology-based approach to scale in the rooftop segment in a low cost manner. Though being crystal-clear about their strategy helped the company to emerge above the challenge of raising capital, it still had to nullify other generic startup hurdles such as acquiring talents and convincing customers that Freyr is here to stay.

Freyr ensures that its system is customized to meet all of customer\'s requirements and operates within their limitations. The company has taken on and successfully executed a few extremely challenging projects. In one case, the company set-up a 100 kW system across a 20 m wide canal with chemical waste flowing underneath. Freyr is the one of the only companies that has been able to install micro grid systems in areas of social unrest (naxalites & social insurgencies) in deeply forested areas, where it had to transport 10-20 tonnes of electrical infrastructure materials by foot without damaging them - all by itself under a single umbrella.

The company feels fortunate to have people who thrive in such an environment and are eager to improve their skills by learning new tasks. Freyr has inculcated a straightforward culture and a flat hierarchy, where people are encouraged to take decisions without worrying about failing, provided they learn from their mistakes and improve on it. This result-oriented organization lays emphasis on getting the job done on time within budget, rather than pressuring them to stay in the office/field for 8-12 hours. Freyr trains its people on a case-by-case basis, where it identifies skill gaps and fills them to make its people more efficient, while preparing them to take on bigger roles.

Having earned a stellar reputation in the solar sectors of India & Ghana by installing over 700 system in a span of 2 years, the company is all set to commence its operations in Nigeria next month and anticipates increasing the count of its channel partners to 150 by the end of this financial year. In the next couple of years, Freyr is gunning to acquire clients in 25 developing countries, while spreading its wings in India.

Key Management:

Saurabh Marda, Co-Founder
This Yale alumnus with eight years of Engineering & Business Development experience has six years of expertise in the solar ecosystem that he earned from Nuevo Power Inc., SunPower, Solaria and Distributed World Power in India.

Radhika Choudary, Co-Founder
Having spent eight years in solar realm, Radhika has setup and managed the South India division for Lanco Solar and was in the starting team of SunEdison, where she was responsible for setting-up operations in three other countries. Apart from this, she has worked at GE and SKF.

Offices: Hyderabad (Headquarter) and Ghana (Africa)

  • On-grid & Off-grid Rooftop systems with/without batteries for residential & industrial customers

  • As Indian government aims to electrify 20,000 villages by 2020, Freyr is executing the project for them by installing micro grids

  • Specialized solar installations for petro pumps that helps to reduce their energy bill and to grow business without revenue loss during power cuts

  • Solar pumps that are used for a drip/sprinkler based systems, drinking water, and filtration systems

  • Clients: Freyr\'s clients range from individuals such as farmers & home/small business owners to publicly traded companies & MNCs based in U.S., Europe & Africa