With frequent power cuts and fuel price hikes, four men have turned to the sun for solution and business.
SolarTown Energy Private Limited, a Chennai-based energy brand, is a distinct blend of solar power services that serve as long-term solutions to power crisis, and products that help preserve energy and cut electricity bills.
A young team of four members, Vikram Dileepan (26), Sarath Babu C.V. (27), Vinod Kumar K.J.C (26) and Ramanathan Kalyanasundaram (25) are the force behind this unique initiative. Vikram Dileepan, CEO, talks to NXg about the company’s journey so far…
Can you trace the instances that lead to the inception of SolarTown Energy Private Limited?
During my three-year stint in Copenhagen I had immense exposure to Asian energy markets, and during the time, I began to realise that solar power was the future of a country like India that is hit by unpredictable, long hours of power cuts and rising diesel costs. When I visited Chennai once, then I came across a bunch of hoteliers who were affected by this problem and were desperately on the lookout for a solution. That marked the beginning in mid-2012.
Tapping into a brand new market demands enormous amounts of research. How did you prepare?
Honestly, when we started, the four of us mutually believed that if we could identify and establish a target market and if we could reach out to people and convince them that we had a definite solution to their problem, we could sustain. So we approached clients, who we knew were desperate to be rid of these power crunches, and told them that they could invest in a long-term solution that would free them of the burden of increasing fuel prices and incessant power cuts. We realised that most of them were open to exploring the idea and then of course, we knew that we were on track.
SolarTown Energy’s service comes at a cost that probably, at this point at least, only clients who see value in our services and really care about solar installations, are willing to bear. And Chennai seemed like one such market that has potential buyers of that calibre. So though we have set-up in Chennai, we have our full-fledged pan-Indian expansion plan in place, where we intend to tap Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and a few cities in Tamil Nadu. Also, we realise that it’s necessary to be successful in a particular geographical horizon before moving to another. The biggest challenge is to move forward at the pace that we would like to.
What was your business like during the power cut phase in the state?
Since our inception in 2012, and especially during the power cuts phase, we sold over 40 systems all over Tamil Nadu that ranged between Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 2,50,000. That certainly made a huge difference. Out of those 40, 60 per cent were sold to villages, suburbs and smaller cities in the state that were the most affected.
At a time when younsters seem to tread paths that promise fat pay cheques and secure futures, was this step in the other direction not a challenge?
The idea was not to make money. The idea was to impact a billion lives in the country and to create a global Indian energy brand that will drastically change the Indian economy scene, for the better, of course. And we are slowly but steadily moving towards that one-point vision.