Why We are Continuing to Invest in Aurora Solar
November 30, 2020
Energize Ventures is thrilled to announce its participation in Aurora Solar’s $50M Series B led by ICONIQ Capital. This funding brings Aurora’s total capital raised to more than $70M. Existing investors Fifth Wall and Pear VC are also participating in the round. Along with this funding, Tyler Lancaster (Principal, Energize Ventures) and Doug Pepper (General Partner, ICONIQ Capital) join Aurora co-founders Christopher Hopper and Samuel Adeyemo alongside existing board member Shvet Jain on Aurora’s board.
Poised for post-pandemic rebuilding
During COVID, Aurora’s value became increasingly clear as growth soared despite challenging economic conditions. In the last six months alone, Aurora completed one million solar design projects, bringing the total number of projects designed using its software to 4 million. Solar companies turned to Aurora to digitally design and sell solar projects to their customers safely and efficiently. Demand for solar stayed remarkably resilient — it serves not only as an option to manage high energy bills, but also to limit air pollution in communities. What’s more, solar continues to be a leading provider of employment opportunities, creating hundreds of thousands of blue-collar jobs and generating revenue for municipalities facing massive budget duress. The resiliency of clean energy — and in particular, solar, battery storage and energy efficiency — throughout the economic downturn underscores its potential to re-catalyze America’s economy as we emerge from the pandemic. Aurora is poised to power the build-out of sustainable infrastructure as the software platform of choice.
“Solar has emerged as one of the key future energy sources, and Aurora is increasingly the go-to solution for solar installers who are looking to affordably deploy solar at scale,” said Samuel Adeyemo, Co-founder of Aurora Solar. “The pandemic has accelerated trends towards remote processes, and we are delighted to have the resources to build all the tools that will help the industry thrive in this new environment.”
Software: The key to reducing soft costs
When Energize led Aurora’s $20M Series A in February 2019, our team built strong conviction that solar software was the missing piece to reduce the stubborn soft costs that have afflicted the solar industry for years. While hardware-associated costs have been on a rapid decline, these soft costs (including installing, permitting and financing) still comprise more than half of the total cost of residential solar. Driving soft costs down is critical to achieving and maintaining the necessary cost-effectiveness for solar to remain competitive in the energy market. The key to lowering soft costs? We believe it’s investing in software.
When we first invested in Aurora’s software, we intimately understood inefficiencies in selling, designing and financing solar because we had experienced it firsthand — I began my career developing commercial solar PV and energy efficiency projects for an energy services company. In the solar industry, workflows are complex, highly manual, often inaccurate, and costly — in other words, the ideal candidate to be streamlined by software.
Prior to investing, the Energize team reviewed nearly 60 startups addressing the solar and behind-the-meter distributed energy markets. When we were first introduced to Aurora by one of our limited partners in 2018, I was immediately impressed by their product and commercial progress. We approached the investment opportunity with a prepared mind on the solar software market, which helped us reach conviction fast — within 10 days, over Thanksgiving that year, we issued a term sheet. That holiday will forever be (fondly) remembered as the “Aurora Thanksgiving” among the Energize family and my own. Today, I remain confident in Aurora’s growth potential and aligned on its growth strategy: continue investing in product-led growth, expand sales and customer support, and build a management team to help scale the organization.
A customer-focused team committed to growth
Chris, Sam and the Aurora team have exceeded our expectations so far. They’ve built a strong management team across product, engineering and customer engagement. Aurora has dramatically expanded product functionality, including in-app 3D modeling and battery storage design. Chris and Sam have created an incredible foundation to scale, all while staying capital efficient.
The sun is the limit
The Series B funding will enable Aurora to further extend product depth across the solar value chain, address adjacent technologies like battery storage and energy efficiency, and expand globally. Doug and ICONIQ Capital have tremendous experience helping growth-stage software firms prepare to eventually become public companies. Critically, the solar industry is poised as a sustainable growth engine as we emerge from COVID, creating local jobs and environmental benefits for economies worldwide. The sun is the limit for Aurora. Congratulations to Chris, Sam, and the entire Aurora Solar team for their success so far — Energize is excited to continue the journey with you!