Innovative approach of solar development with Sunmill. The Startup Story
It is a well-known fact that sooner or later humanity will shift on renewable energy sources and solar industry plays a big role in this revolution.
Sunmill is a platform for landowners and investors to connect with each other and develop solar projects. They bring these people together so they can start building the solar parks.
Last week, I visited them in the Lift99 Tallinn Hub and had a chat with Andrus Raudsep and Margus Potisepp about their innovative idea.
They have an interesting founder story to share with us and, I’m sure, it’s inspiring for everyone who wants to start a startup journey:
Andrus and Margus didn’t know each other before starting working on Sunmill — Margus has been working in a solar business for four and a half years. This February, he went to his friend’s birthday and after chatting about the idea with some people, one of his friends connected him with Andrus. Then they met the same weekend and decided to start a business together with a mission to make solar energy accessible for more people.
That’s how the team was born, let’s dig into their story more and check out the interview with them.
Here’s what we talked about:
How would you describe Sunmill in the simplest way?
We would like to streamline the development of the solar projects to make energy generation cleaner by connecting landowners and investors. On one hand, there are people with the land and, on the other, there are people who would like to invest in the solar business — we want to connect them with each other and help to start an effective collaboration.
We are in an early-stage development phase of our company, so we are still defining and discovering our target audience. There are different segments to work with and the different business models to explore.
Tell us about the founder story of Sunmill…
There are two of us in the team right now and we started inMarch. We didn’t actually know each other before — we met through one of our mutual friends and because our interests and values match, we simply started working on this project together. We both have strong backgrounds in this field, which helps us understand the problem more and come up with new and sophisticated solutions.
How did you come up with this idea?
From previous working experience in Solar sector, Margus found out that there could be a very good solution for two types of potential customers: ones who don’t have money to invest in solar parks but have a land that’s not in use and others who are willing to invest in this, but don’t know how and where to do it. So, we decided to match these two puzzle pieces and bring these people together.
In the beginning, we were working from different pubs, cafes and libraries, but starting from May, we took this chance from Lift99 two-month free membership and we are based here, which has very positive outcomes.
Like in every startup, there are many difficulties on the way — the procedure of setting up the whole system takes time and energy generation is a regulated industry with lots of bureaucracy to cut through.
What has been the impact for you from joining Lift99 Startup Hub in Tallinn?
We have been working from here for four weeks already and the outcome has been great! We made lots of important connections by just talking to people around here — the opportunity helped us to get feedback in real-time. Also, we connected to people who might represent a new business opportunities for us, which is absolutely amazing.
What can you tell us about your future plans?
The main goal for 2020 is to validate the idea and to reach a working business model. Once we have enough proof and confidence that it works we definitely would like to expand to markets where solar makes sense the most. Estonian market is good for the beginning to test the concepts, but resource-wise there are countries where solar works better than in Estonia.
By the end of this year, we would like to build 40 solar parks in Estonia and triple that amount of that in the upcoming years.
Finally, what would your message be to the young entrepreneurs who are just entering the field and want to create something big?
Dream big and start small. Don’t be afraid to test and validate your idea — check it with customers if they are interested in it
It was great to visit the Sunmill people in Lift99. I would like to thank Andrus and Margus for finding time to have a chat with us and sharing very motivating and inspiring insights about their early-stage initiative.
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