Many local and global media outlets have recently highlighted a success story of one of our clients – a Ukrainian startup SolarGaps that has raised € 1.000.000 in funds from the European Commission within its Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 program. The program aims to help high-risk, innovative business projects create and bring to market new products, services, and business models that can stimulate economic growth. The Phase 2 goal is to help startups focus on the development of a strategic business plan and expectations management. The amount of investment at this stage ranges between €0,5 до €2,5 million.
SolarGaps is a combination of external aluminum Venetian blinds and solar panels installed outside of a building to generate solar energy and help reduce your apartment, home and/or business electricity bill by up to 70%. Today, the product is positioned as a B2B solution that transforms business center facades into vertical power plants.
SolarGaps COO Yurii Tsvierkun has shed some light on their revolutionary energy-saving project and how they were able to attract such significant funding.
SolarGaps Fundraising Timeline:
May-June 2017 – Kickstarter campaign launched, over $100K raised in pledges;
October 2017 – Kickstarter campaign launched, $142K raised;
August-September 2018 – Horizon 2020 Phase 1 €50K grant received;
January-April 2019 – Horizon 2020 Phase 2 €1 million grant received.
SolarGaps’ journey began in August 2018 with a Horizon 2020 Phase 1 application. At the time, the team had a preliminary vision of product and market positioning and was testing different pricing and business model hypotheses.
“SolarGaps is a good solution for areas that suffer from brutal heat, high air-conditioning bills and consistent sunshine.” TechCrunch
A month after the application, they received positive feedback and grant approval and started working on the implementation of the Phase 1 program.
At this stage, SolarGaps team further explored possible markets to enter, did robust competitive research, figured out the positioning, filed patents, and registered a TradeMark to protect IP.
“Built-in solar panels can generate up to 100W-150W of renewable energy per 10-square-foot of window: That’s enough to power 30 LED light bulbs, or three MacBooks.” Geek.com
In January 2019, 2,300 companies applied for Phase 2. Approximately 800 of them received 13 or more pass points. Of these 800, 130 startups were interviewed. Finally, up to 70 projects got funding after the pitching. That being said, the probability of success was 3.6%, and SolarGaps nailed it.
The SolarGaps team changed their pitch several times until they fine-tuned and polished the message to become compelling enough for the European Commission to approve of the grant.
SolarGaps became the first Ukrainian startup to have received SME Instrument Horizon 2020 Phase 2 grant and got to Top 5% of innovative European startups who succeeded to get the award.
The grant allowed increasing the value of SolarGaps, as the further the company enters the market, the more it costs. Also, it’ll enable the company to focus better on its core product completion and marketing.
We’re happy to have assisted SolarGaps with building and launching native mobile applications for smart blinds demo (view in augmented reality (AR) how the blinds fit your room windows) and pre-order. Facts speak louder than words so take a look at what feedback we’ve just got from SolarGaps with regard to our mobile development expertise and delivery.