Interview (Dhaval Radia)

Dhaval Radia,
Senior Vice President at Greenlight Planet

“Congratulations on your success in raising $2.36 million through Trine”

Thank you! This was a unique collaboration between Trine and Greenlight Planet, and it happens to be the largest transaction of its kind raised through Trine’s crowdfunding platform. This funding will support Greenlight Planet's growth in India, and it is anticipated to provide 560,000 people with energy access while reducing an estimated 12,800 tons of carbon emissions.

“With Greenlight Planet being present in India and Africa as well, how do you compare Indian off-grid solar policies to the African initiatives?”

With the Indian government’s push towards 100% electrification, most Indians now have access to electricity, albeit often unreliable. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the scenario is vastly different with nearly 62% of the population still lacking access to electricity. For these governments, off-grid solar helps provide energy access to people in a way that is more accessible and more affordable than extending the electric grid, especially to remote, sparsely populated regions. Several African governments now view off-grid solar as an integral component of their national electrification plans. Greenlight Planet’s Sun King solar home energy solutions play an integral part in the national electrification efforts in countries like Rwanda, Togo and Benin.

In India, government engagement at a policy-level began to gain traction with the formation of the International Solar Alliance. The government’s continued focus on renewable energy is also a promising sign. We have been in partnership with the government owned postal service, India Post, for nearly two years, with Sun King products available across post offices in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. We look forward to more support from government institutions to ensure that rural India has the option to choose affordable, clean energy options that meet their families’ needs.

“What kind of success has Greenlight Planet seen in India?”

India is where we began our journey as a company, and over the last ten years we have experienced exponential growth. Through successful distribution partnerships and our own direct sales channel, we have managed to electrify several highly off-grid and under-electrified pockets of the country. Over 20 million Indians now have access to reliable, clean energy through our Sun King range of solar products, across more than 25 states in India. Our products are now so prevalent that almost every other household or business user of a branded off-grid solar lamp in India owns a Sun King.

We are both excited and humbled by our growth in India. Honestly, it is a reflection of an increasingly aspirational and informed rural India. Customers today want more sophisticated appliances to power their homes and small businesses and are placing value on quality and longevity. Despite the impressive grid extension here, India continues to be the largest market for stand-alone solar products and, with a host of new products in the pipeline, we are well positioned to cater to the growing needs of this population.<br />

“India is expected to be the biggest market for distributed solar reaching a size of $327 million by 2023, as reported by GOGLA. How do you see Greenlight Planet contributing its bit in the near future?”

We believe our key differentiator is our edge on innovation both with product and last mile distribution.

With products, we listen to our customers, and we design solutions specifically for their needs. As our customers’ basic lighting needs are met, they begin asking for solutions for entertainment and information access. Greenlight Planet will expand into the lifestyle category with a fan and TV slated for launch in the coming year.

We have also worked extensively on resolving last mile distribution challenges and improving our serviceability, to the extent that we now facilitate door-step delivery to customers in some of our partnerships. This makes Greenlight Planet one of the best placed companies to expand and contribute to this growing market, allowing us to bring our products to undeserved, under-electrified customer better and more affordably than others.

“How does Greenlight Planet manage after sales services?”

Greenlight Planet has large, on-ground, field service teams in all of the key states that we operate in. These skilled field workers, supported by a network of cloud based applications and data automation built in-house, allow us to reach, deliver and replace products to remote, rural consumers within seven days (in most cases). We work constantly to improve our internal processes, to automate and digitize delivery tracking, and to optimize the costs involved in last-mile delivery to create a pleasant, seamless r consumer experience.

“Has there been any change in the company's business model over the years with an evolving industry, policies and a growing general awareness among the public?”

We are a work-in-progress company in a good way. We constantly evolve and redefine the possibilities of what we can achieve in line with the needs of our customers and target markets. Over the last three years alone, we have broadened the range of our products, localized our operations in three new countries, started a completely new business model based on consumer financing with PAYG technology, and grown our headcount and the complexity of our teams along the way. We remain flexible and nimble, and we strive to stay aligned with the needs of the markets and customers we serve.

“How difficult and important is the last mile delivery in a country like India?”

Both in India and globally, last mile delivery is important yet extremely challenging. The ability to manage efficient last-mile distribution - the logistics of moving products, an intricate supply chain in the context of limited infrastructure, a reliable system of after-sales and customer service - is a key differentiator of companies that have the potential to reach billions located in remote parts of the world. We understood this from our earliest days of selling solar energy solutions, and have been focused on building this expertise in house. Today, we deliver nearly 75,000 Sun King Products globally direct to our customers’ remote, rural doorsteps each month; half of this takes place in India. We foresee continued growth here and globally, and we will continue investing in processes, technology and solutions that enable us to reach multiples of the homes and businesses we do today.

Interview 07/04/2019 by Moulin
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