Minimum investment: $100
Raising up to: $1 million
Valuation: $22 million cap (the max your investment will convert into shares at)
Industry: Renewable energy
Investment portal: Republic
Dear First Stage Investor,
What’s the first thing that pops into people’s heads when they think of home energy conservation?
Solar panels, of course.
But what a lot of homeowners don’t know is that solar panels don’t make sense for ALL homes. Which way does the roof face? Do trees block the sun? Both are huge variables.
So even if a homeowner is considering installing solar panels, how do they really know if it’s right for them?
The startup we’re recommending today, Geostellar, is changing the way people think about and invest in renewable home energy.
Dubbed the “Uber of solar panels” by the Dallas Business Journal, Geostellar is an online platform that helps individuals and communities buy solar power systems unique to individual homes or businesses.
Founded by David Levine in 2010, Geostellar has built an extremely robust and powerful system.
Here’s how it works. Customers go on Geostellar.com and enter their home address. Geostellar then uses proprietary analysis tools to give accurate estimates of solar setup costs and associated energy savings, basically eliminating the guy with a clipboard who comes to your house for two hours just for an estimate.
The company taps into government databases that provide accurate snapshots of how much sun houses get and how much energy they currently use. Here’s an example image showing each house’s “sun profile.”
This data is used to give users accurate estimates for their own potential solar installation. Here’s how Geostellar describes it in its profile page on Republic…
With the LiDAR data, we can generate a virtual world and move the sun through the sky to determine the precise amount of sunlight that shines on each square meter of rooftop and the amount of energy that would be generated over the course of the year if solar panels were placed in that spot, based on the slope, orientation and shading.
We add data on energy usage patterns, utility rates, installation costs and federal, state and local incentives to provide a complete model of the energy, environmental and economic aspects of solar energy unique to each individual property.
The result is an instant interactive assessment of the solar benefits that is easy to understand, with summaries, cash-flow models and a recommended system configuration.
I completed the estimate process for my own house, and it went very smoothly.
According to Geostellar’s estimates, I could save $57,921 over the life of the equipment and meet 74% of my power needs with a rooftop system.
Geostellar representatives followed up with me by phone and email and were extremely professional and helpful. I didn’t buy the system, but I’m now seriously considering it.
Geostellar’s solar systems have 25-year warranties, and the estimated cost beat most other options I could find online.
One of my favorite things about Geostellar is that it has detailed information on federal and state incentive programs (including tax credits and deductions).
The site gave me a full breakdown of costs. Geostellar offers various financing options tailored to the customer’s needs.
Geostellar works with a large network of local installation contractors. The company uses its large volume to obtain better prices for customers.
Another perk of Geostellar is its Solar Club, which can be launched by anyone and used to promote solar deals locally via entrepreneurs, real estate agents and others. Partners can earn money by referring businesses to Geostellar.
Geostellar remains the primary point of contact for the owner throughout the life of their solar system. It does not “sell leads.” The company provides ongoing service and support, including the 25-year warranty.
Geostellar did $3.5 million in revenue for 2016 and grew at an average of 146% year over year from 2014 to 2016.
The company has received $1.3 million in grants from the Department of Energy. This is non-dilutive capital that shows the team is keeping shareholder interests front and center.
The company has an excellent name and a great domain as well (www.geostellar.com).
Geostellar has largely focused on consumer sales up to this point, but it has numerous opportunities to expand further into the commercial side of solar… and it’s shown good progress on that front so far.
Overall, I believe this is one of the most promising startups I’ve seen in months. It’s grown large enough that most of the “seed stage” risk is gone, but the valuation is still reasonable at $22 million. It’s an extremely attractive entry point.
The company has done well with the money it’s raised so far and is at a stage where it will benefit from significant capital investment. I believe this could be a SolarCity-sized company in a few years if it continues to execute well.
Andy and I spoke with Geostellar’s founder, David Levine, and we’re very confident in his leadership and vision for the company. Geostellar’s got big plans, and we’re happy to be a part of them.
The Renewable Market
Over the last few years, solar power has become cost-competitive with grid power, and this market has an incredible amount of growth ahead of it. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association…
Total installed U.S. solar PV capacity is expected to nearly triple over the next five years. By 2022, more than 18 GW of solar PV capacity will be installed annually.
Geostellar is in an excellent position to benefit from this high-growth market.
How to Invest
Geostellar is raising money on Republic.co. We know the team at Republic well, and it’s one of the most well-run equity crowdfunding portals in the U.S.
To get started, create an account on Republic.co if you haven’t yet by clicking the link below.
Once you’re registered and logged in, go to the Geostellar investment page.
Editor’s Note: If you’re new to First Stage Investor, or if you just need a refresher on how to invest in startups through portals, check out our video tutorial “Investing in Startups Through Online Portals.”
How You Can Help
Tell your friends about Geostellar! Or if you’re in the market for a solar system, use its service to find a great deal. Geostellar works with a hand-picked group of high-quality contractors and offers a lowest-price guarantee.
If you know of any companies that could benefit from a partnership with Geostellar, send them here.
Geostellar is an early-stage tech investment, and like all such investments, it’s risky. The company could fail to raise the capital necessary to get to profitability. The government could remove incentives for renewable energy. Do not invest money you can’t afford to lose.
Also, remember that these types of investments are not liquid, meaning you can’t buy or sell your stake easily. If and when an exit opportunity arises, you’ll be informed immediately.
All that said, we believe Geostellar offers an excellent risk-reward ratio.
Founder, First Stage Investor