Cloover wants to speed solar adoption by helping installers finance new sales

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Solar panels practically sold themselves in Europe after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent electricity prices skyrocketing. Now, as electricity prices have begun to fall, solar installers have found themselves spending more on marketing to attract customers.
One proven way to win more business has been to offer financing. But small operations usually don’t have the resources to underwrite new installations, which cost tens of thousands of euros each, forcing customers to head to the bank. Problem is, many customers switch installers “because on the way to the bank, they get contacted by five other providers,” Jodok Betschart, co-founder and co-CEO of Cloover, told TechCrunch.
To Betschart and his co-founders, Peder Broms and Valentin Gönczy, the answer wasn’t just better project-bidding software, but the addition of financing to help small installers provide loans themselves. “In one conversation, installers get a real-time underwriting and credit decision,” Betschart said.
Their startup, Europe-based Cloover, has developed software that ingests customer data to assess not only their ability to repay a loan, but also how much money they spend on energy. In many cases, a monthly payment for solar panels will be less than what someone pays for their electric bill. 
“But a bank doesn’t really integrate these energy savings into their models,” Betschart said. “Many times, we can enable financing where a normal bank said they cannot do it.”
To underwrite those loans, Cloover recently raised $108.5 million in debt alongside a $5.5 million seed round led by Lowercarbon Capital with participation from 9900 Capital and QED’s Fontes, the company exclusively told TechCrunch. The startup will own the loans in a special-purpose vehicle that’s financed through senior debt providers, and it will cover a small portion of them via equity, Betschart said.
The company charges installers a transaction fee for each loan they originate, and it also claims a percentage of each loan payment. When Cloover rolls out software later this year to allow homeowners to use their batteries to sell electrons to the grid, it’ll also take a cut.
Cloover will use the funding to hire sales and customer success teams to train installers on how to use financing for energy upgrades, Betschart said. Today, the company is working with about 200 installers, though he added that there are thousands more who might be able to use its service. 
Giving small installers access to financing should help speed the adoption of climate-friendly technologies, Betschart said. 
“Eighty-five percent of all the renewable energy installations of solar energy storage, heat pumps, energy management systems, and so on, they’re done through local and SMB installers,” he said. Big companies already have sophisticated platforms to assess customers’ financial capacities, he added. “The only way to achieve the energy transition is by offering exactly the same optionality to SMB installers.”
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