Gearing up Spanish houseowners to embrace solar energy, Samara raises €4.5 million

Samara welcomed the return of its pre-seed investors Seaya and Pelion Green Future for its second raise in the space of six months.
Gearing up Spanish houseowners to embrace solar energy, Samara raises €4.5 million

Spanish solar tech startup Samara wants to address Spain's lamentable track record in convincing householders to install rooftop solar panels.

The use of its online configurator helps Spaniards equip their rooftops with the most effective solar PV configuration, while also making recommendations on storage batteries and solar-powered EV chargers. Customers can use the software to access 3D design renders of solar products before making a purchase, and can also enter their power consumption to calculate cost savings and emissions cuts.

Beyond the front-end software, Samara's internal solar engineers carry out the final design work and assist consumers while installing new solar panels and other solar kit. Spain has suffered from a lack of qualified installers, Samara says, meaning the startup's growth plans could create jobs and tempt more into the solar industry.

Now equipped with a fresh €4.5 million seed raise, Samara wants to go national with its business model opening several installation hubs to cover different sections of Spain. 

The seed round features two investors returning from Samara's €2 million pre-seed six months ago: Seaya and Pelion Green Future. Seaya is leading on this occasion, after both co-led in June.

Samara is led by co-founders Iván Cabezuela, an ex-Amazon and Uber alum who previously led the Spanish division of energy utility Bulb, and Manel Pujol Olivares,  former country manager for Uber Eats.

Iván Cabezuela said: "The goal is to continue the exponential growth we are experiencing in these first six months, to expand our geographic scope and to continue developing digital solutions to help our customers optimize their consumption.

"For us, it is important to establish long-term relationships with users and to be their partner in the energy transition. We want to help more and more people adopt clean energy in their homes through solar panels, batteries and electric vehicle chargers, as well as become more energy independent and reduce their carbon footprint".

The startup is looking to tackle software enhancements post-seed raise also. It wants to allow customers to track energy use in real time, through a "fully digital" interface that remains actionable after solar installation.

The expansion may well bring Madrid-based Samara in touch with a few of its Spanish competitors. In the Catalonian capital Barcelona it will face off against two-year old SolarMente, which combines installation with financing and insurance, while Solarbox is a 90 minute road trip south from Madrid and promises "comprehensive" solar servicing for homes.

What makes Samara stand out is the pure software and services-led play. For one, it's not trying to cram its market message to fit a specific solar peripheral. You can conceive how this approach will win footfall — being just a search query away — and then it's just a matter of closing deals for solar installations.

Sunny Spain

Spain's grid supply of solar energy reached 17,100 MW in September 2022, with a further 2,500 MW sourced from rooftop PV panels, which draw power without tapping the main national grid.

In Europe's solar generation arena Spain historically has been thought of as a top contender. With around 3,000 sunny hours annually, it certainly has the climate.

In recent years, however, it's been surpassed by Italy, its Mediterranean counterpart, in terms of solar generation capacity. Spanish wind farms tend to contribute more.

But Spain remains among Europe's highest growth solar markets, and these days solar tech itself is seen as a more compelling bet mainly due to declining solar panel costs and a breezy installation process for households.

On December 15 the energy major Shell said it acquired 10 Spanish solar energy developments, with potential to produce 2,000 MW of electricity.

At the start of 2022 Samara says Spain had just 70,000 off-grid rooftop solar installations, despite a study indicating it could reach 1 million by 2025. Crunch the numbers and Spain has its work cut out: as of 2020 the UK had around 800,000 solar rooftops; Germany had 1.4 million (note: Spain still lags in per capita terms, despite having a smaller population.)

At Samara's Madrid headquarters, the team is ready for take off. Just six months into the product launch it has 35+ staff and Samara will hire further recruits on the back of the seed round.

Meanwhile sentiment in Spanish households may shift given Europe's energy crunch over the past year. Faced with soaring prices for grid-derived power, more Spanish consumers might be expected to opt for off-grid clean tech in a bid to buffer their energy spending.

Carlos Fisch, director at Seaya, said: "We have witnessed Manel and Ivan's excellent execution and their ability to lead a company with an attractive value proposition, healthy unit economics, an outstanding team and measurable impact.

"We are very pleased to continue to support Samara in its mission to accelerate the adoption of solar energy in homes. The sustainable growth that Samara represents fits perfectly with Seaya's values, we share a common goal."

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