This is part of an ongoing series of profiles on solar startups in the Oakland, California SfunCube — an “incubator” dedicated to professionals in the solar industry. This profile is on the solar portfolio asset management firm Ra Power Management, which offers an innovative and easier way for solar investors and developers to track and manage their financial and operational workflows. They are still in the process of finalizing their software, but with with the strong feedback and encouragement they’re already getting, they’re already on track to becoming a must-have for any solar business.
What is Ra Power Management?
According to the brief description on their webpage:
Ra Power Management is a solar portfolio management and advisory firm offering a comprehensive software solution for distributed solar investors and developers. RPM’s platform empowers clients to efficiently scale and manage their financial and operational workflows.
Rather than using the usual manual workflows and processes to manage solar assets, Ra Power Management offers a customizable, comprehensive software management platform that is scalable, automated, and standardized.
Who are they?
Ra Power Management was co-founded by George Zviagin and Aaron Iverson. Before starting RPM, Zviagin had led the Portfolio Management group at SolarCity. He has also worked for SunRun, managing their fund deployment process and heading the FP&A team. Overall, he has had over a decade of experience in his field.
Iverson has worked with a variety of asset management systems, with a focus on improving the process of asset management and increasing operational efficiency. He had over 15 years of experience working with startups, and a long-held an interest in solar. However, he had not worked directly in the field when he and Zviagin began discussing the idea of a solar asset management platform.
How Ra Power Management got its start
Zviagin came up with the idea for an asset management software platform when he was creating a portfolio management system using complex manual workflows. Maintenance required a heavy investment in both time and resources. This system also tended to be prone to error, and led to a number of issues due to the limitations of a manual platform. His roommate at the time and future co-founder of RPM was also doing portfolio management work, and was noticing similar issues. That’s when they began to discuss the idea of a solar asset management platform.
Initially, Zviagin tried lobbying internally, but was having difficulty getting traction. He was also looking to see if there was any software like what he envisioned already in the market, but the only ones that were similar were not as comprehensive as his idea. This fact along with the strong feedback he was receiving from investors led to his decision to begin Ra Power Management.
The problem with manual processes
Relying on manual processes and tools alone is liable to give rise to error and inconsistent reporting. It requires spending an exorbitant amount of time and resources on operational costs and employee capital in order to maintain solar installation growth. In the end, more time is spent on operational processes and wrangling with data than actually reviewing what the data is reporting.
This method also lacks scalability, which becomes an issue as the customer base and business grows. These issues create a system where solar developers aren’t incentivized for managing anything post-installation, and contribute to the “soft costs” of going solar.
How Ra Power Management can help
Advanced analytics and valuation engine: The software is a single, comprehensive system that is able to streamline asset management operations. Through this system, a business is able to generate reports; calculate cash flows, depreciation schedules and tax benefits; and project finance valuations. It ties in previous data, automates calculations, and evaluates and reduces risk of error. All of this is done by implementing traditional financing models and running analytics across multiple fund structures.
Cloud storage: An advantage to the software is also its mobility. By putting all the data into the cloud, data can be accessed off-site. Contract data, incentive data, solar financing models, and performance data are stored in the cloud. Not only does the software store that information, but it can generate new information, such as asset valuation, analytics, and customizable reporting. This is also a way to control IT costs.
Lifecycle tracking: The software also tracks the full financial and operational lifecycle of a solar project and the performance of a portfolio of solar contracts. It simplifies the tracking not only through optimizing time and costs, but also by increasing the transparency and accuracy of the data.
Customization: Fund reports can be easily and efficiently customized based on the particular needs of the customer. Any additional needs can be built as they go.
Fund deployment: The system manages and maximizes fund deployment to full funding capacity.
Scalability: RPM allows investors and developers to easily scale their asset management workflows as their solar portfolio and customer base grows.
Building relationships between investors and developers: The system is able to align priorities between investors and developers, so that the right asset is allocated to the right investor at the right time. It streamlines financial transactions, and makes solar more transparent and standardized so it is more accessible to investors. It also ties together internal stakeholders so that developers can maximize their communication with them.
Saving money: In an ordinary asset management system, the lifetime cost to manage 10,000 systems is $3,000,000. With RPM it’s only $1,700,000 — a savings of 43%.
What the company is currently working on
Ra Power Management is currently finalizing their software system. It has already been demoed to its target customers and received good feedback, so now they’re just making adjustments and enhancing security. They are building a user profile, ramping up an engineering team, and applying for grants. They are confident they’ll have a trial use version later this year.
What the future holds for RPM
Zviagin and Iverson hope to see this software adopted industry-wide. They are excited about the impact they’ll have making solar more affordable. They plan to expand their market to multiple states beyond California. Their long-term goal is to help solar to access a cheaper form of capital.
Be sure to check back for our next SfunCube profile!