Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Finn Peacock from SolarQuotes.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
SolarQuotes.com.au is the "Trip Advisor" of the Australian solar power industry. We have over 12,000 reviews of solar installation companies, solar panels and solar inverters, and heaps of jargon-free advice written by qualified engineers to help people who are looking to buy solar. We generate revenue with a "3 quotes" service that connects solar installers with people looking to compare quotes for solar power systems.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
SolarQuotes.com.au is completely self-funded and its growth is financed by cash flow. We use online advertising, SEO, social media and media partnerships (e.g. Sydney Morning Herald, The Age) to grow traffic and build the brand.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Protection of our trading name and trademark has been an ongoing issue, with several competitors setting up imitation sites under almost the same name and confusing the market. We enforce our trademark when this happens!
The other issue is the constant influx of "fly by night" solar installers flooding the market with cheap systems and crappy service. Many go broke and leave a trail of destruction behind them. It is unfortunate as the industry as a whole doesn't deserve to be tarnished by rogue operators, but invariably they'll be the ones that end up in the media. We are very fussy about who we allow to quote via SolarQuotes, but we allow the public to leave reviews of all companies. You can read about their trails of destruction via some of the reviews!
How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?
SolarQuotes.com.au was founded in early 2009 when solar panels cost $1000 each, and solar was a tiny niche industry. Over that time we've collected over 12,000 reviews of installers and continually updated the solar related content. So the site has a depth of content, resources and tools regarding solar installations, products and systems for the public that cannot be matched by its competitors. We are also extremely fussy about the solar installers that we allow to quote via the site, making it a low-risk way to buy a solar system.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Mailplane for Mac, a desktop client for Gmail. It's essential for juggling multiple inboxes.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
"Start a business not a startup. Don't have an exit strategy. Building to flip is building to flop." Jason Fried, 37 Signals
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