Ugandan pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar startup gnuGrid Africa has raised US$50,000 in seed capital to further develop its tech, pilot, and expand into the market.
Launched earlier this year by David Opio and James Dailey, gnuGrid has built Solar Sentra, which aims to streamline and automate the highly fragmented solar industry in Uganda and beyond by using AI-optimised sensors to monitor solar systems and collect data on power usage which is used by solar companies to tailor service delivery.
gnuGrid bundles this hardware with digital payments, predictive analytics, customer profiling and data management, among others, to help solar companies operate more efficiently at lower cost.
The startup raised US$50,000 in seed funding as a convertible note from two investors over the course of August and September to help it further develop and test its technology, and has also started on a Series A round in a bid to take on a further US$500,000 investment.
gnuGrid, which charges solar companies an annual subscription fee and a monthly customer management fee, has just completed its pilot phase and converted those companies previously on the pilot into paying customers.
Opio said there had been an “overwhelmingly positive reception” to Solar Sentra, with initial customers having a good experience and referring gnuGrid. Its current 10 customers – solar companies – have a total of nearly 150,000 solar product installations in the market. There is plenty of room for expansion in Uganda alone.
“There are over 500 solar companies in Uganda alone attempting to provide energy to 33 million people living in off-grid communities across the country. We are currently active with 10 companies with pending contracts with 20 other companies in the pipeline. Our target is to have at least 25 per cent of the entire Ugandan solar provider market in the next two years,” Opio said.
“Our strategy is to consolidate the Ugandan market and ground ourselves, followed by the East African market and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the future, we are hoping to customise the solution to other energy forms like wind power and e-bikes, that are prevalent in other areas like Europe so that we can diversify and extend our reach.”
He said gnuGrid’s service offering differed from other providers in the market in both pricing and capabilities, with the concept of credit-scoring to filter out high-risk customers unique to its solution.
“We leverage strong data analytics to prompt actions on the part of operators to better manage equipment and customers. Another unique point is the focus on solar system monitoring which includes energy metering and sensing to detect system overloads so as to warn users and collect data about potential upgrades,” Opio said.