Episode #011 - Andreas Bentzen
Episode #011 with Torsten Brammer & Andreas Bentzen:
The hits keep on coming with another episode of The Solar Journey with Dr. Torsten Brammer. In episode #11 Dr. Brammer speaks with Andreas Bentzen of Otovo.
Based in Oslo, Norway, Andreas acts as CTO and Co-Founder of Otovo, and Owner and Founder of Beacon. Andreas received his Master of Science in Physical Electronics at NTNU and his Ph.D. in Physics at UiO.
In this episode, Torsten and Andreas discuss key pressure points in solar, how Otovo qualifies suppliers, and what it takes to get solar to the next level.
Connect with Andreas on LinkedIn.
[00:00:16.690] - Torsten
Okay. So welcome to a new episode on the Solar Journey. I am Torsten Brammer. And our guest today is Andreas Bentzen. Welcome, Andreas.
[00:00:28.610] - Andreas
Thank you, Torstoen. Great seeing you.
[00:00:30.680] - Torsten
Yeah. So Andreas is the co-founder and the CTO of Otovo. That's a Norwegian company which is building the energy company of the future, distributed, digital and disruptive, as they say. So we'll learn more about Otovo more later. But just to give you an idea, Otovo operates a marketplace for installation of solar modules on private homes. So they address the so-called residential market. So Solar with a few kilowatts. Andreas has been with Otovo for more than six years and he holds a Ph.D. in solar cell technology from the University of Oslo in Norway. And he worked as a researcher at the Norwegian Institute. And this is actually during this time when we both met for the first time at some conference, I think, Andreas, it was in Osaka, Japan, 2003. And we both saw your famous colleague, Daniel Wright playing the Japanese drums like a crazy man.
[00:01:49.430] - Andreas
[00:01:50.700] - Torsten
Good memories. Yeah. Andreas took his initial steps with Rec where he climbed the ranks from a project manager to VP of technology. Rec was and still is a big brand in the solar industry. It was originally a Norwegian company fully integrated from Silicon to solar modules. Today, Rec belongs to an Indian company, Indian group, the Reliance Group. Before Co-founding Otovo, Andreas was also for some time self-employed. He ran his own consultancy company, worked for another Norwegian management consultancy company. So in summary, Andreas is a senior solar cell specialist season manager with technology and business-oriented mindset. His solar journey started almost 20 years ago. And we'd love to learn more about you, Andreas, why you got started in solar, and of course, later on, what Otovo is doing. So why did you get started in solar? Tell us.
[00:03:06.870] - Andreas
Thanks for the introduction, Torsten, and thanks for having me on the show. Yeah, I started in Solar 2001, I think so, more than 20 years ago. And to me, it was sort of like realizing that there's a lot of things you can do within technology, but there's a few things you could do that really help the world move forward. And solar energy is not only an interesting technology as a scientist, even material science is also both commercially and socially an interesting topic. So for me, it was sort of this combination of technical interest and the good that solar could do that maybe jump onto the solar ship and has kept me on it for the last 21 years.
[00:04:00.270] - Torsten
So was there a special event that drove you towards solar? What was the first interaction with solar? It could have been…
[00:04:15.310] - Andreas
To me, it was just a possibility of doing a Ph.D. within solar materials and Sciences. That got me thinking about the topic and made me interested in trying and applying for the position. And I got it. And I think one of the first things I did or one of the early things I did, I remember I was in a solar conference in Rome, I think in either 2001 or 2002 at that time. The solar industry, as you know, it's very small. Right. Even on the European scale. It was a bit of a startup scene if you will. And I got struck by how big it was. We were several hundred attendees, which felt for me like, wow, there are so many people working on solar as years ago, and all the conferences we've been to together, it's been tens and thousands of people. So I think I got drawn into this opportunity of joining an industry at an early stage, and that got me interested in staying home. And it's what I've been doing in my entire adult life, essentially. So I'm quite locked into solar.
[00:05:27.610] - Torsten
Yeah. So whether points in time where you thought, well, this is it, I have to go to a different industry or I don't like it anymore or it's not interesting anymore, or what kept you in that industry for such a long time?
[00:05:44.270] - Andreas
Yeah. I think the years between the early 2000s the mid-2010s, essentially, it's an industrial life cycle over the period of ten to 15 years. It's from its infancy or its early stage of building up manufacturing capacity through a technology boom, an industrial boom, huge growth in the industrial space in Europe, commoditization, and almost death of the industry, at least on a European scale. Right. Shut down. I think to me that was an interesting learning. You learn so many things in solar over those ten to 15 years in many other industries. It takes you a lifetime to learn the importance of being ahead of the curve in terms of understanding where the industry is going next. I think many industrial companies in Europe at the end of the first decade on the 2000s got surprised how quickly the market changed, market condition changed, starting thinking about cost reductions before you have to those kind of things. Right. I think most people that solar didn't realize in 2009, 2010 that skinnier days are coming.
[00:07:19.850] - Torsten
What was the most fascinating, since you can look back 20 years in that industry, which has changed dramatically? Is there one thing that you would say that surprised you most, or would you find most fascinating?
[00:07:35.550] - Andreas
I think, at least from a technology development perspective, I think it's extremely fascinating to see. And I've learned how far you can go with sort of the current state of the technology through incremental improvement or improvements, through operational excellence tuning or existing technology, if you will. I think that work took us a lot longer than we thought, especially as a technologist working on new processes, new products. I got surprised about how far we could go with the existing technology. And I think that's a learning point as well, right. How much improvement there is to do on what you're currently doing versus taking that next step towards that new game- technology.
[00:08:31.210] - Torsten
The last few years of massive change, we moved away from the aluminum back surface field solar cell. And now then there was Perk. And Perk is now almost old-fashioned. We talk about Topcon heterojunction finally and very first all attempts to bring previs guides into the market. So that's personally for me, the most fascinating thing that suddenly things were possible that were only developed in the laboratory and never ever made it into the industrious gate. And now suddenly it's there and has changed the production environment. Totally.
[00:09:22.090] - Andreas
I agree. This is interesting to see because as you say, now you're seeing products on the market that we worked on in the laboratory 15 years ago, right? Ten years ago. And there are huge changes. Now if you go back to what we were offering in the market in Otovo, you don't have to go more than three or four years ago since we're still selling Poly Silicon or multicrystalline modules that's not available on the market anymore, right?
[00:09:51.060] - Torsten
Yeah. It's crazy how fast that went, the change in technology in the last few years. So you mentioned Otovo, you buy modules, give us an introduction. What is Otovo doing? How do you make money?
[00:10:09.110] - Andreas
Alright, absolutely. So we started Otovo. We started out in 2015, launched in 2016. The idea was to make it easier for homeowners to go solar. I think what we saw was a few trends. One, there is huge room for growing residential solar in Europe, but there are some obstacles for consumers to doing that. First of all, making it easy for them to make that decision by demystifying the shopping process or the buying process, democratizing it by offering funding solutions where you don't have to necessarily pay up front. You can lease your system and rather have a monthly fee. So we sort of wanted to go into this to make it easier for people to make that decision of going solar. And once they have made that decision to reduce the barrier of getting it installed, that's one part of it. And the other thing that we realized was that up until very recently, hardware prices have been going down and down gradually and quite a lot over the years. And as hardware prices fall, more and more of the investment cost or the system cost is the software cost, parts cost of sales, cost of marketing cost of labor.
[00:11:41.510] - Andreas
So we wanted to address that, make the total investment lower to the customer by reducing the soft cost portions of a solar installation. So those were sort of the two problems that we wanted to address.
[00:11:57.290] - Torsten
Okay. So it's demystifying, let's say technology provide easier funding and work on the soft part. What do you mean exactly by demystifying? What did you observe in the market and how do you solve it.
[00:12:17.750] - Andreas
I think when we entered Norway in 2015, getting an offer for residential solar system meant you had to talk to ten different electricians or handymen the offer. They give you all the different components, different hardware prices all over the place. So as a homeowner to compare those offerings was really difficult. How do I know if I want to have that manufacturer on the module or this manufacturer on the module? How can I know if this is a good solution for me and a good price? It was very hard to compare offers, so we wanted to make that simpler. And the way we have done that and approach a problem is to create more of a marketplace approach to buying solar where we find the customers. We take the customer through the sales journey by providing the relevant information, such as the savings that they can get, the carbon footprint improvements they can do by installing solar on the roof and matching them with local installers on our platform to make sure that we offer them the best possible price with a local and qualified electrician or installer company that serves their area. We have now more than 500 installers on the platform throughout Europe.
[00:13:52.430] - Andreas
We have helped more than 10,000 homeowners go solar in the last five years. So I think it proves that it works quite well. There's a gap in the market for this type of solution.
[00:14:07.440] - Torsten
Excellent. Do you do the sourcing for your listed installers so that's one of your core services that you provide?
[00:14:21.270] - Andreas
Actually, we don't purchase so much directly. We work through supply chain partners to source hardware to the installers that work on our platform. Most of the installers on our platform, if not all of them, they use existing sourcing methods to purchase hardware. What we do is rather work on a whitelisting approach to make sure that the quality of the products that are used for us, it's up to our standards.
[00:14:50.130] - Torsten
All right, so you have a whitelist for hardware components, and your installers are only allowed from that according to the whitelist?
[00:14:58.770] - Andreas
[00:14:59.650] - Torsten
[00:15:00.590] - Andreas
And we sell specifically on those products. When a customer comes into the shop, he or she gets offered a specific panel, specific inverter based on what's a suitable and most attractive solution for their home. And that's what the installer needs to do or needs to use when they realize that installation.
[00:15:19.270] - Torsten
Yeah. So how do you create that whitelist? So it's kind of the central quality assurance part. How can I get as a manufacturer onto your whitelist?
[00:15:33.870] - Andreas
That's a great question. We get approached now, actually, by quite a few manufacturers who want to be on the white list. Because our volumes are growing. We try to focus on a few aspects of one is obviously the quality. We need to make sure that those products need the quality standards, the appropriate certifications. They have the appropriate technology and technical specs. So that's obviously one part of it. Another part of it is the bankability of the manufacturer. It's quite important for us to use manufacturers that will survive that will be around to meet their warranty obligations if something does go wrong and we will call some sustainability to make sure that the products that we offer to meet some basic sustainability requirements such as carbon footprint and sustainability and their labor conditions for the workforce.
[00:16:42.090] - Torsten
For the quality part, do you have your own test or do you rely on, let's say, the classic like TIFF or, I don't know, DNV GL certification?
[00:16:55.170] - Andreas
Yeah, it's the latter. We don't currently do any own testing. We've been actually experimenting a little bit with this also like testing samples from shipments. But at the end of the day, what scales is to rely on reputable players, certifying the products?
[00:17:19.750] - Torsten
Do you see any quality issues at this point in solar? What are the major issues, if there are any, for those hardware components?
[00:17:36.110] - Andreas
I think as long as you use the right products from the right manufacturers, it's a relatively small quality issue. The callback rates are super low, with very few issues if any. I think the issues that we can observe from time to time are more related to handling and shipping of products to site. There's still quite some learning that needs to be done throughout the value chain on how to handle panels in particular. But other than that, it's quite good.
[00:18:14.580] - Torsten
Yeah. Okay. So Bankability, maybe you can explain that a little bit to the not so established listener.
[00:18:28.950] - Andreas
Yeah. A portion of the sales that we do are now leasing sales. That means that our leasing entity owns the installations and we're rolling this out in more and more markets and we're going to have thousands already. I have more than a few thousand leasing assets out there going to be more and more. Of course, the returns of those leasing contracts within customers rely on those solar installations working throughout the leasing period. If something goes wrong. Well, there might be a warranty claim that we manage on behalf or towards the manufacturer. If that manufacturer is no longer in business, then that warranty claims it won't be addressed. So Bankability is simply making sure that the company has automatic, efficient financial solidity to be around for a while to meet their obligations on the warranties that they issue. The typical that maybe I heard of, bankability rating would be the Bloomberg one list. It's a typical way that more commercial scale solar gets evaluated. We use a combination of these third party bankability evaluations such as Bloomberg, such as the TV module tech rating, and we also do some own assessments or looking into profit and loss statements from the manufacturers looking into how much of their revenue are they using on R and D, for instance, which is a typical metric of is there a long term prospect here?
[00:20:22.610] - Torsten
Okay, interesting. And the third part is sustainability part, let's say standardized audits for the solar products?
[00:20:39.870] - Andreas
Not really. There are some international standards on ESO certifications, also on sustainability, but those are unfortunately not that well adopted yet, although I think this is becoming more and more a topic still. It's not super easy to find the carbon footprint evaluations of module manufacturers, for instance. There are some available first and foremost towards the French markets. But in general, I think there is a little bit of a lag here. So that's something we are looking forward to seeing. Environmental product declarations on modules, for instance, which is going to come more and more going forward.
[00:21:30.710] - Torsten
So who's driving this activity? Are there government bodies or NGOs, industrial associations who drive.
[00:21:44.870] - Speaker 2
Standards for so much on the residential market? I think you see this more on the larger commercial or governmental tenders that there are sustainability requirements in those tenders. I think towards residential there is not so much yet. And for us, it's a matter of we certainly believe we're part of the solution for a greener and more sustainable energy production. And in order to meet that as best as possible, we also have a moral requirement on ourselves to make sure we use products that are manufactured sustainably.
[00:22:27.840] - Torsten
Yeah. And do you have a set metrics at Otovo? How your rates sustainability. So you look at the annual reports of your suppliers, how would you do that? As of today?
[00:22:43.500] - Andreas
Actually, we work with the manufacturers to make them document the carbon footprints in their value chain.
[00:22:50.310] - Torsten
[00:22:52.790] - Andreas
Sometimes they are able to do that properly. Sometimes we need to use more. How do you say more reference numbers? Right. Where you typically, as you know, when you make a solar module, the biggest factor is the electricity, basically consumption during the Wafering process or the public Silicon process. And if you're able to get that documented, then you can get quite far. And sometimes you need to work more on reference numbers to find a good assessment.
[00:23:31.410] - Torsten
Okay. And CO2 footprint, is that the only factor for this regarding sustainability or are there any other factors? I mean, there's lots of chemicals involved and sustainability is a wide term.
[00:23:50.290] - Andreas
No, certainly I think there's questions about waste handling. There's questions about water consumption. But at the end of the day, of course, the global warming potential is the most important factor, at least.
[00:24:09.910] - Torsten
Excellent. So let's jump back a little bit to the business value you mentioned. You're leasing the system. So if I had a house, where do I buy from? Do I buy from October that sells the solar system to me?
[00:24:29.490] - Andreas
Absolutely. So if you're a homeowner and currently we're in seven countries, Norway, Sweden, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, and Germany.
[00:24:40.010] - Torsten
[00:24:40.570] - Andreas
If you're living in one of these countries, you can go into the local Otovo website. So for instance, in Germany, enter your home address and we would provide a live hot quote to you based on analysis of your roof if that's something that you find interesting, you can continue to sell process with one of our sales agents and we sign you the contract. Either it's for a purchase where you pay for it yourself, or get a loan with a bank partner to finance it. The more you enter into a leasing agreement where you lease the system from us on a fixed monthly pay, but we own it and service it if it's needed.
[00:25:31.830] - Torsten
Okay, interesting. So what about the administration part? Right. At least in Germany, I think it's similar. Most possibly in other countries, you need to apply for hook up to the grid and the tax issues, fat claims, all sorts of nasty bits and pieces that you have to take care of, particularly for those residential systems where the effort is quite large in comparison to the revenue you actually do with all the savings you actually do.
[00:26:11.110] - Andreas
That's true. Permitting is one of the things that drives the soft cost up for residential. Depending on the market. Some markets more permitting friendly than others, but both building permits, which is necessary in many markets, such as Spain, for instance, it's compulsory for all solar installations and grid connection permits, which is often not handled by the same body that handles the building permits. Those things will take time and resources and drives up the coast. So I think there's a lot of still in 2022, there's still a lot of room for improving, simplifying and homogenizing the permitting processes.
[00:27:00.410] - Torsten
And this is one of the key benefits you bring in as Otovo that you have fixed.
[00:27:09.510] - Andreas
So if the customer purchased from us, we would take care of the permitting process for him or on behalf of him. It's a little bit different from market to market, how that's structured. So some places the customer is the one that has to apply for the building permit, but you can do it on his or her behalf and get their signatures on the permitting application. The market is something that we just manage for them, and they don't even need to think about it at all.
[00:27:39.690] - Torsten
So if I lease a system from you, does it end at some point and I can buy the system for a Euro after 20 years or.
[00:27:52.610] - Andreas
That's how it is. So a solar installation has a lease period of 20 years.
[00:27:57.970] - Torsten
[00:28:00.950] - Andreas
And from market to market, there's a little bit different regulations on what needs to happen at the end of the lease period. But it's either a right of return. Right. So if you don't want the system anymore, we can come back with it. We're still too young to find out exactly where you can extend the lease for another five or ten years if you want to, or you can purchase it for a symbolic sum and take over the ownership. Most PVA installations will continue to work a lot longer than 20 years.
[00:28:36.290] - Torsten
Yeah. So what's the ratio between buying funding and leasing, what's the most popular choice?
[00:28:50.310] - Andreas
It's different from market to market. We don't reveal leasing rate of sales in all markets, but I can say that in some markets it's more than 50% leasing, whereas other markets is a very low portion of leasing. So far, we're working on improving that across the board.
[00:29:11.850] - Torsten
Yeah. So when you lease, Auto needs a lot of cash or somehow funding to provide that option. How do you do it? How did you get started in the beginning anyhow, with setting up the running the company?
[00:29:32.110] - Andreas
Those two funding processes are quite different, I think because we established for the first question, I mean, we established an asset cost, a company whose sole sort of purpose is to own at least out assets.
[00:29:47.150] - Torsten
[00:29:48.190] - Andreas
We established that a couple of years ago. It's called European Distributed Energy Assets. That's the name of the company that was actually funded by equity and loan. We very recently took that back in to Auto, and now we're again owning that company fully.
[00:30:13.090] - Torsten
But still in a separate entity, I guess for it's still a separate entity.
[00:30:17.080] - Andreas
But it's not owned full by Otovo.
[00:30:19.220] - Torsten
[00:30:19.740] - Andreas
And it's funded partially through equity and partially by loan. So that works quite well. Then you have long-term financial institutions that see that the rate of return you can get on a solar lease is attracting on the longer term. So it's a good long-term funding for banks.
[00:30:42.430] - Torsten
Okay. So the loan comes from banks or pension funds.
[00:30:46.510] - Andreas
Exactly. Yeah, exactly.
[00:30:48.680] - Torsten
Okay. And that part, is that publicly traded or is it like, how do you do the funding? Where does the equity come from? That asset owner?
[00:31:06.410] - Andreas
Yeah. We spun out this company a couple of years ago by getting in long-term investors on the equity side, such as pension funds and other companies that want long-term returns. Now through the sort of back buying of idea into the Otovo family. Of course, Otovo is taking more of that equity now, increasing the part that is funded by loans.
[00:31:38.990] - Torsten
[00:31:41.750] - Andreas
It's an interesting part of it because when we launched in 2016, we launched with the idea that leasing was an important part of the offering. We have seen what, for instance, SolarCity in the US was doing now owned by Tesla. And see how the US market. One of the big factors in growing the US residential market was the leasing offering. So that was the inspiration for us. And when we launched in 2016, we did that fully with leasing on our own balance sheet, which when you think about it in retrospect, it's a crazy thing to do for Starter, but it was fun. I was fully funded by our own savings and early investors into the company.
[00:32:31.560] - Torsten
Oh, wow. Okay. Interesting. Cool. So we're going backwards to Otovo. Who are the founders of Otovo? How did you guys meet and how did you finance the I don't know. The first computer. How did it all happen? In the beginning?
[00:32:56.610] - Andreas
Yeah. So we're four guys who started Otovo, Andreas, Steven Lars, and myself, and we got together a little bit by Andreas, our CEO, gathering the team that he wanted to start his company together with.
[00:33:15.650] - Torsten
Okay. So he casted a boy group.
[00:33:18.010] - Andreas
Exactly. He found us through his network and people he had studied with earlier, and we got together as a team and started this venture together. And in the beginning, we were funded by a bit of our own savings.
[00:33:40.050] - Torsten
[00:33:41.110] - Andreas
But very quickly, of course, went out and took him out.
[00:33:48.590] - Torsten
Just to give us an idea. Andreas called you once and then you met in a bar or how did it work?
[00:33:55.910] - Andreas
Yeah, exactly. Actually, Andreas called me out of the B. I didn't know him from before.
[00:34:02.330] - Torsten
So I know a number. And then you picked up and then. Exactly.
[00:34:06.580] - Andreas
Hey, I had this great idea for a solar company. Do you want to meet and discuss? Yeah, I was working as a consultant at a time and management consultant, so I agree to meet him. He explained to me what he wanted to do. I quite quickly got hooked on the idea, and I think we didn't even get through the first beer until I told him that I'm on board.
[00:34:32.100] - Torsten
You're on board.
[00:34:34.170] - Andreas
It was a pretty easy date for him, I think.
[00:34:40.330] - Torsten
And then soon later, you met the other guys. Cool.
[00:34:48.110] - Andreas
I made a plan for the company and sort of hooked together what we wanted to do. Our approach to building a company has, at least in the beginning, been a lot about doing we do things and then we figure out how to do it as we go. In a way, at least in the beginning, we didn't spend like months and years thinking about what we need to do before we did it. We knew which direction we wanted to go. We sort of built a minimum needed in order to start going there and then just run.
[00:35:26.690] - Torsten
Yeah. So what is the biggest learning, particularly from that initial phase or maybe let's go from today back to back then in that to that initial beer. What was the biggest learning? Maybe think of other listeners who think of building a company themselves.
[00:35:50.410] - Andreas
Yeah, I think we have a great idea. When we started, I think with the aspect of the online purchasing process for Solar, we started thinking about the aspects of the marketplace, but we didn't sort of have the basics of that figured out. So it took us a while before we got sort of the product market fit. I think in the first two years, we were maybe a little bit all over the place doing too many things, not focusing necessarily perfectly focused.
[00:36:28.550] - Torsten
[00:36:29.930] - Andreas
Take us in the right direction. So I think focusing on your core idea is something that we learned as we go to be better at paying not to think of jumping on all initiatives, accepting that there are market opportunities that you maybe don't want to address because there's something bigger that you're trying to solve.
[00:36:54.510] - Torsten
But at the same time, you need to try to see what is the biggest opportunity.
[00:37:01.070] - Andreas
Right. And that's the balance. Right. You have to find that good balance between the initial idea that you have is very seldom going to be the one that makes it at the end, maybe part of it or portions of it is still true. But there's going to be things that happen during the process that if not pivots you at least sort of nurses you in the right direction. So you have to be open to new things and be sort of jump and then figure out how to land afterwards. But the balance, of course, has to be there. Your resources are scarce when you begin, your funding is limited when you begin, you very easily run out of cash if you try to do too much. So I think in retrospect, we probably tried to do a little bit too much in the beginning and took this a little while before we had sort of figured out the basics of the company and what it is that we need to build in order to bring value to the table.
[00:38:03.870] - Torsten
So you started off with four guys and how many people are now working at Otovo?
[00:38:11.670] - Andreas
We are about 250 people now.
[00:38:14.480] - Torsten
Oh, wow. Okay.
[00:38:17.310] - Andreas
Growing every day. We're hiring essentially in all markets and centrally, constantly. We're launching three new countries now relatively soon. We have got public fee and said we're going to launch UK, Portugal, and Austria now relatively soon or on the ground and recruiting to speak.
[00:38:43.830] - Torsten
So how do you manage that growth? It's an art by itself, right. Particularly when you not grow only in your home country. But if you go to different countries, Ikea, I think is doing a great job, apparently, at least. And definitely, they are super successful in growing a company globally and kind of still maintaining the same company culture. Is that a topic for you? I guess it is, right. How do you do it? Do you take special measures how to manage that?
[00:39:24.990] - Andreas
I think it's a management super interesting topic, I think. And first, we have growth in two dimensions because we have growth growing the business of Otovo, like becoming more markets or growth in terms of expanding. But we also have growth within all the markets were in. So each of the markets are relatively new and are growing and building their business and growing the market share and growing their teams. So sort of growth in both directions at the same time. Our approach has been to have learned to have focus on getting really good teams locally, having super good general managers in each market, make sure they are set up to get talent in their teams because a lot of the things that needs to be done needs also to be figured out on the ground locally. And then there is the balance of local autonomy versus more central direction and central sort of standardization. I think it needs to be a bit of a balance. It's always good that you work in a similar fashion. You don't want to have sort of small arms that go in directions you can't control. In all the markets. They need to work more or less in the same manner.
[00:40:56.690] - Andreas
The basic value proposition towards the customer needs to be the same. The types of systems and products we use need to be similar culturally. It's great if they sort of share the same vision and approach that we do so that it doesn't become like a satellite. Right. It needs to be integrated properly, but still given enough room to figure out the things that make a difference in their market. And for residential solar in new Europe, the markets are not the same. There are different incentive schemes in almost all countries. There are different customer preferences, the competitors are different. The regulatory requirements are, although within more or less the same framework. They're slightly different between markets. So things need to be adjusted to work locally. But you need to do that in an organization that scales in a way the same way all over the place. Blueprint, if you will.
[00:42:02.130] - Torsten
Yeah. So you mentioned, of course, that choosing the right GM general manager for local entities is key. What are the criteria? How do you do it? How do you find your GM's for a new market like, say, Portugal?
[00:42:22.810] - Andreas
Yeah. We work with rich equipment companies of finding people and typically we have been fantastically successful at finding great talent as GM in all our markets. Also coming from marketplace, companies like electrical Scooter, companies like Lime, from marketplaces like Blah, Blah, car like Uber, we typically find talent in those type of businesses and find those. And they're all eager to join the October journey. I think they see that what we're doing is it makes a difference. It's an interesting and meaningful venture and I think we're on a quite interesting path. So I had great success in finding great people for our teams, luckily.
[00:43:21.670] - Torsten
Excellent. Wonderful. My classic final question is what do you think needs to be done to get solar to the next level? So is there anything you encounter at Otovo where you still see major blocks in rolling out solar or more on a global sale? What's on your mind for bringing solar to the next level?
[00:43:52.870] - Andreas
I would really like to see that the regulatory requirements and the permit process requirements get simplified even more. I know that many markets have worked quite well on this, but there still is a bit of a jungle of permitting processes needed, and it doesn't seem necessary anyway, if you will, because the systems that installed, they're quite standardized already. The components are standardized, the methods are relatively standardized, but we don't need that. Every municipality or every city has their own building regulation that limits how you need to do this. So I think that's one sort of thing to improve make it easier for homeowners to do that so that we can continue to lower the cost and make the business case better. The other part, of course, is which is maybe more of a shorter term issue and can become a longer term issue is the markets are growing and that puts strains on installation capacity on supply chains. Would like to see a lot more companies joining the installation business in all the markets, we're constrained to a certain extent by installation capacity and working very hard on growing installation capacity through finding new installers to helping the installers we do have scale up a bit more installance is needed to grow the residential business even further.
[00:45:38.210] - Torsten
All right, so it's getting rid of bureaucracy and we need more muscle to install all the solar modules.
[00:45:47.390] - Andreas
Yeah, absolutely. And if you're an installer company listening to this podcast, please do reach out and give you a call about joining our platform.
[00:46:00.530] - Torsten
Excellent. Hi, Andreas, thanks a lot for taking us on your solar journey. Thanks for giving the insights into October all the best looks pretty good. Catch up. Catch up soon and see how big Otovo is in, say, a year from now. Two years from now.
[00:46:20.930] - Andreas
Thank you, Torsten. Thanks for having me on your postcard. Pleasure to talk to you.
[00:46:25.620] - Torsten