Thursday, August 6, 2009
Top 4 lessons from Solar Products @ Solarcity
Interesting points from Ben Tarbell, Director of Products, Solarcity, at Silicon Valley Product Management Association .
A quick and dirty post in 15 mins due to a commitment of 'Blog it, while it's hot'. Iterate and improve later.
Have a virtual portfolio of Solar stocks and all are down by 75 % , the Chinese companies had created massive production capacities and overestimated the demand for '08 to '10.
So on a personal level , it was interesting to check if this Solar market will be back, does it make sense to invest in them and as how these solar products are marketed and developed.
SolarCity 's core Offering is a turnkey Solar Power system.
Key points culled and summarized by Tags.
1 - Get a buy-in
Community based Programs to educate customers and government about a new product/technology concept.
( Tags - New prod development, customer education, influencing key decision makers)
2 - Innovate in extended User engagement
Innovative financial options to customers by introducing Solarlease to reduce ownership cost and to move the risk to the company. Solarcity formed a new financial structure or organization to fund this. Side effect was to create a Lease calculator to demonstrate energy savings.
( Tags - Low Barrier for customer, Going full speed to setup the echo system, Minimised risk for customer and created a win-win, copied by competitors, financial demo, understanding user's decision making process and helping him )
3 - Create Systems and track Metrics to deliver benefits.
Launched SolarGuard™, a graphical, Web-based energy monitoring system ,Monitoring is done through a wiressplatform.
( Tags - Efficient Monitoring system to help customers with enbergy savings, to track metrics and to optimize distribution and performance, provide proactive customer support, wireless is a smart leverage of tech, great dashboard not only for admin but for end user)
4- Identify the customer's cost components and Go beyond your own product's benefits.
Reducing ownership cost is a mantra and is a cliche by marketers without diving deep into the
cost components incurred by customer.
Solarcity suggests users to go for a mix of both conventional utility and solar so that the customer can be in lower tier and incur lower rates .
( tags : honest about product's offerings in reducing TCO and building a solution with other complimentary products)
Ben's experience in reputed product design firm IDEO is certainly reflected in these innovative solutions and ideas. But as he acknowledged too, Solarcity's competitors are catching up and moving ahead with social media . It would be interesting to see the next moves by this company.