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Name: Fabrizio Chiara
What are you building, and who benefits most from it?
With the patented See Beyond technology, Sunspeker transforms any surface into a solar system, radically changing the concept of photovoltaic panels.
We are an Italian startup based in Turin, but the aesthetic issue conflicting with regulations to protect the beauty of landscapes and historic centers is not unique to our location. Our “wrapping” allows for the creation of personalized covers that envelop the solar panels, making them not only a solution for generating clean energy but also aesthetic elements that can increase adoption and, in some cases, provide a new way to generate economic value through advertising while safeguarding the environment.
We want to change the world for the better, and we believe that the significant impact of renewable energy can truly make it better. Our idea is to cover every solar panel on the planet to support the energy transition without destroying the beauty that surrounds us, ensuring a better future for everyone and the planet itself by reducing CO2 emissions and other climate-altering gases.
What is one of your startup’s most impressive accomplishments?
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Sunspeker was founded in 2020 and for a period of about two years invested its own capital in research and development with the aim of creating a solution that enhances the aesthetics of solar panels. During this time, it invented two technologies (which are the subject of industrial patents) capable of completely eliminating the visual impact of solar panels without compromising their efficiency. The first is SBSC (See Beyond Static Cover), an aesthetic film, while the second technology is digital and is called IEDS (Invisible Energy Digital Screen).
SBSC is a customizable adhesive cover that protects the panel from weather events and prevents its aging. In addition to enhancing the integrated panel aesthetically, it maintains high solar efficiency and is compatible with almost all panels currently on the market.
IEDS, on the other hand, represents a complete paradigm shift in the digital screen industry. We realized that the world is becoming increasingly digitized but also requires sustainable energy to avoid environmental impact. IEDS is the first dynamic digital screen that self-generates energy from the sun, creating the possibility of transforming advertising billboards into energy structures with positive thermal and electrical impacts from an environmental perspective, thereby increasing the economic value of outdoor advertising with significant economic benefits.
In the last three years, we have achieved significant R&D milestones and successfully raised capital with the support of the Italian Innovation Fund as our partner. We have also launched the SBSC technology in the market through industrial partnerships and acquired our first customers in Italy and Europe.
What has been the biggest challenge so far, and how did you overcome it?
Launching a startup is never easy, especially when starting in Italy, where the ecosystem is still developing. After the initial research and development phase, one of the major challenges has been raising the first batch of capital that is now enabling us to approach the market.
An industrial company like ours requires substantial investments to enter a market dominated by huge competitors. Currently, after securing the initial investment from HabiSmart, an investment vehicle of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, we have launched a seed round to raise new funding to accelerate the development of our business and compete on an equal footing with all our rivals.
We have no shortage of ideas and solutions; what we need now is the funding to invest in industrialization and bring new talent into our team. It is crucial to remember that we are a company born out of research and, therefore, to continue investing in new products as well.
What tool or app could you not live without and why?
Our activities are industrial in nature, but we have always been accustomed to working with agile solutions, even remotely. We manage every task using smart working tools and solutions, which allow us to interact with clients and partners wherever they may be. However, certain operations related to production and R&D require in-person work. That is why, thanks to the funds we will raise, we intend to continue creating the best working conditions for ourselves and for the people who will soon be joining our team.
What marketing strategies have worked for you?
Firstly, we analyzed the market to identify our positioning within it. Our product is versatile but focuses specifically on the integrated photovoltaic market (BIPV). The customization factor allows us to fit into the premium category, and leveraging this element, we utilize our customers as ambassadors for our company.
We participate in the most important industry and innovation fairs to make ourselves known and allow people to experience the quality of our products. In June, we will be present at Intersolar in Munich, Viva Technology in Paris, and We Make Future in Rimini. The company’s social media platforms are used as a means to initiate initial contact with the customer, which is then managed internally by our sales department.
Can you share any financial data about your startup?
To date, Sunspeker has:
- Invested over 100,000 euros in research and development activities
- Registered three patents for industrial inventions
- Produced over 200 square meters of aesthetic covers
- Closed four industrial partnerships.
- Installed over 20kWp of solar panels
- Raised 150,000 euros in capital; we are currently raising another seed round of 450,000 euros, of which 150,000 euros have already been secured. (Reported on May 11, 2023.)
What has been your biggest business failure to date? What did you learn from it?
In my previous entrepreneurial endeavors, the biggest failure was recruiting the wrong people for the development of the startup. The greatest challenge for anyone in business remains finding the right individuals to launch a project from scratch and lead it to success. It is often said that the idea accounts for only 1%, and the remaining 99% is the flawless execution of the plan. That’s the truth, which is why the search for talented individuals to bring on board a startup remains a real and significant challenge for aspiring entrepreneurs.
What’s the best specific piece of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?
There is no precise formula for success, but one thing is certain—making mistakes, trying again, making mistakes, and trying again until the right solution is found. Only those who have the courage to challenge themselves can truly say they have succeeded.
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