Spanish startup RatedPower accelerates the way for solar energy
How three founders expedited the design process to a more sustainable future
Andrea Barber had a singular vision: to create a cleaner and more sustainable energy model. After years of working in the sustainable energy industry in her native Spain, Brazil, Chile, and the United States, Andrea realized there was a huge global bottleneck in designing solar energy plants. Breaking ground on a new plant anywhere in the world requires an incredible multidisciplinary effort to design the structure, including spreadsheets, drawings, reports, diagrams, and blueprints. Andrea and her cofounders Miguel Ángel Torrero and Juan Romero developed a solution: a cloud-based software called pvDesign to automate and optimize the study, analysis, design, and engineering of photovoltaic plants in minutes instead of weeks. The SaaS platform offers a faster, more automated, accurate, and reliable method than traditional engineering, improving the profitability of users assets. Their startup, RatedPower, allows companies considering solar energy to use pvDesign to calculate the most efficient and optimal arrangement of solar installation based on their location, topography, solar radiation, and electrical configuration in seconds—in turn reducing manual and mechanical costs along the way.
When the RatedPower team began shopping around their cloud software, potential customers were blown away by pvDesign’s efficiency. 25% of the companies that signed up for the two week trial would purchase a full license, and before long, they were servicing dozens of clients in multiple countries. But as they onboarded more and more customers, the RatedPower cofounders realized that while they all had exceptional industry expertise, none of them had experience in managing or scaling a startup.
Luckily, all three were already very familiar with the nearby Google for Startups Campus Madrid. Andrea and the team had been working in the Campus Madrid cafe from the early stages of their startup, where they networked with other founders in varying industries. RatedPower had also participated in a startup incubator partnered with Tetuan Valley, a program for early stage startups located within the Campus Madrid space. Later, they entered Seedrocket, an accelerator for startups which also has a space within the Campus but focuses on bringing industry experts and investors to become mentors for participants. After both of these programs, Andrea applied to Google for Startups Residency, a six month hands-on, customized program to help growth stage founders like Andrea scale their companies. The Residency allowed them to make Campus their official home and gave them dedicated facetime with industry experts and Google mentors to help them solve every startup’s most pressing challenges: fundraising, hiring, and scaling.
“It was the most helpful part of Residency: a healthy support system of founders, Googlers, and mentors that we could ask for help from any day of the week.”
Google for Startups connected Andrea and her team to a supportive community, right when they needed it. As Andrea says, “it was the most helpful part of Residency: a healthy support system of founders, Googlers, and mentors that we could ask for help from any day of the week.” She adds that managing an entire startup is very different from managing a singular team, the latter of which she was highly accustomed to already from her time at her previous company opening offices in multiple countries. “When you’re a startup, you feel a lot of loneliness sometimes because you’re always trying to solve new problems. But now I can ask other founders for help and insight.” For Andrea, the loneliness included being an anomaly in the sustainable energy industry: being a woman CEO for an energy tech company. During Residency, she met a host of fellow women founders passionate about their startups—many of whom she still calls upon, often for advice and celebration. Andrea and the RatedPower team are now active members of the Google for Startups Alumni community opening up their network to even more founders to share and exchange knowledge.
“Being part of the Google For Startups Residency program has given us the necessary push to start scaling our business,” Andrea says. RatedPower learned how to implement Object Key Results (OKRs) into their team’s yearly vision as well as their quarter-to-quarter plans. The team tripled, and today it is made up of more than 30 full time employees from 10 different nationalities, half of the team being women. During the program, they achieved one of their greatest achievements to date: the European Commission awarded them close to 2 million euros in non-refundable funds in the prestigious Phase 2 of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument. Along with Google Analytics and Ads which RatedPower uses to increase their customer conversion rates, they also use Google Earth for their software, allowing their engineers and software designers to design and implement solar plants anywhere in the world.
The RatedPower software is available in five languages (English, French, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish), has now been used in over 130 countries and claims more than 10,000 projects completed in just three years since the company officially started. This translates into 800 GW of power developed - the equivalent of 9 million households. This means an annual reduction of 12 million tons of CO2 and an annual decrease of 18 million oil barrels. For Andrea and her cofounders, the success of RatedPower only illustrates the desire for better and more sustainable energy throughout the world and they are grateful to be at the forefront of a solution to that desire. She says, “We don’t see ourselves as that special - we’re just doing what we think we ought to be doing to help our planet.”