Sofdesk, a shining example
“You only need to look at how the climate is behaving right now to know that turning towards renewable energy sources is non-negotiable. A company should fight for the causes that deserve its attention and inspire the community to get involved too. In any case, it’s when you do what you’re passionate about that you succeed,” explains Lennie Moreno, CEO of Sofdesk, Quebec leader in solar panel installation and roofing solutions.
Upon my arrival at Sofdesk on a rainy morning, I am met with a warm welcome. Lennie shows me around while recounting, with his charismatic smile and contagious energy, how the space has transformed since his company’s creation in 2013.
His 24-member team can enjoy various fun additions to their workplace: popcorn machine, foosball table, punching bag, indoor hockey and cold beer. The loft is also equipped with a retractable Murphy bed, where the founder spent his nights when Sofdesk first entered the business world…
With two key products, Solargraf and Roofgraf, Sofdesk facilitates the work of professionals in the solar and roofing industries.
Their clientele is spread across more than 30 US states and 5 Canadian provinces, including numerous solar installers and a growing number of roofers.
Sofdesk is accelerating the sale and implementation of solar energy systems in three steps: prospecting[j1] , which involves locating owners who are interested in exploring this option; providing an effective platform with which to simplify the preparation of proposals; and intalling and connecting the system.
This solar software company has teamed up with Genability to offer an interface that automatically identifies precise homeowner comsumption data. LightStream is also a partner for project financing.
With their made-to-measure solutions, Sofdesk manages the entire process for SMEs, enabling companies to automate every step with a very user-friendly structure that is completely mobile. This approach contributes to the profitability of the companies using their products, thus increasing Sofdesk’s credibility with their clients.
Under the California sun
Lennie has worked in Quebec’s solar industry since 2009, making him a veteran of the field. As a former rep for solar energy projects, then an installer, he has the ideal experience to help Sofdesk succeed. “I speak the client’s language, which gives us a major competitive advantage,” he notes.
Before they assumed a key role in the industry with more than 2,000 users, Sofdesk had to get creative to ensure their growth.
By building on the talent of their VP of Engineering, Maxime Fafard, the company was able to create their first viable product in March 2016. Despite the completion of due diligence, local investors remained undecided. “The end of the month was always really tough,” recalls Lennie.
Determined, the CEO jumped into his car to head to Los Angeles, where he added 17 new companies to his client list. In Montreal, Sofdesk reps redoubled their efforts as well, attaining a list of 45 clients. Lennie continues to develop his business in California, which is his largest market.
After his trip South, Lennie met EnerTech Capital[j2] at their annual conference. “Investors evaluate the timing of a product, as well as whether the team is solid and led by a strong leader. I think that’s why EnerTech chose to encourage us,” he explains. BCD Venture Capital also became a key partner and both companies contribued $3 million to Sofdesk.
In order to actualize his project, this solar expert also called upon Passeport innovation, the IRAP program, CRVI, CRIM and CEIM, as well as the CDAE and SR&ED tax incentives.
Lennie intends to lead Sofdesk toward market dominance before the end of 2018. He plans do this in close collaboration with his VP of Operations, François Pierre, and a Board of Directors composed of several pillars of the solar industry and the investment sector.
“There are so few subsidies to encourage the sector in Quebec that it’s very difficult to opt for solar energy when you live here, unless you’re off the Hydro-Quebec grid,” mentions Lennie. “It’s more profitable elsewhere in Canada because of government subsidies and the higher price of kilowatt hours, making it a more appealing option for users,” he specifies.
Eager to see the alternative energy sector gain momentum here, Lennie enjoys sharing his experiences with other Montreal companies. “I would have loved to know more entrepreneurial mentors when I started,” he says. Motivating and mobilizing the troops is rather second nature for the Sofdesk CEO, who was a rapper before becoming an entrepreneur. So grabbing the mic in front a crowded conference hall is by no means a huge feat for him.
Translated : Jenn Mierau