Journey to the sun

By Our Reporter
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Abhisshek Shah and Subhojit Sil
Jospephs Gate

Abhisshek Shah, co-founder of AppSolar, on how he got into the renewable energy business

When Abhisshek Shah decided he was going to shoot for the stars, there was only one he was aiming for—the sun. And that was how Shah, the co-founder & director of AppSolar, decided he was going to make his mark in the world.

Born and raised in Mumbai, Abhisshek moved to Sydney in 2012, to reunite with his family as his elder sister was already living there.

“I always wanted to start a debt management firm and so began working as a senior debt collector with Baycorp in 2013, and continued there for the next decade. I was familiar with the profession as when I was doing my bachelor’s degree I tried my hand at it,” says Abhisshek.

When he was laid off in 2013, a friend recommended he start working as a solar sales consultant for Euro Solar. “This is how my journey in the solar industry began and it has brought me this far in the last six years.”

Abhisshek with Ram Menon

Abhisshek started going out on the field along with installers and electricians, and slowly grew into the top salesperson. “I had already developed a keen knowledge of the solar industry and in 2015, decided to set up the NSW business for the Queensland-based Sunlight Power.”

Through Sunlight Power, Abhisshek learned other aspects of the business and met the owners of Inverter Solar, who imported solar panels from China. When Sunlight Power decided to stop their NSW business, Abhisshek began working for Inverter Solar as retails manager for NSW managing a team of 20 lead generators and sales representatives. A friend from Brisbane, Subhojit Sil, joined him in 2015 as sales manager.

In August that year, Subhojit and Abhisshek decided to start their own sales company Devine Sales and Marketing, selling solar products for various companies including his previous employers.

The following year, Abhisshek started his own electrical company selling and installing solar products. “We rebranded the sales company Shah & Sil Pty Ltd T/A AppSolar in April 2016 and also started AppSolar LLP later that year in India,” says Abhisshek.

In India they did two projects on Jain temples in Mumbai. In Australia they started with a bang with their first job being an off-grid solar system in May 2016.

“Since then we have never looked back. We also hired a full time electrician and solar installer, Greg Milts, around the same time so that it makes it easier for us to manage quality standards. I had learned a lot from my previous experience at other solar companies regarding cheap quality products that were being sold and installed in the market. This is what brought us to start our own business and only concentrate on quality products.”

“During the first couple of months we only had one sales person, Anthony Wilson, besides Subhojit and me. The three of us made enough sales to keep Greg busy doing the installation. Subhojit and I managed the marketing and post sales collectively along with making sales regularly. This is when we realised the power of Facebook and started marketing our products on social media,” says Abhisshek.

In October 2017 they started their first regional office in Narrabri NSW and have been servicing the Namoi Region since then.

Abhisshek with Nayan Patel

“At AppSolar we currently have electrical engineers working with us to assist better with customer and technical support. All our installers believe in quality and have trained to maintain the standards that we set aside right from our first off-grid job which was worth $40,000 at the time. The company grew 300% just in the second year and curve has been upward since then.”

Their focus on quality products led them to work with different panel manufacturers from Taiwan (Winaico), South Korea (Hanwha Q Cells) and America (SunPower). “We also started dealing with only German made SMA Inverter and Austrian made Fronius Inverters to ensure we only install the best products. In Australia we do face issues with shading on residential and commercial rooftops hence we also started installing SolarEdge Inverters which are Israeli based and minimise the effect of shading on the whole system. We also work with reputed Finance company like Brighte which provides with various finance options to our customers who don’t want to pay for the system upfront.”

Their efforts in terms of quality have resulted in AppSolar getting a 4 star plus rating across all solar review websites and a whopping 5 star rating on Facebook. “Today, more than 50% of our sales in Sydney is through referrals alone for clients I have been personally servicing since 2015. The products supplied by us also have great rating and well respected in the solar industry.”

✹ How solar works

Solar panels convert sunlight into DC power which then goes through an Inverter that converts the power in AC which can be used for household loads saving roughly $0.25/kWh on their electricity bill. Any unused power that very second is sold back in to the grid and the electricity retailer reimburses for that by paying anywhere between $0.08/kWh to $0.20/kWh depending on the retailer and the homeowners negotiation with them. With evolution of energy storage systems, batteries help to store that unused power which can be later used at the night time once the sun goes down and the system stops generating.

✹ Our biggest installation

The biggest residential roof top system installed in Sydney by AppSolar is a $60,000 worth 25kW Grid Connected System using only the best components. It was installed in 2017 at West Pymble which till now is one of the biggest residential rooftop solar PV systems in Sydney.

TIMELINE

  • Abhisshek completed his Bachelors in Commerce in 2007 from HR College of Commerce and Economic in Mumbai
  • He completed his foundation course for CA
  • In 2008, Abhisshek decided to come to Australia to do his Masters in Commerce (Professional Accounting) from Griffith University
  • In 2010, Abhisshek did his post graduate diploma in Financial Management from CQU (Brisbane campus) and applied for his PR
  • During his university days Abhisshek worked as a door knocker selling electricity products.
  • Worked for CPM Australia from 2008 to 2009
  • Worked for Salmat from 2010 to 2013
  • In 2016, the AppSolar journey began….

 

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