Berlin-based greentech startup Zolar aims to be synonymous with solar energy; secures additional €15M

The world is increasingly growing aware of the detrimental effects of fossil fuel and is actively seeking an alternative. Solar energy is one of the key alternative sources of energy and the technology behind harnessing it is getting economical and accessible with each passing year. 

According to the EC, due to a solid industrial foundation, solar power has fast become one of the cheapest technologies for electricity generation worldwide. Between 2009 and 2018, the costs of production decreased by 75% while the market continued to expand. It also mentions that in 2018, the EU solar market grew by 8GW, and by an estimated 15-17GW in 2019. The solar market is expected to continue to grow from 2020 onwards, making solar capacity a cornerstone of the clean energy transition. 

EU has also been increasingly adopting photovoltaics. It is a method to harness solar energy and convert it into electrical energy via solar cells, involving a physicochemical phenomenon called the photovoltaic effect. As per the EC, the technology is being widely used globally and contributes to a large part of the EU’s energy mix. In 2018, the EU output of photovoltaic electricity reached 127 TWh, amounting to 3.9% of the EU’s gross electricity output. Treading the photovoltaic route is a Berlin-based greentech startup called Zolar, and it just raised an additional €15M.

Sun, solar, and Series B 

Zolar has received an additional €15M from its current investors as part of an expansion of the Series B financing round. The total investment of the Series B round launched in 2019 has increased to €25M.  

Czech venture capital fund Inven Capital, which specialises in greentech, led this funding round once again. Previous investors Heartcore Capital, Statkraft Ventures, BayWa r.e. Energy Ventures and Partech also participated in this round. Zolar will utilise this fresh capital to speed up the scaling of the business model as well as to prepare for international expansion in the coming years. It also plans on further optimising its own digital partner platform – the Zolar Project Center. 

“The new funding paves the way for us to become the go-to company for clean energy and individual solar systems, to expand internationally and to establish ourselves as a data provider”, says, Alex Melzer, CEO of Zolar.

Harnessing the sun

Zolar was founded in 2016 by Alex Melzer and Gregor Loukidis. It offers photovoltaic systems, which homeowners are able to custom plan, compare, and order online, at a fixed price.

According to the company, by using the Zolar online configurator, homeowners are able to customise the components of their solar energy system according to their needs and will receive a personal consultation at the same time from one of its solar energy experts. It has also partnered with local companies in order to provide installation services on-site. Zolar claims that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the startup has been able to double its revenue compared to the previous year.

Back in 2017, the company raised €4M in Series A financing round. “The more we grow, the faster we can revolutionize the energy industry together with our customers and help to avert the climate crisis. Zolar stands for climate protection straight from the bat, we want to be the catalyst for an energy revolution in every household,” Melzer adds. 

Image credits: Zolar

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London-based real estate investment platform IMMO raises additional €3 million to support its European expansion

The London-based startup IMMO today announces that it has raised €3 million additional capital from FinTech Collective and Surplus Invest in its oversubscribed Series A financing round. The investment brings the total Series A to €14 million, and saw participation from prominent investors like Talis Capital and HV Holtzbrinck Ventures. IMMO also counts Tom Stafford & Rahul Mehta of DST Global and Mato Peric among its early investors. On top, the startup has already raised over €60 million in real estate capital for deployment through its residential real estate platform.

Founded in 2017 by Hans-Christian Zappel, Samantha Kempe and Avinav Nigam, IMMO buys residential properties directly from consumers on behalf of professional investors, thereby providing investors with desired real estate exposure at scale. IMMO homes are fully renovated and often furnished, meaning tenants enjoy quality, long term rental homes that are professionally managed. IMMO’s vision is to become “Your housing partner for life”, as it helps people to sell, rent and invest into real estate. Through the covid crisis, the company has been investing heavily into new technologies and innovations that help to simplify real estate transactions. From virtual 360 viewings, online credit checks and digital contracts for renters that are relocating thousands of miles, all the way to data-driven investing with confidence in unknown cities at the touch of a button, IMMO is turning the traditional real estate sector on its head.

The additional capital comes at an exciting time as IMMO accelerates its investments platform to offer up more markets across Europe, and develop the full technology suite from acquisitions to asset management. The startup, which is already active in the UK and Germany, says that the appetite for residential real estate has only been growing among institutional investors, many of whom are looking at the covid crisis as an opportunity to focus on safe haven, yield generating asset classes.

Professional investors love residential real estate due to its attractive risk-adjusted returns profile, however deploying capital at scale is very challenging despite the fact that residential is the largest asset class in the world (€39 trillion in Europe alone). Single units account for 94% of all residential real estate transactions5, but as valuing and acquiring 1,000s of single units has so far been practically impossible, investors were restricted to deploying in the very limited market of portfolios and multi-family developments. IMMO has built the technology to source, appraise and acquire single units at scale, thereby opening up single unit residential real estate as a new asset class for institutional investors. Over €60 million in capital has already been raised from real estate investors to deploy through the company’s residential real estate platform.

In the past year, IMMO has assessed over 10,000 property leads (€3.5 billion) using proprietary machine learning technology, reducing the underwriting process from days to a matter of minutes. IMMO’s inspection team collects close to 300 data-points for every property. The IMMO Intelligence combines this property level data with millions of environmental data-points such as traffic nodes, crime statistics, school/restaurant/airbnb ratings, distance to supermarkets etc. to come up with an offer price for the seller. It is this speed and accuracy that allows IMMO to buy properties at scale directly from sellers.

Hans-Christian Zappel CEO & Founder of IMMO stated: “Now more than ever before, we find that investors are looking to residential as a safe haven investment asset class. We have built a sourcing, renovations and property management machinery that allows us to quickly assemble €100-500m sized residential portfolios, made up of single unit assets in a matter of months, that generate very attractive stable returns almost instantly. The demand for residential is increasing, and we are confident to deploy scalable capital and generate superior-to-market returns for our investors across European markets. Our proprietary IMMO Intelligence technology helps investors target specific locations within any European city, to get their desired risk-return exposure. The success of Single-Unit-Residential (SUR) as an investment asset class in markets like the US has been very encouraging for us.”

Jannis Roser, Managing Partner at Surplus Invest, commented: “The IMMO team has impressed us with their outstanding and highly complementary expertise relevant to all areas of the business. IMMO is uniquely positioned to open up residential real estate as an asset class for institutional investors by overcoming previously existing barriers to entry through the intelligent use of technology and data.”