CASE STUDY

Grape Solar case study

Grape Solar grows 700 percent by making solar tech a retail buy

Ocean Yuan had a vision when creating Grape Solar — make renewable energy technology affordable and accessible for consumers. Traditionally, renewable energy has been sold to enterprises rather than for personal use. However, for Yuan to accomplish his goal, he had to transform how renewable energy is sold. “We’re one of the only solar companies that sell through retailers,” says Jack Caruso, Project Executive for Grape Solar. “It’s sad, but we’re one of the few solar companies that you can call and speak to someone in the office, in the US,” he adds.

After being in business for three years, Grape Solar has grown revenue by 700 percent, performing better than larger companies in the industry. Renewable energy is rapidly evolving, with new technology becoming more affordable and efficient, observes Caruso. Just in the last decade, energy generation from solar increased 5,000 percent.

“The goal of solar is to achieve grid parity. Where it just makes sense to do it. The real goal is to keep driving down pricing so that solar can outprice everything else,” says Caruso.

Grape Solar constantly competes with large solar companies for shared suppliers. As a result, it becomes tricky to maintain a stable, reliable source but not buy too much inventory at once.

“Terms are huge for us. A lot of times, when you are developing a new relationship with manufacturers, it requires upfront money before it ships, so at best you get 30-day terms,” explains Caruso of Grape Solar’s situation prior to partnering with C2FO. “You have to develop pipelines to get terms that help you with your cash flow, and to make sure you are getting paid for your goods either before, or at the same time, as you pay your suppliers,” he adds.

“Cash flow and inventory are pretty much the number one and two for most important things. C2FO is a dependable way you can leverage current sales. C2FO is a good way for us to move some cash. It’s more competitive than getting a loan from a bank. It’s just another tool you can use to diversify the options you have.”  — Jack Caruso, Project Executive for Grape Solar

 

Challenges:

  1. Often has terms with suppliers that are shorter than terms with customers
  2. Competes with bigger companies for same limited set of Tier 1 suppliers
  3. Needs to be able to move cash quickly to access pricing on inventory

Why they use C2FO:

  1. Take control of cash flow
  2. Meet shorter terms for suppliers, ensure continuity of inventory
  3. Take advantage of low cost of inventory and selling at a competitive price

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