After providing access to clean, smart and free electricity via solar, ZunRoof is now ensuring efficient utilisation of this energy through its IoT devices
ZunRoof’s genesis can be traced back to the long hours of power cuts that co-founder Pranesh Chaudhary sweated through, growing up in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. “Our lives seemed to come to a stop… having experienced this personally and realising that electricity expense is a costly affair for households, it inspired me to ensure that no house in India lives without affordable electricity,” says Chaudhary, who in 2016, set it up along with Sushant Sachan, both IIT Kharagpur alumni.
ZunRoof is now one of India’s largest residential solar energy rooftop installers; however, providing access to clean, smart and free electricity via solar was only the first half of the problem, the second half involved efficient utilization of this energy through IoT (Internet of Things). So, the next quest was to fulfill the increasing demand for affordable solutions in the smart homes segment.
“We are solving energy issues by using a renewable source of energy but that is not enough if people waste the same clean energy with outdated tech and appliances. So, we are helping Indian homes automate and utilise energy efficiently through in-house developed IoT-enabled hardware and accompanying apps,” he says.
For over two years now, ZunRoof’s R&D team has been working towards leveraging IoT and efficiency in energy utilisation. “In September 2020, we launched our home automation division, zunpulse,” says Chaudhary. “We are now operating in three segments that include ZunRoof (residential rooftop segment catering to urban areas), zunsolar (offering a wide range of solar products specifically designed for rural area needs) and zunpulse (a complete smart home solution to utilise electricity in an efficient manner),” he says.
The startup has created an IoT enabled hardware range that includes 11 smart devices under four categories—lighting, security, control, and purifiers—all of them working with one single app over Wi-Fi and not needing any wiring change at all in homes (a major limiting factor in usual home automation firms). These plug-and-play devices include smart bulb, smart plug, smart AC remote, smart TV remote, energy monitor, smart video doorbell, smart camera and smart plug among others. For instance, with its IoT device, a home owner can now schedule her AC to automatically turn off at 3:00 am every night and thus save energy bills, check if she forgot to turn off the AC while leaving for the office and identify energy saving opportunities through the energy monitor.
Chaudhary explains that for IoT products, there are three major angles – software, hardware and firmware. Hardware and software are dependent upon the extent of backward integration one can do, that’s what makes for the differentiating factor and that’s what stops one from being dependent on external help. “We are at different levels of backward integration for different products – for energy monitor and smart bulb, the pollution sensor is entirely made in India so we develop them in-house,” he says. “But for other products, the hardware side chips and sensors are not currently manufactured in India.”
The IoT market in India is expected to reach $15 million by 2020 – nearly 5% of the total global market. However, the global IoT market is expected to reach $1,386.06 billion by 2026 from $761.4 billion in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 10.53%, during the forecast period (2021-2026) as per a recent report by Mordor Intelligence. “”So far, we have empowered more than 50,000 Indian homes with IoT devices and are on a mission to empower 5 million Indian homes through IoT in the next five years,” he adds.
The Gurgaon based startup has raised Rs 28.2 crore from the Godrej family fund in combined pre-Series A and Series A funding. It has also raised Rs 3.25 crore from angel investors including Ramakant Sharma, founder of Livspace, Pradeep Tharakan of ADB, Gaurav Gupta, partner at Dalberg and IIT Kharagpur seniors, along with a grant from USICEF.