SUNSTONE CREDIT

Streamlining Financing for Solar Energy Businesses 

Product Design | Marketing Website | Sales Enablment

Introduction

Sunstone Credit raised VC to solve one of the greatest threats facing humanity today — climate change. The future of our planet depends on transitioning to more sustainable carbon-free energy sources. Solar power is one the best, most cost-effective, and scalable ways to do this.
But going solar is easier said than done. Surprisingly, the real key to the world going green is actually financing….

The process is expensive and it can be difficult to navigate the complexities of government sponsored programs, tax incentives, and partnering with third parties.
This has led to the systematic exclusion of the SMBs who could make the biggest difference towards climate change and benefit from this technology the most.

That’s where Sunstone comes in. Their mission is to provide access to solar energy for small and medium sized businesses. This will help SMBs save money, reduce their electricity bills, and lessen their carbon footprint.

They created a tech platform that seamlessly connects SMBs who want to go solar, developers who can install the technology, and institutions who can finance the projects.

They partnered with us to design their platform to be simple and easy to use. Our task was to create a design system and best-in-class user experience that matched the technology on the backend. We also designed their marketing website and sales enablement assets.

The Challenge

In the last decade, the average cost of solar has gone down while the commercial prices of electricity have gone up which makes it difficult to implement solar energy solutions.

• Installers are without the finances and tools they need to easily close deals and grow businesses
• SMB borrowers do not have access to simple and efficient financing 

The Installers and Financial Institutions face a specific problem when  sourcing for solar services for businesses. The goal of sunstone as a product is to leverage its deep experience in solar installation and technology, along with its financial institution partnerships to build industry-leading products and services for the SMB sector.

The Goal

Sunstone is investing into continuous technological innovation and supply chain improvement.

They are connecting small and medium businesses, installers and financial institutions.

Sunstone’s objective as a product is simple and straightforward.

  • Create a smart solution for SMB businesses, Installers and Financial Institutions in the solar energy sector.

 

User Experience

We made sure to align with the client on the goal for both the business and the product to inform the design process.

Business goal

  • Installers offer different financing options for their customers.
  • Sunstone creates a way for Installers to grow their sales 

User goal

  • Need to be able to submit applications for specific properties
  • Installers must set APR/loan terms (“loan product”) to borrowers

Target Market

  • Regionalized solar installers
  • Borrowers (SMBs)

Considerations

  • Installers need a medium to connect with borrowers. The platform will act as the connector between businesses looking for loans to install solar energy solutions and Sunstone Credit.
  • Borrowers need a place to meet with the Installer. The platform acts as the place where the borrower can apply for financing. A borrower can have multiple applications for different properties and all of the can be managed from their dashboard.

Pain Points

  • Installers do not have the financing tools to easily close deals and scale businesses.
  • Small and Medium Businesses borrowers do not have simple, efficient and appealing finances to reduce costs.
  • Financial Institutions do not have access to loan growth and ESG lending opportunities.
  • SMB borrowers not being able to purchase solar systems from installers with loan products.
  • Financial Institutions not being able to receive access to SMB borrowers and attractive assets/yields.

The Onboarding Flow

In designing the content, our first step was getting the installer and businesses onboarded successfully. Think about Sunstone Applicant Portal as a shopify website for installers

Onboarding flow for installers:

  • Installer goes to: www.sunstonecredit.com/installer
  • Signs up with an email, password and get their own personal portal where they will route their customers (“borrowers”) to apply for loans, with the loan terms set by the installer.
  • The installer’s “Sunstone Applicant Portal” will be branded with the installer’s logo and sunstone’s logo
  • Installers log in to their account on the Applicant portal, fill out a form to invite borrowers
  • Once the installer submits a borrower for a new account initialization, the borrower will receive an email saying that the borrower has been invited to submit a loan application with the terms (“loan product”) agreed upon with the installer.
  • A link to the installer.sunstonecredit.com/login or signup page will be added to the email.

Onboarding flow for borrowers:

  • The borrower will be able to easily sign up for a new account via the link provided.
  • When the borrower signs into their account on the installer’s website, the borrower can start the application that was initialized by the installer with the terms decided on during the sales process.
  • The borrower can begin completing their loan application once signed in
  • The borrower can come back to see the status of their application from their dashboard

Key User Needs

We made sure to align with the client on the goal for both the business and the product, as these most times have connecting factors that must never be overlooked.

The Installer

  • Secure financing
  • Onboard borrowers
  • Generate revenue

The Borrower

  • Easily apply for financing
  • Manage multiple applications
  • Confirm and complete financing process

The Design

We designed the experience to be as simple as possible. You can manage everything from the dashboard with just a few clicks. 

As soon as the borrower signs up, they are able to initialize their application by inputting their  Property address, Borrower name and Tax ID. The application for a loan can then begin.

We also made it easy for installers For the installer, it is possible to sign up the borrower in four simple steps.

  • Click on new borrower
  • Fill in form fields
  • Update loan options
  • Click submit

Visual Design

The visual design for the project was meant to balance a classic, slightly more conservative aesthetic with the innovation that the platform provides. Our goal was for the design to feel trustworthy, simple, and intuitive. We built the color palette around this concept. To add a bit of creativity in our visuals, we created masked shapes inspired by solar panels to display images throughout the marketing assets. This was also a play off of the logo.

One Pager

We created a set of one pagers for the sales and partnerships team to use during pitch meetings or to send as takeaways. We designed these based on their sales process and requirements for sales enablement.

Pitch Deck

Once we completed the core design, development, and marketing deliverables we moved onto the pitch deck. We created a master pitch deck to empower the team during their fundraising. The team was able to take the deck and the MVP we designed to secure funding within 6 months.  They secured funding from Forbright Bank, Cross River Digital Ventures, Grotech Ventures, Early Light Ventures and the Maryland Momentum Fund

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