Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Neosun Energy’s Global Expansion: How Ilya Likhov is Revolutionizing Solar Power

Ilya Likhov – hi-tech entrepreneur, visionary, founder and CEO of Neosun Energy – an International fast-growing solar EPC and manufacturing company whose approach can change the global energy market. He is a distinguished authority in the field of Solar Energy, hi-tech, and international business strategy with over 20 years of hands-on experience. Today we will talk about his ideas, mission and why entrepreneurs are passionate about impact business.

Mr. Likhov, you are building a global business and developing an international brand. Why did you choose this path?

I have a dream. I want to literally make people’s lives on our planet better. Not just abstractly reduce a carbon footprint, but taking real actions to help particular people. I want to have the ability to invest in research in fields like medicine, genetics, robotics and space. To create for example a cure that can help specific individuals beat cancer and other diseases. To extend our lives up to 300 or 500 years or even more and improve the quality of our lives, once again – literally. And I understand that for such goals, I need a lot of resources and a lot of money.

Setting such ambitious goals is asking to create a strong time-lined road map to reach them. What needs to be done? My answer lies in building a billion-dollar business in certain industries.

Right now, I’m building a business in solar energy. Firstly, because I understand that this sector also has a significant impact on particular people’s lives and helps enterprises operate in any corner of the world. With solar energy, people even in the most remote corners of the planet can gain access to water and electricity. And it can already make a fundamental difference in the quality of their lives. However, for me, this energy business is a kind of first step in building a global umbrella brand with a billion revenue and the initial phase towards achieving my dream.

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What inspired you to start Neosun Energy? How did you start?

Before founding Neosun Energy in 2015, I ran a successful marketing business in China for almost five years. We helped local hi-tech brands break into European and US markets, achieving many projects I’m proud of. However, scaling this business was challenging, and I aspired to build a global company. This marketing experience was invaluable: by creating distribution channels for others and witnessing their success, I learned how to establish distribution for my own company. Thus, we already had a crucial component: the know-how to build effective distribution networks.

I was looking for a product that had no local boundaries, and solar energy fit perfectly—it’s needed everywhere. Even in Greenland, where sunlight is abundant, delivering fuel beyond the Arctic Circle is very challenging. Today, Neosun Energy operates in 16 countries and counting. Our solutions help businesses cut down on electricity costs and increase profitability. Plus, they enable entrepreneurship in remote areas where traditional energy sources aren’t viable.

How does Neosun Energy’s business model differ from others in the solar industry?

The energy sector is quite conservative. Neosun Energy is entering this market with a completely new approach and business model. We are essentially disrupting the market by bringing in ideas usually used by IT giants. Today, Neosun is building a global solar EPC brand. We aim to be a company like Starbucks or McDonald’s but in the Solar Energy industry. We are opening branches worldwide to capture the largest market share possible.

We are growing globally with unified standards, creating a strong umbrella brand. At the same time, we act locally by bringing our standards to regional markets. This is essentially a “franchise model” that allows us to stand out among thousands of local competitors and offer high-quality service and low prices to our end customers.

Unlike small local companies, we enter the market with significant confidence and experience. In South Africa, for instance, there are about 7,000 solar companies, but most are small operations with limited professional capabilities.

The solar market today is seeking consolidation and this model helps us capture a large market share, scale quickly, and rapidly increase sales and revenue. This makes us attractive to the huge Chinese suppliers who are willing to lower their prices for us. And since we go directly to the customers, we can lower prices for the end users, disrupting the market not only in terms of price but also in service quality and company growth speed.

This makes us similar to companies like McDonald’s or Starbucks which enter markets and push out local players, taking a significant market share.

On the other hand, as a company that can invest in global marketing, we strengthen our brand. Additionally, we focus on building and optimizing logistics and internal management systems including using AI solutions. All these aspects make us an efficiently operating and fast-growing business.

What have your results been so far?

As I mentioned earlier, we are currently building a global business. Neosun Energy projects have been implemented in 16 countries around the world. To date, the company has opened offices in China, the UAE, Pakistan, and South Africa.

Previously, we also had our offices in Russia. We became the number one player in the commercial segment of the Russian market. We worked with major companies like Adidas, FIFA, McDonald’s, and Allianz insurance company, as well as with leading developers. In many regions of Russia, we built the largest private solar power stations.

However, in 2022, due to objective reasons, I had to sell the business in Russia. At that time, many large international companies decided to exit, and I also decided to focus on expanding in global markets where the demand for solar energy projects is much higher. For example, in regions like the Middle East and Africa.

What are your immediate development plans?

We are focused on expanding our global presence and disrupting the solar energy market. This year, we plan to open 6 to 8 new branches.

In addition to those open offices I mentioned above, we aim to expand to Mexico, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Malaysia by year’s end. Next year, we plan to add 20 more branches, including in Latin America, Europe, and the United States.

Speaking of your global connections, would you say that your approach to employee recruitment chain sourcing is quite global as well?

Yes, actually, according to our business model, we have a headquarters that acts as a managing department overseeing all other branches, and we have strong local teams in each branch. The headquarters team includes employees from all over the world. For example, some are from the US, some from Argentina, some from Greece, and some from Pakistan. If we talk about the branches, the staff in those branches are mostly local. For instance, in our Pakistan branch, all team members are Pakistani. The same is true for South Africa. They understand their markets, they know the local nuances, and they know how to work with local clients, which is very important. At the same time, we maintain common standards and adhere to those standards in the local markets as well.

So, we have people with experience in the local region, and at the strategic level at headquarters, it’s a fusion of different perspectives and experiences, bringing together strong professionals from around the world.

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Mr. Likhov was welcomed as a speaker in the panel discussion at Dubai “Future Innovation Summit”

How do you view the future of the renewable energy market? What is the scale?

The world is experiencing a major energy shift—from large-scale thermal, coal, and nuclear power plants to smaller, localized solar and wind plants. To understand the scale, according to Bloomberg statistics, more than $623 billion has been invested in the renewable energy market in 2023, up from $495 billion the previous year. Interestingly, the largest investors in wind and solar energy are oil and gas companies. Among the largest investors are companies such as TOTAL, BP, and Shell. In other words, the companies that are today’s leaders in oil and gas production are also the number one investors in solar energy projects. They see and understand which projects will run the world in the truly near future.

This shift is also driven by economic factors: solar energy is now the cheapest form of energy. There’s also significant progress in energy storage solutions, allowing for the development of local microgrids. These systems can provide energy to villages with limited resources, being more cost-effective in terms of both kilowatt-hour cost and capital investment.

Talking about Neosun, our main focus today is on businesses in any part of the world that need electricity. Solar power is currently the cheapest source of energy. By building solar power plants, we help businesses gain access to energy. This not only allows them to save on electricity costs but also enhances their efficiency and increases their market value.

Сan small and medium enterprises (SMEs) benefit from alternative energy as well?

For SMEs, solar energy represents a significant cost-saving opportunity, being the cheapest form of energy generation. The payback period for solar projects is generally less than two years in most sunny regions. By investing in solar installations, SMEs can save on electricity bills and recoup their investment in just 1.5 to 2.5 years, leading to pure profit by the third year. This makes solar energy a strategic move to increase profitability and attractiveness to investors.

Your company is rapidly expanding, are you operationally profitable or are you raising investments?

Actually both! On the one hand, since its inception Neosun has been and remains operationally profitable in the regions where it operates. On the other hand, we have also attracted investments to expedite our growth, considering the opportunities this market offers.

We are focused on further growth, rapid scaling, and aggressively capturing market share. Our goal is to rank in the top 3 in every country we enter and to establish dozens of branches worldwide. This strategy will ensure a high company valuation. For investors, this means they will benefit from the increase in our company’s valuation and the appreciation of their shares, delivering high returns on their investments comparable with venture capital investments.

In general, the solar energy sector presents significant investment potential not only in private equity but also in solar projects investment. As I mentioned earlier, the payback period for such projects in most regions of the world ranges from 1.5 to 2 years. This essentially translates into an annual return on the project’s investment (ROI) of 50% to 100%. Therefore, the solar energy market is indeed very attractive for investors today.

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Mr. Likhov’s presentation and meeting with students of DHA Suffa University in Pakistan

In conclusion, a little bit about you: how important is it for a leader to be a visionary and be able to set such global goals?

Becoming a visionary isn’t something you can train for; it’s a perspective, either you have it or you don’t. Entrepreneurship can be a path to independence or ambition. Visionaries, however, have dreams and goals that drive them. I’ve pondered why some people create companies like Tesla. What sets them apart?

Visionaries often start as dreamers—they read extensively and visualize their dreams. What I do now isn’t for money alone; it’s about fulfilling dreams. Visionaries aim to achieve significant goals, like curing cancer or building spaceships. The objectives you set for yourself ultimately provide the resources needed to accomplish them. And everything that you see in the world today was once created by dreamers who decided to make their dreams come true.

Connect with Ilya Likhov on LinkedIn

Find NEOSUN Energy on LinkedIn or visit https://neosun.com/

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