Red Dot Power is creating value through digital
Vijay Sirse had a vision to start a power company that put customers first. Now, Red Dot Power is one of Singapore’s leading electricity retailers – and changing the way we define an energy business in a digital world.
Founded in 2010 and led by CEO Vijay Sirse, Red Dot Power describes itself as a new age energy company offering integrated energy solutions. Red Dot is one of Singapore’s leading electricity retailers in the commercial and industrial space, offers demand response services to these clients and is now pioneering the country’s emerging market in thin film solar photovoltaic (PV), battery storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
Offering value, not discounts
Vijay admits customers were first attracted to his company by the opportunity to change providers once the market was opened to competition. But they stayed long after the novelty of being able to switch wore off. And not because Red Dot necessarily offered cheaper electricity tariffs. The company decided to differentiate itself through offering extra value, not discounts.
Vijay says the proposition was unlike any other that Singapore’s businesses had seen before. “In the past, retailers sent the bill. Customers paid it. There was no further discussion between the two. We wanted to add value by helping them reduce their energy consumption, using data and analytics that allows them to optimize their electricity use without compromising operations.”
“We wanted to add value by using data and analytics to help customers optimize their electricity use without compromising operations.”
Vijay Sirse, CEO, Red Dot Power
It may seem counterproductive for an energy retailer to encourage its customers to use less power. But this service has kept Red Dot customers loyal – their retention rates are above average. Outstanding customer service also helps.
“Our customer hotline is picked up within five rings. There’s no pushing 12 buttons to speak to someone. We don’t ask the customer to wait, we attend to him or her straight away.
“We ask ourselves, ‘How do we make the customer comfortable?’”
No shortcuts to digital success
Red Dot’s digital strategy is integrated with its overall business model, and every use of technology and analytics is designed to reap benefits for either the company or the customer. “It’s not the data that’s important, but what we do with it,” Vijay says.
Red Dot has built its digital platform incrementally over time and is currently developing a mobile app that allows customers to manage every part of their relationship with Red Dot via their phone.
Customers love the ease of Red Dot’s digital experience, which also generates big cost savings for the company.
“Every paper or manual intervention is an additional cost,” says Vijay.
“Digital platform delivery is cheaper, more efficient, adds value to the customer and increases their satisfaction.”
“Digital platform delivery is imperative for a successful business model in energy today.”
Vijay Sirse, CEO, Red Dot Power
Vijay is quick to emphasize that Red Dot’s digital platform was not cheap or quick to build.
“It took us two years to develop and significant manpower and money. We also had to make sure we met compliance regulations,” he said.
“In this way, building a digital platform can be a barrier to entry for some startups. But once you have it, you will see real benefits in customer retention and satisfaction.”
Organic PV will take over from rooftop solar
Red Dot’s next move is to enter the residential electricity market and expand beyond its footprint in rooftop solar generation into organic PV – thin solar films that can be applied to almost any surface.
Vijay explains: “Rooftops are limited in Singapore, but we have big buildings. We’re planning a significant deployment of thin film solar to 2019 and see it taking over from rooftop solar, due to improved costs, performance and the enhanced aesthetic appeal of films.”
Vijay credits forward-thinking government policy and regulatory agencies in Singapore, which will complete reforms of the electricity market this year, as critical to the success of Red Dot and others in building different business models. He says competition is increasing in the local market, but Red Dot is “keeping up our market share with good margins.”
Without debt due to robust risk management strategies, Red Dot has attracted interest from a wide variety of investors, including many from outside the sector.
“It can be a challenge helping those new to energy understand the industry dynamics. We see opportunities for investors to come on board, but we are looking at what value they can bring beyond just financing as we expand into new markets.”
Batteries and EVs will transform the sector
For Vijay, Red Dot’s growth through economic ups and downs has been rewarding.
“We are still learning. We are seeing different business models in different jurisdictions trying to adopt some of those best practices and investing more in our human and digital platforms to provide top-class customer service.”
He believes the next transformative segments for the electricity sector will be battery storage and EV charging, areas where Red Dot is already making its mark. “We are well positioned to integrate these services along with electricity retail, demand management and solar through an end-to-end digital delivery platform.”
Vijay says that as the company expands, every initiative must be aligned to its core values of honesty, integrity and innovation. “Red Dot is built on a vision – we’re empowering people and empowering our community.”
Vijay Sirse is the founder, Chairman and CEO of Red Dot Power and vTrium Energy group, both based in Singapore. Vijay has more than 36 years of experience in business development, project financing and asset management in the electricity sector and, prior to starting his own companies, worked for many multinationals, including Globeleq (an Actis UK subsidiary), El Paso Energy USA and ABB.