‘Concierge’ service for renewables aims to bridge education deficit by brokering clean energy deals
Australia’s first renewables brokering service, Teho, aims to tie together the disparate industry threads of solar, batteries, EVs and renewable energy retailers and simplify the path towards renewables for everyday people. Pv magazine Australia spoke to the two brothers behind the business, Jonathan and David Green (yes, that really is their surname), about the gap in the market they seek to tap.
When David and Jonathan Green used the term ‘concierge’ to describe their start-up, Teho, the term caught me. With its regal undertones, it seemed like an odd fit for the solar-dominated renewable industries in Australia. The pair have had trouble communicating precisely what their start-up concept is, after finding the term “renewable energy broker” left most looking puzzled. Recontextualising familiar words into new industries, it seems, is no easy feat.
The more I ruminated on it though, the more the term concierge made sense – essentially Teho is looking to take the (renewable) reins, consulting with customers to find out about their needs and then delivering them a handful of retail options from the increasingly lucrative world of green energy.
“I think the industry is in a weird position where it’s super popular and people have heaps of information on it from their friends and family, but the growth of solar hasn’t been followed with information,” Jonathan Green tells pv magazine Australia. “It’s become mainstream but no one really knows what they’re doing.”
Having spent years working in the solar sector, Jonathan found most everyday Australians are eager to embrace renewables but remain put off by the industry’s novelty. “From a customer perspective, while working in solar for so long, I always ask customers why haven’t they done this before and they always go ‘it was too confusing, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I always put it in the ‘too hard’ basket.’”
The insight compelled him to join forces with his brother, David Green, to found Teho in 2020. Leaning into both his namesake and his experience of having ridden an automotive finance startup from the ground floor to its arrival at the top, David’s background made him a logical fit.
“If you go to the core reason of why we started it all in the first place, we saw an opportunity in the market to start an organisation that really led the education process when it comes to renewable energy,” David Green tells pv magazine Australia.
“We were looking at the industry as a whole and no one did everything.”
How it works
Basically, Teho is situating itself as a middleman – sitting between customers who wants to invest in renewable energy – be it installing solar panels, a battery, purchasing an EV or just finding a clean retailer – and the retailers who provide those products.
At the heart of Teho’s service is its internal Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, which the brothers have lovingly developed over the past year and named Doug. The platform essentially stores all the product and plan information, allowing Teho to give its customers a range of company comparisons on the spot.
The offering, according to the Green brothers, benefits customer and retailer alike. For customers, the process is simplified – perhaps they want solar panels today but are cognisant of the fact their family car will probably soon be replaced with an EV. Teho finds systems that would be big enough to cater to EV charging needs, streamlining integration.
On the other end of the deal are retailers. The brothers say their helpful service to product-providers is bringing in customers, alleviating marketing battles.
Of course, all advice comes at a cost. With Teho, the Green brothers have chosen to make retailers rather than customers foot the bill.
Since Teho negotiates directly with retailers, bargaining a lower price with the promise of more customers, the brother’s are adamant the cost for the end customer remains the same. “It’s build into the price, so there’s no fixed fee per se,” Jonathan says.
How the startup is going about finding retailers to work with has come, in large part, from speaking to manufacturers directly and seeing who their best retailers are. “A lot of it comes through word of mouth,” David says. The brothers are taking what they describe as a “qualitative approach,” partnering with retailers who they believe share similar values (following an in-house audit).
So far, Teho has around 20 solar retail partners, hundreds of EV and hybrid dealerships (thanks to David’s history in cars) and a handful of EV charger partners. “We’ve got enough, but we certainly want more,” Jonathan says.
Based in Sydney themselves, many of Teho’s partners are from New South Wales. Retailers from other states are now the company’s focus as it sets about expanding to other states.