By Paricha Duangtaweesub
The first Cleanweb Meetup of 2016 was a genuine night out - it was a show-and-tell for the startups as much as for the people who work in this space. The crowd was eclectic - startup founders and serial entrepreneurs, seasoned professionals in energy and young leaders, job seekers and recruiters. It could easily be one of ‘those’ networking mixer but it wasn’t. Everyone seemed to be there to help others succeed; I met a guy who offered to prep me for an interview in project management, a role he’s held for the past 4 years before leaving to pursue work in the clean tech sector.
The event featured a show-and-tell by Persistent Efficiency and GridCure and great questions from the crowd. The event was hosted by UtilityAPI at the Powerhouse, a solar co-working and accelerator space in Oakland. Before the presentations, host and UtilityAPI Co-founder and CEO, Elena Lucas, called for announcements of upcoming events, project opportunities, and job openings (we hear Carbon Lighthouse, Antenna, DropCountr, and GridCure are hiring). It was a great group of 30 people. The atmosphere was intimate and friendly.
Persistent Efficiency shared their hardware/software combo with a live demo in the conference room. Persistent Efficiency offers the ‘world’s first stick-on electrical sub-meter’ in the form of a sleek, non-intrusive Power Patch technology that fits on circuit breakers. It takes “30 minutes” to fully install the system to monitor a circuit breaker panel, said co-founder and CEO Jason Trager, sidestepping hefty fees for expert electricians and the potentially dangerous process of installing current transformers. The Power Patch extracts energy usage data and the individual equipment can be identified by its unique load ‘footprint’, giving the building operators and maintenance technicians insight into real operational savings. His live demo of the Power Patch – attached to a circuit of fans and lamps to show different signals data –showed Persistent Efficiency’s turnkey solution. “We’re taking orders,” said Jason. He meant it.
Next up was GridCure’s CEO Tagg Jefferson, who spoke about how utilities have incredible volumes of data from smart meters and other devices on, and are struggling to make use of it all. An alumnus of 500 Startups, this analytics startup is tackling the untapped data – anywhere from “1000 to 10,0000 times” the amount from before the era of smart meters – to help utilities save on costs and deliver reliable service. Combined with other data sets such as age of infrastructure or population density, GridCure can help utilities determine predictive maintenance cycles and predict outage events. GridCure does “as much of the heavy-lifting as possible” for their clients with machine learning, Tagg ensured, and has ongoing projects internationally.
These startups offer a value propositions that neatly bridges the gap between data and actionable insights. In both cases, the utilities and building operators were unable to glean actionable insights from their data (or lack thereof) in order to achieve their bottom line – to deliver excellent service while saving on costs.
After the presentations, the Meetup flowed into a networking session. It was a sincere moment in time, where the attendees have their business cards ready, and their egos checked at the door. I had given and received genuine handshakes, followed up with lively conversations.
Cleanweb SF Meetup is a meeting of minds around ‘applying tech solutions to resource problems - in energy, water, waste, transit, food, air, and other areas’. Enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and active professionals are welcome at this Meetup. The goal is to open up dialogue and create a community around startups in this space. For the energy sector, that means leveraging software and data towards enabling demand response, energy efficiency, and building management systems, to name a few.
Paricha Duangtaweesub is a recent MS graduate from UC Berkley, an aspiring professional in cleantech, and a writer for Sustainable by Design, an experimental blog exploring sustainability issues through the lens of design. For event coverage, story ideas, or deep sustainability conversations, please reach out to email@example.com.