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Startup Showcase 2014 [SLIDES]

Six new startups present their ideas to a seasoned panel of VCs, entrepreneurs and scientists for hard-hitting feedback. A winner will be chosen based on the use of data science, impact on sustainability, and financial feasibility.

Zachary Bogue (co-Managing Partner, Data Collective)
Julien Creuze (Senior Associate, Aster Capital)
Roy Johnson (CEO, EcoFactor)
Sylvia Smullin (Physicist, PARC)

Folsom Labs

Palo Alto Research Center
Wells Fargo


>> OhmConnect <<

Ohmconnect connects the smart home to the smart grid. Our users participate in residential demand response programs by connecting their smart devices, wifi thermostats, and electric cars to Ohmconnect's DR platform. In other words, our users get paid to turn off environmentally damaging peaker plants.

Ohmconnect is 8 months old and has raised funding from the DoE and angel investments.

Data Science
Ohmconnect is a data driven company. By combining CAISO, weather, and device data sets, Ohmconnect has unlocked latent market value in home energy management. In addition to extensive device data management, Ohmconnect employs behavioral data science across our user base to maximize our program participation.

Impact on Sustainability
Ohmconnect was founded to replace environmentally damaging peaker plants. Instead of relying on carbon-intensive and highly polluting power plants, our community collectively turns down consumption in their neighborhood to prevent the need for these plants to turn on.

Financial Feasibility
Ohmconnect takes a 20% commission on revenues generated by our user base. The total market opportunity in California is estimated at approximately $500M annually.

>> WattTime <<

WattTime helps businesses and institutions meet sustainability goals by automatically shifting energy use to the cleanest times. Co-founders Gavin McCormick and Anna Schneider met at the 2013 Berkeley Cleanweb Hackathon, and our first pilot project will launch this fall. We are funded as 2014 Echoing Green Climate Fellows.

Data science
WattTime has its roots in Gavin's PhD research at UC Berkeley, where he developed econometric methods that can predict the marginal carbon footprint of electricity in real time. This method uses open data from ISOs/RTOs and from the EPA Continuous Emissions Monitoring System.

Impact on sustainability
The marginal power plants are the ones that you can affect by using or conserving energy, and they change throughout the day. So by shifting energy use from high marginal carbon to low marginal carbon times, our users gain direct control over the environmental impacts of their electricity. At scale, this "environmental demand response" approach will aid in renewables integration.

Financial Feasibility
WattTime is a nonprofit. Our revenue from providing demand management services will be supplemented by grants and donations.

>> Folsom Labs <<

Folsom Labs builds cloud-based software that combines online design tools with advanced physics modeling to understand exactly how much energy a solar photovoltaic system will produce. This makes it easier than ever to go from a potential project location to a detailed system design with energy production forecasts.

We were founded three years ago, bootstrapping product development through consulting. In 2013 we received a DOE Sunshot grant for feature development, and we launched to revenue January 2014 (after a year in private beta).

Data science
We leverage cloud-computing to accurately simulate every component within a potential system, as such we combine a wide range of data sources – satellite imagery, NSRDB/NREL historical weather data, public component libraries – within a physics simulation engine to produce energy estimates. In our upcoming products we will take this a step further leveraging bayesian analysis and real-time system monitoring to 'close the feedback loop', allowing real world performance data from systems in the field to directly inform and improve the predictive models for new projects.

Impact on sustainability
Our product makes it much easier to design and finance PV arrays. We make a much broader spectrum of potential solar projects viable (by reducing engineering and financing) costs. Additionally, because of our advanced simulation techniques, we make it possible for new technologies to be accurately modeled in potential systems, greatly reducing their time to market.

Financial feasibility
We are a cloud-based, software-as-a-service, we charge users $95/month or $950/year. We bootstrapped to revenue in January, and are already 'ramen profitable'.

>> Agralogics <<

Agralogics is creating the internet of food. Our mission is to enable anyone consuming food data to easily access and share this information in context.

Today, we offer the food supply-chain’s first context-enriched collaboration platform, which securely:
  • Provides features for food enterprises to capture information as they carry out food activities.
  • Facilitates collaboration via intuitive, connected and searchable calendars, tailored for food’s clocks.
  • Derives context from interactions, and delivers this context to stakeholders via situationally-aware applications and functionality.
  • Enables food enterprises to plan and analyze their work, and interact with others using data — improving operational efficiency.
Agralogics has been incorporated since Spring, 2013. This Spring, we closed ~$1M in seed funding, lead by various angel investors from Silicon Valley. We are now actively raising our Series A.

Data science
Data science is at the heart of everything we do. Our data science team ingests agronomic data from a variety of sources (i.e., remote sensing data, weather stations, soil maps), produces spatio-temporal analytics, and generates maps and time-series that are made available to our customers.

Impact on sustainability
Natural resources needed for food production are becoming more scarce. At the same time, populations and livestock demanding food are growing. In order to meet growing demands, enterprises involved in distributing food will need to collaborate around making processes more efficient. Agralogics is gathering and disseminating the data needed to make this collaboration context-enriched and situationally relevant.

Financial feasibility
Agralogics employs an “average revenue per acre” model to sell its SaaS solution. Our base platform with limited functionality is free for onboarding. After that level, customers pay anywhere from $0.25-$2.00 per feature, per acre, per year. Multiple user groups (growers, processors, retailers) can be paying for the software on any given acre.

>> UtilityAPI <<

UtilityAPI is a service that instantly collects utility customer bill and usage data from utility web portals and provides that data through an online API. We were founded in May 2014, are releasing the beta product for three utilities in August 2014, and will have national coverage in 2015. We are current bootstrapped and may raise a small angel round later in 2014.

Data science
We are used by solar and energy efficiency companies to retrieve client utility bill and usage history for which they use to perform their own energy analyses. We write algorithms and software for collecting, parsing, error-correcting, and standardizing data across many different utilities. Our main sources of data are utility web portals, APIs, and pdf bills.

NOTE: We only collect data with explicit authorization of the customer, and we only share that data with the 3rd parties that the customer has explicitly approved (i.e. we do not aggregate and sell bulk data).

Impact on sustainability
Currently, raw client data collection is a very manual and time-intensive process, and we plan to completely automate that process. Sustainability companies can significantly reduce their soft costs by getting instant access to client utility data, which will allow for instant savings estimates, energy audits, and post-installation reports. For example, we conservatively estimate we can reduce the installed price of solar by $0.10-0.15 per Watt.

Financial feasibility
We charge $50 per initial collection of all historical data per meter. Additionally, we charge $5 per meter per month to continuously monitor for billing and usage updates. If another energy tool or platform wants to integrate us into their back-end services, we will work with that company to establish a bulk license.

>> AquaJust <<

Water is scarce wherever it is price-less. Conversely, an exchange that lets water users earn, own, track and trade the water they save would restore health and resilience by turning each meter into an ATM. Our utility-based online system, AquaJust™, is owned by two co-founders. Our concept is 30,000 years old. We registered in stealth mode several years ago in Las Vegas. A live utility pilot test starts this fall.

Data science
AquaJust gives context, direction and meaning to the trillions of data points collected by so-called ‘smart’ meters, which are all too often little more than command and control tools to centralize capacity of natural monopolies. But a truly dynamic ‘smart grid’ for water must be trans-active, driven by buyers and sellers to balance supply and demand. Water offset credits could never before be traded among millions who share the same river. Now they can. We employ data science by aggregating from all meters the origin and value per 100 gallon units (EcoShares™) among private, public, residential, and commercial water users, developing a dynamic price point to reveal what water is actually worth each moment. AquaJust software is agnostic, and integrates with utility hardware (Aclara, Neptune, Sensus, Badger, Itron, etc.).

Impact on sustainability
Saving water isn’t just good for fish and aquatic species. Since water is embedded in energy, and vice versa, efficiency is good for land and air, too. Through AquaJust, cities can dramatically and measurably slash carbon. A pilot across 300 metered units reduce demand by 3 million gallons, save 19,000 kWh of electricity, offset 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, and scale up offset benefits by number of meters.

Financial feasibility
By sharing efficiency gains within existing assets, our business model has more in common with Uber and AirBnB than with competitors in the ‘new supply’ (dams, drilling, desal, ditches), or ‘demand response’ spaces. We earn money on transaction fees and by selling software as a service to utilities, monetizing widespread water savings in a constrained $70 billion U.S. urban water industry.
Joe Kwiatkowski,
Nov 16, 2014, 11:30 PM
Joe Kwiatkowski,
Nov 16, 2014, 11:27 PM
Joe Kwiatkowski,
Nov 16, 2014, 11:29 PM