Last week, 150 global leaders gathered in Paris to discuss ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels and stop climate change. Around the same time, the effects of climate change became apparent in the southern Indian city of Chennai which was submerged after its heaviest rainfall in over 100 years.
Alternative sources of fuel and more efficient use of energy are the ways in which nations, companies, and individuals can reduce their carbon footprint. It is in the latter area that Indian startup Zenatix is making an impact. It uses energy data analytics to help organizations cut their power consumption by 10 percent or more.
Ventilation, air-conditioning, lighting, electronic equipment… there can be a myriad points of energy leakage. Zenatix sets up energy monitors and its cloud-based software does the rest – providing analytics and recommendations for reducing the waste.
“Save the world while you save your money.” That’s the pitch Zenatix makes to prospective clients. In the beginning, it was hard to persuade line managers that the energy monitors would help them cut costs for the facility. “The managers looked at us as a threat, thinking that we will point out their inefficiencies… We had to convince them that they were actually doing well with the resources they had. And that it was only because of lack of information that they could not take some decisions,“ Zenatix co-founder Dr Amarjeet Singh, an IIT Delhi grad with a PhD in electrical engineering from UCLA, told Tech in Asia back in May.
Blume steps in
The scene has changed dramatically in the last six months. Zenatix is now monitoring energy in over 150 locations, with big names like Google, Tata Teleservices, Starbucks, Mother Dairy, NIIT, and InfoEdge among its clients. “Our existing customers have been giving us repeat orders for their other buildings. They are also giving references to create new customers – this is getting us good market traction,” says Amarjeet.
The traction has attracted India’s leading early stage VC. Zenatix today announced a pre-series A funding round from Blume Ventures. The amount was not disclosed.
The IoT startup had high profile investors in its seed round too earlier. They included Google India MD Rajan Anandan, Trifecta Capital co-founder Rahul Khanna, and Snapdeal co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal. But the follow-on funding from Blume is important because Blume has made successful bets earlier in the energy domain, which is hardly as popular with VCs as ecommerce.
One of Blume’s earliest bets back in 2011 was in Promptec Renewable Energy Solutions, which makes LED and solar lighting products. Promptec got acquired by Havells India this year.
“It’s tragic, in our eyes, that the potential of creating an INR 1-2 billion (US$15-30 million) independent brand in this space was not as attractive as a consumer internet one. That’s the unfortunate bias in a get-rich-quick internet-oriented funding market today,” Blume’s managing partner Karthik Reddy told Tech in Asia in an interview.
It is this empathy with clean tech that makes Blume a more meaningful investor for Zenatix than any generic investor could be. “For companies like ours, it is very important that we have the right metrics with which we evaluate our progress,” points out Amarjeet.
Global expansion on the cards
Amarjeet founded Zenatix in December 2013 with two of his friends from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, Rahul Bhalla and Vishal Bansal. The trio was on the lookout for a strong idea within the big data and analytics space for a long time. They finally decided on energy as they found technology intervention most impactful there.
Most of Zenatix’s current clients are based in Delhi. With fresh funding under its belt, it’s poised for expansion. In Bangalore, the startup has already found some big takers: Xerox Research, Bosch, and Tata Teleservices are a few. Plans are afoot to move to cities outside India as well.
Besides the funding, the founders are now also armed with insights from the ground. For example, they found users are more comfortable with specific action points rather than an overload of info and analytics. “After the initial couple of weeks, not many people have time and curiosity to look at the front-end dashboards. This is where our analytics that convert data into “actionable insights” become very powerful. We want to close the loop. For many facilities, this “closing the loop” has been in the form of real time SMS messages to let the facility manager know what to do and when,” Amarjeet tells Tech in Asia.
For some of its clients, the startup also activated automated control based on feedback. “This has been very well received,” the founder says.
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