There have been as many new carbon management startups launched over the past year as super model-based reality TV shows — the promise of the carbon markets boosted by U.S. regulation are just too attractive to entrepreneurs. But one 18-month-old sustainable software startup, Hara, is coming out of so-called stealth on Monday, with backing from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and a claim that it’s doing something completely different.
Hara CEO Amit Chatterjee tells us that Hara’s software-as-a-service product gives companies and municipalities the ability to itemize and track all of the inputs (water, electricity, chemicals) and outputs (the product, greenhouse gases, wastewater) that make up the business processes. By identifying both the inputs and outputs, Chatterjee says, Hara can then suggest how to optimize the overall system, enabling the customer to save substantial money and reduce waste. Many other carbon and energy management software tools focus exclusively on just carbon and electricity, and leave out the last step of prescribing ways that the company can tweak its business to become more efficient.
Chatterjee says for an average midsize company, its “Environmental and Energy Management” software tracks about 1,000 objects (like a truck or a machine) with an accompanying 26,000 lines of data. Chatterjee says the pricing of the software is based on how many objects are tracked, but the software can deliver a customer like a city a return on investment in 3 to 12 months. While Hara is just “launching,” it has more than a dozen customers signed up, including the Coca Cola Co. and the city of Palo Alto, Calif.
There are three types of organizations that will really benefit from Hara’s tool: power companies (oil, natural gas, etc.) that are spending millions on energy, companies with deep supply chains like a Dell or a Wal-Mart, and public sectors that are looking to meet and implement mandates.
All options are customers with reasonably deep pockets. So the green VCs at Kleiner Perkins were clearly impressed — Chatterjee says pitching Kleiner partner Al Gore was “great” — and Hara has raised a $6 million Series A round, including funds from the firm. Chatterjee, a serial entrepreneur, met the Kleiner folks, like partner Ray Lane, at previous web startups, and spent some time at enterprise software company SAP (which he says he was recruited to by SAP exec and now Better Place founder Shai Agassi).
In the same way that venture capitalists are turning to the smart grid (Why VCs Heart Smart Grid: It’s IT) as a familiar territory for cleantech investors with a background in infotech, venture capitalists are increasingly funding companies that are building software to manage carbon, energy and resources. Clear Standards (bought by SAP recently) raised $4 million from Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Kinetic Ventures back in November 2008. Burlingame, Calif.-based Planet Metrics raised $2.3 million in Series A funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson. And Carbonetworks, an older player selling software and services to help companies reduce their carbon footprint, raised $5 million in funding from NGEN in the middle of last year.