StartUp Profile: SmartSynch


smartmeterresidential1.jpgWho: SmartSynch, whose smart meter technology uses broadband networks like AT&T’s (T) to connect electricity meters to utilities, expects to bring in $20 million in revenues in 2007. To date, the company has raised $57 million in funding from a long list of investors including Nth Power, JP Morgan Partners, Siemens Venture Capital, and Duke Ventures. CEO Stephen Johnston said SmartSynch isn’t looking to raise more funds just yet, but that it will be aiming for another round in six to 12 months.

Why: The established “smart grid’ cleantech company is hardly a startup anymore, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still trying to innovate. In February, SmartSynch started selling a residential version of one of its meters that is already being used by 10 utility customers (check with your utility and see if they offer it). Next year, the company plans to add a wireless local area network (LAN) chip into the meter (probably ZigBee) so utilities could possibly monitor and even turn off specific networked appliances such as pool pumps or a thermostat. Kind of like Mom and Dad Utility turning off your lights for you.

What: Smart meters and smart grid technology are important because the electricity grid is one of the most unintelligent networks around. To get the grid to be smarter, more robust, equipped with 2-way connections and able to work with supply and demand, billions of dollars of investment will be made into intelligent grid technology over the next decade.

SmartSynch uses IP-based networks like AT&T’s or even muniFi networks, which the company says costs less, is more easily upgradable and just generally makes more sense than other systems, which use proprietary networks. Companies like Eka Systems and Trilliant Networks use wireless mesh to do metering.

Where: Jackson, Miss.

When: The company was founded in 2000.


trademark registration

Smart Meters seem to be a great idea for the home of tomorrow. If they’re able to connect to other appliances using a LAN connection then it’ll definitely save energy, the environment, and money for the owner. I’m sure it’ll be a bit pricey to get one of these installed at first, but they’ll eventually become the norm.

Interested Consumer

Jim, I think this technology enables both paradigms, the real time pricing as well as demand response systems. Both are probably going to be necessary to meet the nations energy needs in the coming years.

The programs that involve temporarily turning off certain appliances are a voluntary choice on the part of the consumer. Some programs like this already exist, where the utility gives a customer a discounted rate in exchange for the option of shutting off their water heater for 10 minutes during periods of heavy load on the grid, for example. The consumer has the option of signing up for the program. SmartSynch just seems to be doing it in a better way than the old systems.

Jim Beyer

I think an interesting development in the smart meter market is how the utilities want to control and “monitor” everything (such as turning off your pool pump, etc.) . Compare this with a market that provides a real-time price for electricity, and the consumers make the turn-off decisions themselves.

Centralized control of your electricity by utilities via smart-metering would be a disaster.

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