Greenbox Technology, a startup with a web-based platform that monitors home energy use, told us recently it hopes to close its first round of funding by June. Matthew Smith, the company’s vice president of marketing, said the company is talking to potential investors now. The round could be as high as $20 million, he said, but suggested the amount will most likely fall between $3 million and $5 million.
“We aren’t announcing [the amount] publicly, but we’re looking at a pretty typical, standard A round,” he said, adding that the company has several alternate plans, depending on its investors and “how aggressive we want to get.” Most of the money will go toward hiring, he said.
Founded in 2007 by the creators and designers of Flash, Greenbox has developed software that monitors and analyzes a home’s energy use and displays the data –- including information about the time of day, usage by appliances, and comparisons to other homes in the community and different electricity-rate plans –- in the form of charts and graphs on a web dashboard.
The company has partnered with utilities, including Oklahoma Gas and Electric and an as-yet-unnamed New York utility, to provide the dashboard for the utilities’ smart-metering customers. It licenses the software to utilities, which pay an undisclosed price per user, per month, and provides related services, such as sending weekly emails to utilities’ customers with the amount of energy they used in the last week and tips for reducing that amount.
Greenbox is also working with device manufacturers, including smart thermostat makers Energate and Golden Power Manufacturing, to enable the devices to communicate with the Greenbox system. Customers using those devices can monitor their heating and cooling systems on their web dashboards, and also can control their thermostats remotely.
The company has fewer than 100 end users now, but Smith says many of Greenbox’ partners plan to soon expand their trials to tens of thousands of meters. It’s submitted proposals in partnership with Siemens, Smith said, and has also submitted some proposals for million-meter programs.
The company is working to simplify its user interface, and next plans to move from just monitoring energy use to also reducing it, he said. By the end of this year, it plans to start beta testing features that will analyze households’ data and recommend steps they can take to lower their energy use. Greenbox hopes to expand those capabilities next year.
The company also plans to add more devices to its compatibility list, including plug sensors that monitor the energy use of individual devices, as well as smart refrigerators and even electric cars, he said.
Smith said it’s hard to say when Greenbox will turn a profit, as part of that will depend on how much money it decides to spend on expansion. But he expects that the next two years will still be investment years, and said the company could be ready to get to scale -– and profitability -– by year three.
“It’s very easy to see how we could turn a profit very quickly…then we’ll put money into expanding,” he said. “We have the opportunity to scale very fast with utilities, so it’s partly dependent on how much of the pie you want to eat.” Of course, while deciding how much of the pie it wants, Greenbox will also need to be careful to avoid biting off more than it can chew.