Picture how Netflix and Amazon are using big data to predict and recommend the movies you want to watch and the products you want to buy. Well, a young startup called AutoGrid is using these types of big data analytics to do the same types of things with energy data, and a little over a year after launching it now has new products, new customers and new funding.
Founded in 2011 and launched in late 2012, AutoGrid has developed a cloud-based software platform that takes petabytes of energy grid data — both structured and unstructured — and crunches it to predict and analyze what is happening on the grid in real time. The company can use this data to provide services and apps to utility customers like prediction applications, optimization of the grid, or analysis of trends in energy usage. Customers include Austin Energy, Oklahoma Gas & Electric and the city of Palo Alto.
This week AutoGrid announced that it’s opening up that data platform to third-party developers and partners to make new applications. For example, a partner like NTT’s data group has used the analytics engine to create an app that helps industrial and commercial building owners examine energy use trends. Working with third party developers is a way for a young AutoGrid to grow customers and also raises the possibility that it will hit on a really big killer app for its engine.
AutoGrid also announced on Monday that it’s raised more funds to grow. The company has closed on a series C round of $12.75 million from utility company E.ON, as well as its existing investors Foundation Capital and Voyager Capital. E.ON is one of the largest holding companies that owns utilities in the world, and Foundation Capital is a long time backer of smart grid startups including EnerNOC, Silver Spring Networks and eMeter. Foundation’s Steve Vassallo is on AutoGrid’s board.
AutoGrid was founded by CEO Amit Narayan, who was the director of Smart Grid Simulation Research at Stanford University. Other well known execs include CTO Chris Knudsen, who was the Director of the Innovation Lab at PG&E, as well as the former VP of Business Development at PG&E, Andrew Tang.
These types of big data and software tools are part of a huge trend emerging in the power and energy industries. If you want to learn more about big data, check out Gigaom’s two-day event on big data in New York in March called Structure:Data.
The power grid is looking more and more like the Internet (with distributed computing and smart systems), and that means that the tools used by Internet companies will be increasingly implemented for the power grid.