Spending to save: Bractlet's $85K funding round helps buildings save cash on energy

November 14, 2014

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Bractlet's Alec Manfre (CEO), Matthew Lynch (CPO), Brian Smith (CTO) in Chile

Austin-based Bractlet, an energy analytics platform, has raised $85,000, according to a filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company will use the funds to accelerate its sales and marketing efforts.

Innovating the Walk-through Process

Bractlet is combining hardware and analytical software for the energy efficiency space. It’s an area with huge potential for both savings on the customer side and profits for the service providers.

The company partners with energy service companies; Bractlet provides them with better tools – both hardware and software – to complete energy audits and save the end customer money. 

To understand how the company is innovating, it helps to know about the traditional role of energy audits. Audits are done to provide building owners an estimate of the potential savings from retrofitting their building, or swapping out old equipment for more energy efficient units. In a typical energy audit, auditors walk through a building, noting the types of equipment, things like light bulb types and HVAC systems, the models of different units and then enter their data into Excel. Individual pieces of equipment are rarely metered over time. Auditors take the information collected from the walk-through, combined with past energy bills to get an idea of energy usage and what savings would be from a retrofit (when new, more efficient equipment is installed).  “The guesses on savings are very rough and usually they have to pad them by 15-30 percent, because they're just not really sure on what’s happening in the facility,” said Bractlet’s CEO and co-founder Alec Manfre.

Bractlet’s innovation is taking the guesswork out of the process. “Our solution monitors individual pieces of equipment but also taps into additional systems in a facility… We pull all of that data, in addition to the energy usage from the equipment, send it to our servers, then we have detailed analytics and algorithms that essentially crunches all that information and creates very accurate models of how different pieces of equipment operate,” said Manfre.

This means the team can model individual pieces of equipment and their energy usage. They can even tell building owners how equipment will operate under different conditions, like on cloudy days versus sunny days, if a set point is changed, or if the outdoor air temperature rises. It allows building owners and managers to understand their energy usage and know how to improve it.  

Their system can find additional savings not identified during a traditional walk through, according to Manfre. In one example, Bractlet found a chiller system was oversized for the building. They were able to swap out the oversized chiller for a more appropriate one.  Savings on that item come from two areas: a smaller chiller uses less energy and an upgraded piece of equipment (from the retrograde) was more energy efficient. 

Listening to the Market

The two-year old company has gone through some changes since they started out of Georgia Tech. While they still use the original platform, being out in the field and talking to customers helped them focus on one area where there was a huge market need. Part of the drive was purely financial; the team saw how much money was spent on retrofits by the energy service companies and knew there had to be an easier, faster and more efficient way to do them. 

Cutting Energy Use, Growing the Company

Bractlet aims to bring on three new energy service partners in the next four months. Though the company partners with energy service companies – the ones that conduct energy audits and retrofit a building – both the service company and the building end up winning. The energy service company gets a streamlined process that more accurately predicts savings while the data analytics can help find savings for the customer that a typical energy audit wouldn’t. 

The company is growing; they are looking for a sales manager now and plan to hire for a few more positions in the second quarter of next year. 

Though the team is an Austin transplant (they came to Texas via the Surge Accelerator program in Houston), they are happy to be in Austin.  “A lot of things are happening in Austin on the energy efficiency front and there’s a lot more focus on software, especially in the startup scene. We thought this would be a good place to have access to talent and people, but also be part of an energy efficiency community that is growing,” said Manfre.

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