The founder of Efficiency 2.0, Tom Scarmellino, sat down with TechCrunch TV this week to talk about how his company motivates consumers to curb their power-hogging behavior at home, and what kind of impact that makes from an environmental perspective.
A New York City cleantech company, Efficiency 2.0 runs loyalty rewards programs on behalf of its clients, big electric companies that are legally required to convince customers to use energy more efficiently.
The Efficiency 2.0 platform crunches massive amounts of data— like homeowners’ demographic information, weather forecasts and more— to tailor power-saving tips, and reward offers for consumers that will matter enough, hopefully, to persuade them to make energy-related changes around the house.
Unlike OPower (perhaps the best-known brand in this space today) Efficiency 2.0 delivers its power saving suggestions mostly online, and is more about setting a personal best, than it is about outpacing your neighbors on energy efficiency.
Doing anything from installing a smart meter, to simply switching off the coffee maker the second the brew is done, can help get customers points and save money on their electricity bills. The points are redeemable for rewards like a $10 discount at Staples, or a gift card for Omaha Steaks. Efficiency 2.0 sets up some of the merchant partnerships, but also works with another NYC cleantech company, Recyclebank, to make the incentives possible.
Scarmellino confessed in the TCTV green room that one his worst indulgences, environmentally speaking, was eating too many steaks. That’s a lot of saved kilowatts, though. The CEO believes that with a majority of 120 million homes in the U.S. not yet participating in an energy efficiency program, Efficiency 2.0 could make an impact that’s “bigger than the entire solar industry to date,” in terms of mitigating pollution and more.
Watch the video (above) for more on Efficiency 2.0′s technology, impact on the environment and partnership with Recyclebank.
Over the last week I’ve gotten several pitches from companies taking a new twist on OpenTable’s business. One of two things has happened: Either there’s a new flurry of activity around the restaurant reservation/recommendation/lead generation space or having groused about OpenTable and recently posed a question on whether they should be disrupted, I’ve just become the go-to target for anyone launching a business in this space. Either way if you’re a restauranteur looking for a better way, watch this space, because the topic will keep coming up.
One pitch that caught my attention was Tripleseat, and the company is announcing a $500,000 round of funding later today from Omaha-based Dundee Venture Capital. (More on that round in a second.) TripleSeat isn’t really trying to be an “OpenTable killer.” It’s focused on streamlining the experience of booking and organizing private events, not just one-off restaurant reservations. And its business is not limited to restaurants. Its customers include other places you’d have events like large hotel chains, bowling alleys and boats. (Note to Heather Harde: Can we have our Christmas party on a boat? I’m envisioning something like the one above, and Arrington wearing a hat like Michael Scott in the Booze Cruise episode of The Office. Awesome.)
Tripleseat’s founder, Jonathan Morse, says an average client makes 30% of their income from private events and managing them is a huge headache, because they take a lot more coordination and details than a restaurant full of individual diners. Especially since private events tend to come in clumps, especially during the Holidays. As someone with 20 years experience in the hospitality and restaurant business, he’s seen the pain first-hand. OpenTable isn’tÂ optimizedÂ to handle it and most restaurants are just using pen and paper and basic Excel files.
But the opportunity aside, one reason to watch Tripleseat is that they’re building the company completely outside the usual Silicon Valley Web echo-chamber. The company is headquartered in Boston, and turned to Omaha for its Web development and, now, its funding. Until now the company has been bootstrapped, and it’s done pretty well with no cash: It manages $140 million in event revenues for about 100 customers, many of which are sizable hotel and restaurant groups. The company’s revenues are a fraction of that, they charge between $100 and $300 a month for their software as a service package. But it’s an indication of their value to a restaurant or hotel.
Morse and a handful of sales people have built the company since 2008, mostly doing meetings over the Web and cold-calling, boldly saying his business doesn’t need a big on-the-ground-sales team. I’m not so sure he’s right, at least if he wants to become a large company. Software as a service products are great for getting revenues quickly, but most of the big ones have built huge salesforces and taken a decade or more of work to get to point where they could go public. OpenTable, although a hardware and software solution, is a great example of that playbook done well. But I respect Morse’s staunchly anti-Valley mindset. He believes this business will take time to build no matter what and organic and sensible growth is safer than rather than raising a ton of money and throwing dozens of sales people at the problem all at once.
Every week on my TechCrunchTV show, Ask a VC, we get questions on how cities like Omaha and entrepreneurs like Morse who have deep domain expertise, but aren’t coders and are outside the Valley system can get attention from VCs. And nearly every guest always says look to your own community first, build something good and money and attention will come. Maybe Tripleseat will take double the time to get to OpenTable’s size, but the company deserves props for taking that advice and building a solid business whether they get the Valley’s blessing or not.
formfeed writes “Police were called to a house in Omaha where a 14 year old made some ‘dry ice bombs’ (dry ice in soda bottles). Since his mom knew about it, she is now facing felony charges for child endangment and possession of a destructive device. From the article: ‘Assistant Douglas County Attorney Eric Wells said the boy admitted to making the bomb and that his mother knew he was doing so. The boy was set to appear Tuesday afternoon in juvenile court, accused of possessing a destructive device.’” She’s lucky they didn’t find the baking soda volcano in the basement.
theodp writes “Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, you can now sit in your underwear in Omaha and learn French from a tutor in Paris. The NY Times has a round-up of ways to learn a language over the Web. ‘We offer modern-day pen pals facilitated with voice over I.P.,’ said Tom Adams, CEO of RosettaStone, whose learning options include RosettaStudio, a place where a user can talk to a native speaker via video chat. TellMeMore offers a speech recognition component that analyzes pronunciation, graphs your speech, and suggests how to perfect it. Free-as-in-beer offerings include BBC Languages, where you’ll find varying levels of instruction for 36 languages, with features including audio and video playback and translation. Things have certainly come a long way since the PLATO Foreign Languages Project of the 70′s.”
Source: The Web Way To Learn a Language