75F, an IOT startup, is building a technology solution to help large buildings become more energy efficient and thus save costs.
Internet of Air, that such an industry category exists boggles the mind. It also speaks of the infinite business possibilities made reality by Internet of things and cloud computing; in this case, 75F is a company in this space that offers smart solutions based on data inputs from buildings to better manage their energy usage. As founder-CEO Deepinder Singh asserts, the idea was to make buildings more comfortable, more energy-efficient and significantly, more cost-effective. 75F was established in 2012 in the U.S. by Singh and co-founder, Pankaj Chawla and began by working on a similar solution for residential spaces. However, the founders quickly realised that commercial buildings practice standard design and were better suited for this purpose, especially given that the solution has to be retrofit. Today, the company caters to offices, restaurants and other retail spaces and operates in the U.S. and Indian markets.
A fitting solution
“75F stands for 75 Fahrenheit (23.8 Celsius), which was set by the United Nations in 2008 as the optimum temperature for offices worldwide,” explains Singh. At the core of the intuitive solution that 75F offers is a distributed network of temperature sensors that feed data onto servers on the cloud. A central control unit powered by algorithms that crunch data and take into account weather patterns instructs and manages the smart damper or the individual unit installed in a room.
At present, the retrofit solution’s installation costs about US$ 2 per square feet and in terms of a return on investment for clients, Singh holds a holistic perspective. “As our solutions monitor and manage indoor air quality, end-users see a sharp increase in productivity alongside savings,” he says. The company’s track record shows that clients in the U.S. market have managed nearly 70 per cent in cost savings while in India, the figure is closer to 40 per cent. “In a span of two years, the energy savings pays for the product installation and maintenance,” adds Singh.
The company’s track record shows that clients in the U.S. market have managed nearly 70 per cent in cost savings while in India, the figure is closer to 40 per cent.
One of the key differentiators for 75F is its technology and Singh explains that this has been possible only because the company is extremely prudent in whom it hires to work on research and development. Currently, the R&D team stands lean at 12 members and is responsible for constant upgrades to 75F’s intellectual property. “We are never looking to hire average individuals as we strongly believe that our value is disproportionately affected by people who are a wrong fit for our company,” elaborates Singh.
While finding the right fit to grow the team is one challenge, Singh also mentions having to fight the current bias in favour of clean energy. He argues that while clean energy will power the world five years from now, efficient energy is here and now. “Efficient energy can be implemented now and at 10 times less in terms of cost but policy makers seem to neglect this fact,” opines Singh. A part of the problem, he notes, has been the drab nature of communicating the benefits of efficient energy. “We are working on campaigns that highlight the tangible benefits including an increase in productivity,” he adds.
Finding money, however, has been relatively easier as the founders were well-networked professionals prior to setting up this business. 75F was self-funded until 2014 and since then, it has been through three rounds of funding amounting to approximately US$ 2.75 million. “Our focus at the moment is ease of deployment and that is where we will look to channel our latest round,” shares Singh. One of the highlights of the company’s technology solution is the ease of use, it claims that the end-user requires no domain knowledge to use it and that is something Singh and team will look to bring further to the fore.
Growing the India market
75F commenced its India operations only in 2015 and thus far, its revenue ratio has been 10:1, favouring the U.S. market. Singh shares that the company is aggressively pursuing the India market and will look to grow its share here before courting newer markets. “We have seen a lot of interest from the Middle-East and Asia Pacific markets but we would like to own our backyard before branching out,” he says. By fiscal 2018-19, the company hopes to bring that revenue ratio closer to 3:1. In the same timeframe, it also hopes to touch revenue of Rs. 100 crore in India and 3 times that in the U.S. “We would like to pursue campuses across India and go after big box construction projects in the U.S.,” says Singh outlining growth plans for the future. Singh predicts that self-learning, productive and proactive systems are going to ride the technology wave of the future. “We would like to be the harbingers of this technology who create a profound shift in industry,” he says as he signs off.
Snapshot – 75F
Year of Founding:
Deepinder Singh and Pankaj Chawla
Offices in the U.S. and Bengaluru
US 2.75 million spread across three rounds