AutoGrid Systems, a smart grid start-up officially launched its "big data" analysis software to help optimize the electric grid. The Smart Grid is a collection of new transmission equipment, new meters, and software applications that all interact with each other to increase our energy efficiency, and reduce our carbon footprint.
AutoGrid also announced that it has signed agreements with 2 large customers: the City of Palo Alto Utilities and the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District.
AutoGrid has so far raised $9 million from Foundation Capital, Voyager Capital and Stanford University.
It has also obtained $5 million worth of contracts from the U.S. Department of Energy's ARPA-E research agency and the California Energy Commission.
Its founders are all veterans of the utility industry and must know what they're getting into. The smart grid green sector is already crowded with fierce competition from well funded companies that have several years of head start over AutoGrid. The most interesting part of AutoGrid's story is that its main backer, Foundation Capital, has also funded AutoGrid competitors Silver Spring Networks, EnerNOC, and eMeter (since acquired by Siemens).
EnerNOC and Silver Spring Networks are both extremely well capitalized and are years ahead of AutoGrid. They both received additional funding from other big-name venture capital firms. EnerNOC got funded by Braemar Energy Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Silver Spring Networks by Kleiner Perkins. Both are doing very well, and hiring right and left, creating good green jobs; EnerNOC has about 80 open positions, and SSN has 33. In comparison, AutoGrid has 5 open positions.
AutoGrid has also a slew of other competitors in the “smart grid/energy management” space, all well capitalized by top VC firms: Adura (VantagePoint Capital Partners), Comverge (public company first funded by Rockport Capital), EcoFactor (Rockport), FirstFuel (Battery Ventures), GridNet (Braemar Energy Ventures), GridPoint (NEA), SmartSynch (acquired by Itron), Tendril (VantagePoint), Trilliant (VantagePoint), and Viridity (Braemar, Battery and GE Ecomagination). And, on top of that, let’s not forget IBM!
To succeed, AutoGrid will need a lot of luck, a lot of hard work, a lot of persistence and a lot more money!
TheGreenJobBank has employer profiles for more than 30 smart-grid companies, and almost all of them are currently hiring. At the top is EnerNOC, with 80 open positions, followed by Silver Spring Networks with 33 and Nexant with 25. The total of all smart-grid jobs on TheGreenJobBank is about 200.
Below is a list of the venture capital firms mentioned in this story. They all have an impressive record funding green startups.
- Battery Ventures
- Braemar Energy Ventures
- Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ)
- Foundation Capital
- Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB)
- New Entreprise Associates (NEA)
- Rockport Capital
- Sequoia Capital
- Vantagepoint Capital Partners