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Out in the Ecosystem: Bennett Fisher of Retroficiency

Posted by Devin Cole  March 12, 2012 03:59 PM

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Recently, I caught up with a fellow MIT Sloan entrepreneur who chose to build his company in Boston with a local VC, Point Judith Capital, providing the funding. Bennett Fisher is the Founder and CEO of Retroficiency, a data analytics software company focused on the cleantech sector.

TC: So Bennett - what is Retroficiency focused on?

BF: We are focused on scaling commercial energy efficiency. Commercial buildings account for more than 40% of the country’s energy consumption, and there’s $40 billion dollars of annual potential savings opportunities by upgrading existing energy systems. Unfortunately, much of these savings aren’t realized due to the current costly and time-intensive manual process of evaluating efficiency measures. Energy efficiency in existing buildings is the best way to reduce consumption, but right now it’s a huge opportunity that’s not being fully realized.

To address this, we’ve developed software that combines sophisticated energy analytics with rapid building modeling that helps utilities, energy service providers and building owners prioritize portfolios and identify energy conservations in minutes.

TC: What do you mean by energy analytics and building modeling?

BF: We have two core products today. One analyzes 15 minute or hourly energy consumption data (called interval data) to determine what the savings opportunities are in a building without ever visiting it. We can answer questions such as are the building’s operating systems aligned with actual occupancy hours? Is simultaneous heating and cooling occurring? Are lights being left on at all hours of the night?

To do this, we look at how a building is responding to changes in weather, humidity and other external factors and compare those results to similar buildings to determine areas of suboptimal performance and deliver very actionable recommendations.

Our second product streamlines the traditional energy auditing process. We can take a limited amount of information about a building and its energy systems, use statistical inferences to fill in the gaps, and then evaluate thousands of potential improvements in minutes to see how they will impact energy usage.

TC: It’s been about a year since you publicly launched the company. How much progress have you made?

BF: We’ve been able to build some significant momentum since launching last March and are on a great trajectory. I think the most important milestone for us has been the large enterprises that have adopted our solutions, like Jones Lang LaSalle, Schneider Electric and SAIC. That was a really important validator for our approach.

We’ve evaluated 80 million square feet of commercial space thus far, which is great, but that said there’s 80 billion square feet of space out there, so there’s a lot of work to do. We need to focus on delivering innovative products and driving adoption.

TC: Why did you choose Boston as the place to start the Retroficiency?

BF: I originally started developing the business plan and concept for the company when I was at MIT Sloan. A lot of my fellow entrepreneur classmates opted to head to places like Silicon Valley to start their companies, but Boston has a really strong and growing cleantech scene so we decided to stay here.

TC: Have you been able to find the talent you’ve needed in Boston? With your new round of funding, are you hiring?

BF: We’ve been able to find great technical people with a pretty unique mix backgrounds in software development, energy engineering and building systems expertise. Point Judith Capital, now headquartered in Boston, led our Series A round and they have been a great partner and supporter. As part of that financing event, we also acquired the energy efficiency division of fellow local cleantech company Nexamp which gave us significant executive and engineering team members.

Our location has helped us build the team we have today and will help us get the best talent we need for the future.

And yes, we are hiring.

Ted Chan is Founder and CEO of Upward Mobility and Noyo, two companies in the mobile education market. Twitter: @upwardmobility

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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