Energy consumption continues to rise globally as the population also grows. To meet demand, particularly during peak times, utilities often have to produce more than what’s typically needed. End users, too, often waste energy, with commercial buildings wasting an impressive 30% of what they tap from their providers.
COI Energy wants to address energy waste by detecting, eliminating, and monetizing it for other companies. This Deal to Watch startup uses AI and machine learning to provide energy usage analytics to its clients — thereby enabling them to better plan their energy consumption. We spoke to founder and CEO SaLisa Berrien about the challenge of climate change and how her company is helping create a better future.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
COI Energy developed and deployed the first digital energy platform that successfully connects utilities and businesses so they can detect, eliminate and monetize energy waste in buildings to drive efficiency and optimize the electric grid.
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
My personal mantra is to leave the space I occupy better than I found it. I grew up in a low-middle class family. We did not have a lot of means, but that lended itself to more creativity amongst myself and my siblings. The climate crisis has been my biggest motivator to use my skill sets, passion and determination to leave the world better than I found it so my children’s children can live a better life.
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
I remember as a child my family always had to make something out of nothing. My aunt Georgia owned several hair salons, my aunt Bennie owned a record shop, my great grandparents had their own contract for transporting migrant workers from the south to the north to work in the bean fields, and my grandmother Christine rented rooms to migrant workers at her home. With such a strong and rich family history in entrepreneurship, I was bound to be an entrepreneur even though I didn’t know it. I started my first business at 8 years old, a girls club for girls like me that were unable to join Girl Scouts. The real business was my squeeze cup and penny candy stand to raise funds so we could do activities like swimming or movies. The business was so successful that my godmother Barbara bought me a cash register and opened a bank account for me to make deposits.
In addition to my childhood exposure, my work at four startups before starting COI Energy provided me the exposure and foundation needed to understand the ins and outs of how to run a startup.
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
My vision is to create a world where everyone only uses the energy they need, and they gift or sell their excess energy to those in need. Opening up a market for peer-to-peer energy transactions that drive efficiency in buildings, optimize the electric grid, eradicate energy waste and create a climate friendly economy for our children’s children to live, work, play and thrive.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
Vinny was the first person I brought on the team because of his background in product development. We worked together at EnerNOC where he was on the product team. Prakash is an SME in value engineering and pricing. He joined the team when we began pricing for the beta test. Prakash has traveled the world giving talks on pricing and — more specifically — SaaS subscription pricing.
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Yes, we provide a full-service digital energy platform that monetizes various behind-the-meter energy resources to improve efficiency and optimize the electric grid. Our platform provides 30% savings on average and at the same time pays customers for their efficiency and flexibility utilizing AI/ML to eradicate energy waste before it happens. In addition, we deliver a higher ROI than all of our competitors. The average payback period is 6 months or less.
What does your business model look like?
One time activation fee plus monthly subscription. The customer retains 100% of savings and revenue generated on the platform. No more giving away a portion of the hard work put in to achieve its results.
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
The ability to democratize energy efficiency and carbon management investment for the average person that wants to make a difference in this space. Funds will be used to grow the sales and product team and to release new features that contribute to the growth of sales.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
We believe that our job is to make the space we occupy better than we found it. The climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our time. It will take a concerted effort to turn the ship around. The COI Energy team is equipped to lead the industry in changing the face of energy with its on-demand marketplace focused on eradicating energy waste.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
Our exit looks like an acquisition by a major software company focused on the environmental management space. We look to achieve at least $500M in revenue prior to our exit.
We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where SaLisa and her team take the company. COI Energy is currently raising on Republic.
About: Olivia Strobl
Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.