Ohmconnect is the platform that pays you to save on your own electricity bills. You heard that correctly: they pay you to save money! Taking advantage of the IoT, their software is integrated with a number of smart devices already, including Nest, Tesla, and Belkin devices. Oh, it works manually, too, for those who aren’t plugged in to the Internet of Things.
Co-founder Matt Duesterberg cuts to the chase.
Tell us about the service.
We pay our users to reduce their electricity use at specific times when the energy grid is under stress. We detect when ‘peaker’ plants, which are expensive and carbon-intensive power plants, are about to switch on and we notify our users to use less power. We call these #OhmHour events and they usually occur 1-2 times per week for about 30 minutes. Users receive an alert via text or email, or they can connect home automation devices like the Nest thermostat, various smart switches, or even electric cars, to automate the whole process.
To the user, Ohmconnect is very simple, but behind the scenes we have built a sophisticated system to track regional energy markets, which are command centers that buy newly generated (wholesale) energy and then sell it to utilities. The energy market predicts how much energy the system needs, based on historical data. However, 1% of the time, the market under-forecasts demand, in which case it will call upon peaker plants to provide additional supply. The advantage of peaker plants is ramp up speed, but the tradeoff is inefficiency, pollution, and cost. In fact, that 1% of time accounts for 15% of market costs, with prices soaring from the about $40 MWh to as much as $1,000 MWh.
With Ohmconnect, the energy market has another option. Instead of buying energy from peaker plants, the energy market relies on our users to reduce their electricity use at the right time, effectively selling their saved energy back to the grid. This reduces system costs, restores balance on the grid, and removes the need for highly polluting power plants near our neighborhoods.
How is it different?
We are different from other energy services because we actually pay our users for making wise energy choices. While much of the competition is focused on a general approach towards energy efficiency, we home in on the most detrimental aspects of our national energy supply.
Other key points of differentiation include:
- We are targeting the residential sector, where most of the competition is focused on commercial clients.
- Our business model thrives on a quick, lean, direct-to-consumer approach as opposed to partnering with and distributing through utilities.
- We focus on the supply-side of the markets to alleviate wholesale price spikes, whereas our competition focuses on demand-side services to counter summer blackouts.
- It’s free to use and we are the only company that pays people for specific energy use changes.
- It’s a software-only solution that works with existing hardware at the home—the smart meter.
- We integrate with smart home devices and electric cars to automate energy reductions so our most savvy users never have to lift a finger.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Ohmconnect is unlocking a latent $2B in economic value derived from deregulated energy markets, which includes California, much of the eastern seaboard, New York, portions of the Midwest, and Texas.
What is dirty electricity?
Dirty electricity is electricity sourced from peaker plants. These plants quickly burn fossil fuels to account for unexpected demand on the grid, but they pollute more than usual and much of the raw resources go to waste, as they are very inefficient.
What is the business model?
Our customers are regional energy markets. We bid energy reductions into these markets as if we were supplying an equal amount of energy generation. We retain a percentage of what we sell into the market and pass the remainder directly to our users.
Tell us about your experience with NYC BigApps thus far.
NYC BigApps has been a phenomenal experience from the start. Seeing all the brilliant participants and their game changing ideas has been nothing short of inspiring. The breadth and depth of solutions is what has impressed us most.
In which category is your app and why is your app the best in that category?
Our app is in the Learn and Live categories. Ohmconnect is the only app that teaches users how to reduce their environmental footprint and pays them for improving. In addition, we’ve unlocked new insights and data from existing hardware to help users better integrate the devices in their lives.
Why is New York the place to launch your particular app?
New York is an ideal place for us to launch our app because progressive energy policies have been implemented across the region, which enable smart grid innovations such as ours. The opportunity we’re creating lies at the intersection of these policies and the explosive growth of the “Internet of Things.”
What would winning NYC Big Apps mean for your company?
Securing a foothold in one of our target markets, especially one as a large as New York, will help us provide significant improvements to air quality. We estimate that we can abate approximately 1 ton of carbon dioxide per person per year.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?
Bill Trenchard at First Round Capital. Our cleanweb approach to scalability and capital-efficiency is very much in line with other high-impact First Round investments, such as The Climate Corporation.
What’s your favorite summer time beach destination close to NYC?
Fort Tilden Beach… how can you argue with a hidden beach only accessible by bike?