It is said that several of the most famous start-ups in the world were born in garages. However, OpenDomo was born in a kitchen as the way to solve the needs of a couple which, after buying a new house, found out the products they were looking for didn’t exist in the market. Integrated by five entrepreneurs with careers related to Electronics and Financial Services, the start-up works in the research, development, manufacturing and marketing of intelligent control products such as a platform that learns from user behavior in order to provide energy savings.
In only 18 months since its start as a company, they have not only been able to deliver its first product, ODEnergy, but also to find their first customers. CEO of OpenDomo, Ms. Elisabeth Cuenca explains more.
What is ODEnergy and where its idea comes from?
ODEnergy is a solution that allows the consumption of different connected appliances or electric systems to be analyzed separately. The story of this product began with a huge electric bill we received at home. As a normal home we only had one meter and we found it was impossible to separate the consumption of any of our appliances, so we could not prove that any of them could have generated the bill.
When we looked in the market to see which product we should have had installed at home to avoid this situation, we saw there were only network analyzers and general energy meters which were either very expensive or had a very high margin of error. It was then when we realized as well that we couldn’t find out either if it was worth replacing the appliance to reduce the electricity bill, or to see which had consumed so much electricity. And if you do not know where the high consumption comes from how can you take steps to correct it?
What is innovative in ODEnergy?
The competitive advantage of ODEnergy is software based. Its technology, patent pending, uses artificial intelligence and allows you to register consumption more efficiently than any other product on the market. This efficiency makes us noticeably cheaper than products that may have similar uses because we minimize, for example, the associated hardware costs.
What kinds of companies are showing interest in your product?
Our first customers are coming from the retail sector and we are also going to develop a pilot project for an electric power reselling company. Although the idea for ODEnergy comes from solving the needs from residential customers,. industry interest was already detected in the market research we conducted because of own our needs as a group of potential entrepreneurs.
What do you mean by “own needs as potential entrepreneurs”?
At the moment when the idea for ODEnergy emerged we were working in a domotic platform called ODNetwork. My now colleagues, then friends, wanted to evolve it from the software you can now download for free on our website, to a full commercial product. They realized that in order to achieve this, they needed to leave their jobs but they also did not see how they would be able to live on the generated income of the ODNetwork.
This was the reason that led us to first analyze the market in the case of ODEnergy: to see if there was a strong enough demand for us to devote the time required to generate a commercial product. The outcome of our analysis showed a great business opportunity and it was then when we decided that we would seek investors and help in order to launch our own company.
When did you come in contact with KIC InnoEnergy?
It was when we started looking for funding; that in fact, KIC InnoEnergy found us. Yes, it was like this: we were attending an event related to Entrepreneurship, when the Business Creation Officer of KIC InnoEnergy proactively contacted us, as he saw we were working in sustainable energy related technologies. After a few weeks, we joined the incubator in Barcelona.
What is the value you have received from KIC InnoEnergy?
Coaching has proven the greatest value KIC InnoEnergy has been to us so far. Without our coach we would have progressed much more slowly. We have dealt with several situations much better thanks to his help and the perspectives given on how to assess problems. Secondly, it has also been of great value the help given in the search for and your relationship with Business Angels.
Last but not least, and although this may still need further study, we also believe there is the case for business collaboration with one of start-ups in the incubator.
What are the needs in which you would like KIC InnoEnergy to help you in the future?
We are also interested in being able to use the European footprint and KIC InnoEnergy’s network of partners to reach the whole European market. Besides that, we would like you to help us participate in collaborative innovation projects, where we could contribute with our know-how and which were interesting to us in order to extend our current competences or to acquire new capabilities and enhance our product roadmap.
What projects do you have for the coming months?
We want to reduce the costs of ODEnergy both to improve its competitiveness and for financial reasons. In order to do that, our first three sales representatives have joined our team and we are also going to position ourselves in online purchase platforms. We are also very excited about the interest shown by a leading company in the Iberian market in trying to integrate our technology into its electric car projects.