Last July, I met Sam Lowe at the Internet of Things meetup I organise for Xively. He was working at British Gas at the time and we got talking. British Gas has a product development group called Connected Homes (they just launched their own #iot product called Hive) who were interested in organising a hackday but I really wanted them to do something else entirely: give money away to startups in the home energy sector. I figured if I was having trouble finding funding for Good Night Lamp, I was probably not the only one. But unlike a consumer product that’s a little blurry in its market space (part tele health, part social) an energy startup is a pretty clear offering.
I didn’t exactly know how many people had startups in that space, so I started working with Mark Lowther and we started planning a series of events called Connecting Homes which started with a startup competition for home energy startups where a cash prize was given out to the 3 most innovative startups. We were also fortunate enough to have Martha Lane Fox deliver an amazing keynote and stay for the day to join the panel of judges who went around the room. I roped the wonderful Ana Bradley into helping organise the day as well as SuperNova studio who share my office with me.
We had over 50 startups apply from around the world who were all squarely in #iot territory but for home energy which was great. 25 of them showcased on September 28th and 3 of them ended up with a cash prize. We’re not stopping there though as we move towards an online community for the startups where they can share knowledge and opportunities as well as Office Hours where startups in the home energy space who want to talk to British Gas about a technical problem, testing opportunities or funding can sign up.
I’ve been working with energy companies since the Tinker days, and it’s a real pleasure to help startups get the best of large corporates in this space. The glue between the 2 is really essential and that’s how greener homes will happen.