BeeBryte is a French startup focused on a problem we all care about: energy consumption in buildings. They have developed a solution based on artificial intelligence to improve just that. Interview with Elodie Hecq, Managing Director Asia.
What’s the story behind BeeBryte?
BeeBryte was founded end of 2015 in Singapore by Frédéric Crampé and Patrick Leguillette.
Frédéric had been in Singapore for 15 years; years he spent successfully founding and running Cleantech investment banks. Seeing that the wholesale prices of electricity are hugely volatile and highly correlated with CO2 emissions: the cleaner the energy the cheaper, he saw an incredible opportunity. What if we could shift the time when you buy electricity and the time you actually have to use it?
He contacted a friend from his engineering school, back in France. Patrick was working in the hybrid energy industry: wind or solar combined with traditional sources and had a strong background in software engineering – he was immediately enthusiastic about the project.
This is how it all started, with the original idea to via software control a battery to store energy at the right moments, here in Singapore. We patented our first optimization methodology in 2016.
However, the batteries are still quite expensive and not financially viable in most countries. We know it will come and it will be big, but as from 2017 we decided to shift our focus. We saw another opportunity to address a more pressing need: better managing the energy consumption in existing building. Most of it comes from heating or cooling, and obviously in Singapore we focus on Air Conditioning systems.
In addition to that, this is a much more sustainable business, which we’re all very happy with.
So how exactly do you do that?
In short we use artificial intelligence to help office building or factories consume electricity in a smarter, more efficient and cheaper way.
We have built a software-as-a-service with a patented real-time optimization methodology, self-learning models and predictive analytics for dynamic energy management. This platform runs in the cloud.
Then we install a simple IoT Box at the customer’s premises, and we can control flexible electric equipment (such as heating-cooling systems, electric vehicle charging stations, battery storage systems etc.). We focus on the equipment whose operation can be shifted in time without any perceptible impact on comfort or service rendered. The beauty of it is that it can be deployed on almost any cooling systems already deployed.
The cloud platform anticipates the energy needs by analyzing their historical correlations with business activity, weather, building occupation, etc. An optimal control strategy is calculated as often as necessary and the corresponding instructions are sent to the equipment via the Box.
What customers love is how we adjust the A/C with the weather forecasts. This makes us really different from any player, since we don’t just do a static and reactive control. Typically in Singapore, you actually can know a bit in advance when it is going to rain. Just before it’s hotter, whereas when rain comes the temperature will fall down naturally. So you can actually adjust the A/C before it rains, let the rain cool the building down, and then turn up the A/C again afterwards. The idea is simple – the tough part is putting it in place – and our Customers love it!
Where does BeeBryte stand as a business today?
We opened offices in France in 2016 and focused on our product. Most of our technical team was based there and focused on artificial intelligence.
Then we started commercializing our product in 2017 in France and Singapore. In Singapore our biggest Customers are DHL and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and we work with many office buildings, factories, warehouses, museums and universities. We have a foot in 43 buildings as of today!
And in 2018 we raised SGD 4M. This enabled us to recruit a lot of people, many of them in Sales. The team doubled in a few months and was re-balanced between both countires: we now have 15 people in France and 10 in Singapore. Our solutions were mostly ready so the key objective is to strengthen our position in the market in France and Singapore, and grow in UK, Germany, Italy and Malaysia. Then in 2020 we’d like to expand in Australia: this is a very promising market for us but obviously setting up an office there will be costly so we don’t want to rush.
What is in the works in the future?
We were looking for a real partner, not just any VC -and we found it with the CNR -Compagnie Nationale du Rhône. By the way our headquarters are now in France, to be closer to them.
They are the biggest producer of electricity from renewable sources in France. Interestingly they also have a small electricity provider business with which we are working very closely.
In Singapore our positioning will remain as it is today, focusing on the value we bring. The residential market opened recently – in which BeeBryte is not interested – and suppliers spawn from 10 to 25 in the last year. All of them compete on price today, but we believe the winners will be the ones who bring a real, different value. And that’s where we come in…
Most consumers today don’t have access to the wholesale market, so they buy electricity at a determined price. The provider takes a margin to secure the potential peaks.
Hence working with a provider, we could control the loads and the consumption, meaning lower prices and risk for the provider since we balance the peaks, and as such lower prices for our customers. It’s a holistic way to manage your electricity. The objective is to get this offer out in Singapore by the end of 2019.
What are the drivers for customers to buy your solution?
There are really 2 aspects. Some companies are very focused on cost reduction, but the big MNCs are more and more interested in reducing their carbon footprint by 2030. In those cases, we have a lot more discussion with the sustainability teams than operational ones.