By Kay Aikin, CEO
I’m a few weeks home from attending the first sprint at Accel VT, and have had some time to think about what it will mean for Introspective Systems to participate in this program. Designed to support entrepreneurs in the energy marketplace, Accel VT leads a cohort through a series of exercises designed to test assumptions, expose business vulnerabilities, and prepare climate economy companies for investment. There are three sprints in all, and I am excited for this opportunity for a number of reasons.
Introspective Systems isn’t a pure “energy” company – we develop a platform for building applications that manage complex environments. Our xGraph platform helps developers solve problems that use large volumes of streaming data from a variety of sources and in a variety of formats, require rapid and often autonomous decision making, and that need to “learn” over time. Energy is one of our target markets – our platform is particularly suited to tackle problems such as modernizing our ancient energy grid.
Among the first lessons for me in our first sprint is understanding how our technology can fit with others being designed to modernize energy systems. The best description for xGraph within the energy market is as a control technology that helps utilities and consumers better manage electricity flow. Our cohort includes four hardware companies that are distributed energy producers, two control technologies including Introspective, and two energy financial services firms. Each has a role to play in this complex environment, and I’m learning from my peers what challenges they face, what they need to realize goals, and where my technology can and will fit.
One problem that utilities would like to fix is fluctuating energy use. Smooth, steady, predictable power consumption is what they ideally need to provide enough energy at a reasonable price. But electricity users usually don’t cooperate. They use a bunch of energy for 10 minutes, then next to nothing for an hour, then a lot for two minutes … Generating and pricing that kind of energy on demand is a big, big problem for utilities. Electricity might be there when the user flicks the switch, but utilities need to buy power weeks and even months in advance to make it happen.
One way to even out usage and improve forecasting is by changing the way energy is priced – the holy grail is real-time pricing, and until now, no company has been able to do that. It’s exactly the type of complex problem that xGraph was designed to manage, so participating in Accel VT means we can work with other companies who are developing different pieces of the puzzle to understand how to make our technology work for them.
The end game for us is to enable a new, real-time pricing network. Utilities will be able to charge hyper-localized rates for selling energy at the exact point and time of use in the grid. Consumers with fluctuating power use or other expensive behaviors can be rewarded with lower rates when they change their consumption patterns for the better. When we deliver real-time pricing, everyone in the system will win. It will balance the grid, make it easier to control, enable major generators to generate steady and predictable power and allow increased distributed power production like solar.. In my time at Accel VT, I want to learn how Introspective can help our peers create better market share for their technology and products.
I’m looking forward to our next sprint in mid-January, and will report on new lessons learned. We’re all competing for two $25,000 prizes and I hope to report back in February that Introspective Systems has one of the winning checks.