September, 20, 2017
IoT Makes Banks and Retail Chains More Energy Efficient
16 Jun
2017
Posted by Madhumita Prabhakar

Backed by pi Ventures, Blume Ventures, Rajan Anandan, Rohit Bansal and Kunal Bahl, Zenatix’ flagship solution, WattMan, uses advanced machine learning based models and delivers 10 to 30 per cent energy efficiency to large commercial consumers of electricity. Its current focus remains on the BFSI and Retail sector, with its solution deployed across 500 customer sites.

Today, with cities becoming hubs of mega structures and the urban technology-driven way of life increasingly becoming the norm, electricity has become a vital component for its sustenance; one which is now not able to keep pace with the increasing demand, at least in India. While the primary focus has been retrofits, operational efficiency has been overlooked. It was observations such as these which led Rahul Bhalla, Dr. Amarjeet Singh and Vishal Bansal to act on this need and build Zenatix, an energy data analytics company, in 2013.

The company’s flagship product, WattMan, has been built over a scalable IoT stack and robust hardware, developed in-house. “Globally, while the operational energy efficiency opportunity is worth more than US $120 billion, we are focussing only on India and South East Asia at the moment; a market which is worth about US $1.5 billion (in ARR terms),” adds its co-founder, Bansal. More specifically, the company is focused on serving retail chains and banks; ones with at least 1,000 branches and 500 retail outlets, respectively. “Given the distributed nature of retail/banking setups, having control over the electricity spend and providing the right customer experience at the same time is a big challenge,” opines Bansal. Take for example, an observation made by the founders; that commercial buildings in India waste more than 30 per cent of the electricity they use. The team believes that WattMan can tackle this challenge by addressing consumption challenges in an automated manner, through its cloud-based intelligent controls, driven by advanced machine learning algorithms. In other words, it employs its proprietary firmware for performing automatic sensing and control. And, the collected data in turn is used to develop machine learning-based models, thus deciding optimal operational settings based on external factors like weather and footfall, and allowing regulated usage and control.

Zenatix currently operates on a subscription-based model, and its product has so far been deployed at over 500 customer sites, with each customer saving up to 12 to 25 per cent of electricity spends.


Globally, while the operational energy efficiency opportunity is worth more than US $120 billion, we are focussing only on India and South East Asia at the moment; a market which is worth about US $1.5 billion (in ARR terms)


Assessing the Market

Both IoT and machine learning being new technologies, Bansal points out that the biggest challenge the company faces is in making customers understand and adapt to it. “While they see the benefits of our product, there is an adoption curve for any new technology or product,” adds he.

Incidentally, it being a recent and fragmented market also makes competition a secondary concern for the company. To add further, the market has some hardware automation companies which have outsourced software and cloud infra capabilities, and software companies which are getting hardware done from third parties. But, Zenatix claims to be the only company which has built the entire product stack; hardware, firmware and software, including the IoT platform. “We believe that having a complete control of the product stack is key to the hardware robustness, and supporting additional use cases for our customers,” points out Bansal.

Customer acquisition for the company, typically works through direct sales and channel partnerships. Being a product operating in a relatively nascent space, education and awareness becomes key to its marketing. “We use a variety of marketing channels to create awareness about our product. Some of these channels are content marketing strategies implemented through blogs and videos, email marketing and direct sales to potential customers,” he states.

Innovate, Partner, Grow

Since founding, the company has raised a total of Rs. 9.2 crore (approx) in funding (in an angel and pre-Series A round) from a string of investors including pi Ventures, Blume Ventures, Kunal Bahl (Snapdeal), Rohit Bansal (Snapdeal), Rajan Anandan and Investopad. It plans to primarily use its latest round of funding (raised in February 2017) towards hiring across all its functions, viz., technology, product, operations and sales. In terms of revenues, it aims to achieve an ARR of US $2 million and become profitable by middle of 2018. “VC investors in India are largely focused on B2C segment as there are not many big success stories in the B2B space in India,” opines Bansal, and adds, “However, after a difficult 2016, the sentiment is changing and investors are now more open towards investing in B2B ventures. A lot of funds we know have a dedicated team to scout for B2B businesses, and energy efficiency and healthcare are two of the primary focus areas for investors.”

With a team size of 30, the goal for Zenatix in the coming years is to continue to develop use cases for its products and innovative technologies to reduce cost of hardware and improve robustness. In fact, as it further grows its base, the company even envisions expanding from energy efficiency to smart retail. “With robust hardware connected to cloud and with good processing capabilities already in place, we envision developing several other industry specific applications which can take our customers to a smart retail solution,” Bansal says. Lastly, the company is also focussing on channel partnerships with other players who provide orthogonal solutions to its target market, to achieve faster growth in a shorter span of time. In addition to WattMan, the company has also launched WattMate (for large commercial complexes), WattMonitor (for factories) and WattCharge (for apartment complexes).


The Opportunity:

With the right hardware, software and firmware, it is now easy to reduce electricity costs with careful energy monitoring, analytics and management.

Solution:

Zenatix has launched a series of products for various customer categories (retail and banking firms with multiple locations, large commercial complexes, factories and apartment complexes) that will enable them to monitor energy usage, and optimize usage based on data analytics. For example, it can enable optimal usage of a diesel generator or benchmark energy spends across multiple branches of a bank


Snapshot

Zenatix

Founders: Rahul Bhalla, Dr. Amarjeet Singh and Vishal Bansal

Year: 2013

Investors: pi Ventures, Blume Ventures, Kunal Bahl (Snapdeal), Rohit Bansal (Snapdeal), Rajan Anandan and Investopad

Impact: Deployed at over 500 customer sites, with each customer saving up to 12 to 25 per cent of electricity spends.

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