By Nick Nelson
Mark Brown has spent the past four years doing research in the clean energy space, where he became acutely aware of the challenges involved with accessing information from regulatory papers, plan documents and annual reports housed within the state commission systems.
So now he’s launching a start-up that, like any good business initiative, solves a problem.
“I’ve lived the need for the services we’re bringing to market,” says Brown, who is in the process of refining his business plan and working toward presenting it to potential investors. His start-up, QuadROI, is one of four being developed in the latest cycle for Project Skyway, a tech accelerator based in downtown Minneapolis.
In a nutshell, Brown’s plan is to take the wealth of relevant public data available to energy efficiency programs – how money is being spent, the impact it’s having, etc. – and aggregate all that information into a central database that is easily accessible and searchable. This is a daunting task, given that many of the numbers need to be parsed out from PDF files and cataloged, but Brown is familiar with the system and has a clear vision.
“We’re pulling together a few different third-party solutions that typically you would see in more of a corporate business intelligence platform,” Brown explains, comparing the concept to Westlaw, a popular online resource for researching legal matters. By integrating existing reporting technologies with a proprietary clean energy data repository , QuadROI will offer a flexible structure that makes it easy to sift through information from regulatory compliance documents and drill down to the most important and helpful nuggets.
The subscription-based service will be B2B focused, giving decision-makers the inside track on industry trends and providing an edge in this competitive market while lessening the need to spend on dedicated consultants. In Minnesota, where the Next Generation Energy Act requires utility companies to reduce energy sales by 1 to 1.5 percent each year, any tool that can streamline processes in the field of renewable resources will be welcomed.
Is anyone else offering a similar type of solution?
“I would say a lot of what’s happening now is you have providers that sell similar information, in terms of being able to benchmark what’s happening in the industry, but they tend to be reports that are static by nature,” Brown says, pointing to companies such as Clean Edge. “[QuadROI] is a service where people can get customized updates.”
In other words, QuadROI’s database will be a living, breathing resource, and he places emphasis on creating a community. Users will be able to create profiles, network through social media and build reputations.
Brown remarks that the process of working with Project Skyway has been “amazing,” noting that his wide-ranging business experience didn’t really equip him to be a tech entrepreneur. With guidance from Skyway’s broad network of mentors, Brown has been able to expand beyond his product-centric background and focus more on the customer development side.
At the end of the day, QuadROI is creating a valuable service that, when it hits the market, could save a lot of time and money for companies looking to save on energy.