Driving Consumer Value: Tendril Participates in the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative 2013 Members Meeting
September 27th 2013
This past week, representatives from Tendril traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the annual Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative Members Meeting. Along with other industry thought leaders, Amy Marmolejo, Tendril CFO, and Candice Peaslee, Marketing Specialist, participated in a two-day members meeting at Pepco Headquarters brainstorming ways to best engage consumers with the smart grid.
SGCC Executive Director Patty Durand leads a passionate group of employees who organized the meeting to bring together over 50 bright minds from companies like Landis + Gyr, Duke Energy, Accenture, IBM, and GE Energy, among others. “Connecting with other organizations working to educate and engage is always exciting, and this meeting was no exception,” says Amy Marmolejo. “There’s a lot of work to be done, as a recent SGCC study showed that 54% of consumers are unfamiliar with the term ‘smart grid’. Tendril is very committed to this initiative.”
One of the most impressive pieces of work the SGCC has done recently has been the creation of a consumer-facing smart grid education website. The SGCC is dedicated to raising consumer awareness of the smart grid, as their study also showed only 17% of respondents felt like they had a basic understanding the concept. SGCC meeting attendees were given an in-depth view at the work that has gone into the site, including the amount of resources for consumers, like an FAQ section and links for further reading and research.
Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability at the US DOE delivered a forward-thinking perspective on smart grid engagement at the event. Her office recently released the “Voices of Experience: Insights on Smart Grid Customer Engagement” guide, which is a free report available on their website for download. This report threads together dialogue between utilities and the DOE about important smart grid initiatives.
Tendril’s commitment to consumer engagement through a variety of solutions including paper/email home energy reports, and an online consumer engagement portal helps our utility customers offer an in-depth view of energy usage to their customers. Tendril fully supports the efforts of the SGCC as they work to provide consumers knowledge and empowerment on their energy use.
The Tendril team very much enjoyed getting to know other members of the SGCC and learning how Tendril can help in achieving their goals. Our gratitude goes to Patty and the whole SGCC team for a great members meeting.
September 25th 2013
By Chris Black
I recently read the article in SmartGridNews about the 12 things to do for better customer engagement. If you haven’t read it, you should. I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts around a couple of the key points. While all of the points Jesse Berst shared are valuable, points 7 through 12 really resonate with all of us here at Tendril as a part of our core philosophy.
Our foundational philosophy is that consumers today want choice. They want personalized content that cater to their situation, to their lifestyle. Consumers demand more and more attention from their energy providers, necessitating the need for more customer engagement––for better customer engagement. Consumers today want to engage through myriad channels—mobile, social, online, etc. And, in turn, brands are playing catch up to meet customer expectations while focusing on business fundamentals.
Utilities are facing the same challenge, coupled with the added pressure of meeting energy efficiency mandates under cost pressure. However, as pointed out by point 8 in the article, there are easy-to-use, customer-centric tools available that address these issues and help to solve the problem by engaging consumers in new and better ways.
We believe that these new solutions and tools must be built on an open platform. In other words, technology that works across any network, talks to any device and through any application. On an open platform, utilities can adapt and can develop solutions to their customers’ engagement level. Engagement can range from home automation to children actively monitoring their family’s energy use via an educational web app.
This brings me to point 12—encourage children and youth. Any parent with school-aged children knows how vigilant they are about recycling and the impact they can have on household behaviors. We’ve seen the same response about managing home energy use, through our partnership with Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRL) and Central Maine Power.
GMRI recently launched the PowerHouse education initiative. PowerHouse empowers 7th and 8th grade students to analyze actual home electricity consumption data collected using smart electrical meters. The program allows middle-schoolers to be personally involved in monitoring and reducing their home energy use.
We will have more to share on the PowerHouse program soon, but we couldn’t agree more that we all need to spend time encouraging youth to understand and take responsibility for their home’s energy use and, in turn, to help influence the adults in their lives.
Tendril provides a software solution to utilities and service providers that enable them to better engage with their customers. We will continue to develop and deliver products that allow for and power new ways to connect and engage so that we are always creating value for our customers.
September 18th 2013
Tendril COO Chris Black will join John Kindgeski of Edgelink and Kelly Taylor of Pivotdesk as they share advice on how startups can build the best team of employees. The panel takes place on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 from 5 to 7 PM at NewsGator Technologies (950 17th St., #2500, Denver).
The panel will focus on how to hire the best employees at different stages of a startup, including setting realistic objectives, creating internal and external job descriptions, reaching the best candidates, developing corporate culture, successful onboarding and employee retention.
It’s the employees at any startup who give the business the best opportunity for success. Chris will be sharing some of the approaches and guiding principles we’ve applied at Tendril to build a culture of dedication, fun and productivity. If you’re a startup and want to build a productive and ambitious team, be sure to attend this panel discussion.
Denver Startup Week is intended to unite the entrepreneurial community in Denver and celebrates the great companies, innovation and ideas happening in the City and the people and inspiration behind them. For more information on this event, check out the Startup Week website.
September 17th 2013
In our industry, we’re often focused on brainstorming ways to leverage nature to deliver smarter energy. These past few days however, we had a rare and humbling opportunity to experience firsthand nature’s awe and destructiveness.
Boulder is home to Tendril’s corporate headquarters. And it’s where we assemble five days a week to collectively build, support and market customer engagement applications that connect consumers with their home energy use. Only this past week was not like any regular week. On Tuesday the rain started falling, and on Wednesday night, a few of us saw the creek starting to swell in between flashes of lightning from the second floor of our Boulder Creek adjacent office. But we certainly weren’t prepared for what would hit us Thursday morning. Little did we know that we would receive nearly 14 inches of rain over the next few days.
The emails started to flood our inboxes alongside the news reports and raindrops pooling in our neighborhoods and our towns. From all over the Boulder area, the Tendril community was reaching out with digital arms, offering a couch and a helping hand. As we heard from those in Longmont and Lyons and Nederland, and watched from our windows, our laptops and our televisions of the water levels rising, we counted our blessings and hoped for the best.
The sun would come out. We knew it would. And at some point this past weekend, it did. Monday and Tuesday in the office and we’re all rather numb. The damage so fresh in our minds, and so much left to do. But it’s events like this that bring our Tendril community even closer together. It also brings into sharper focus how we can lend a helping hand in our community. We opened our doors to another Boulder-area startup lending them some office space as they regroup and recover from the flood damage. It’s the least we can do for another startup in need. And we’re happy to help.
Events like this help to reaffirm our passion in the importance of what we do. We know that supporting an open platform for energy apps could potentially help to solve some of the problems a catastrophe brings to surface. It has also brought our Tendril community together and resolves us for whatever will come next.
We’re proud to be a Boulder company. And we’re proud to provide a platform that drives innovation in the energy space.
September 11th 2013
We’ve been working diligently to conduct business that adheres to the vision we laid at the beginning of 2013. Our driving force has been and continues to be providing customizable consumer engagement solutions built on an open platform. A platform that is first and foremost open, scalable, and secure.
Ensuring the quality, durability and future proofing of our products has been our top focus over the past few months. We know that delighting and engaging the consumer is essential to the success of our business. With a stronger emphasis on analytics in 2013, we’ve found that consumers who use Energize spend on average ten minutes per month engaging with their utility. These figures are in strong contrast to the average U.S. energy customer, who spends only seven minutes a year interacting with their energy provider, often in regards to a specific issue.
At the beginning of 2013, we spoke about how important it is to continue cultivating our superb cloud computing capabilities. And this year, we’ve been working to better optimize our open platform for proliferation and success.
We’ve rebuilt the Connect platform from the ground up with a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that scales with our customers and their consumers. The Tendril Connect platform now ingests and stores over five terabytes of data per month. To put this number in perspective, the web archives at the Library of Congress also grow at a rate of five terabytes per month. It’s a lot of data, and our new platform architecture scales to support even more.
We believe that by supporting an open platform for third-party app development, we’re giving consumers choice. And consumer choice and engagement is the future of success in this industry.
We’re unbelievably excited for what’s to come in the last part of 2013, with a continued emphasis on our open, extensible platform and driving innovation in the home energy management space.
August 26th 2013
January 21st 2013
As we take on a new year, we wanted to look back at some lessons learned in 2012 and graph how these lessons will shape the energy management landscape in the coming year. We’ve learned many valuable lessons over the years and thus embraced the guiding principles we’ve seen work and which we’ve adhered to ever since:
- Be humble about our ability to pick the killer application and focus instead on building an open platform that allows everyone to innovate and create an unlimited number of killer apps.
- Focus on the consumer because surprising and delighting customers is the key to energy business transformation and success.
- Incorporate data and analytics to create value for all participants.
- Focus on cloud computing as the emerging dominant force in computing architectures.
Of these four lessons, one theme we’ve seen consistently holding true and shaping the future is that open platforms always win.
Though closed platforms may be easier — and many companies start off with this approach because it is easier – we believe long-term success is dependent on an open platform. Though open platforms are harder to build, it is only through an open platform that 3rd party developers can innovate and build the applications that will help ignite consumer excitement about controlling when, where and how they use energy.
One of the critical components to our profitability was opening our platform, which now has over 500 registered developers serving the needs of different kinds of customers. For us it’s incredibly important to engage with developers, which is why we opened up our APIs and have hosted many hackathons. We’ve seen first-hand how the developer community can drive new revenue and unexpected revenue streams for our technology. Many of the tech giants like Amazon and Salesforce realized early on the importance of engaging with the developer community, and having an open platform like ours allows us to work with virtually any developer.
Catering to a broad set of individuals is also crucial to our next theme — focusing on the consumer and, more specifically, that one size does not fit all.
Our energy provider customers serve a broad range of unique consumers. They have unique lifestyles, unique values, unique technology capabilities, unique homes, unique families…the list goes on. This all means that these consumers have unique energy needs and demands.
All of our technologies at Tendril are rooted in behavioral science, and all our products offer customizable solutions that help utilities and their customers better communicate and thus better understanding each other, making home energy management a transparent and mutually beneficial process.
We constantly strive to offer our energy provider customers the best solutions to help them cater to their diverse customer base. Ultimately, customers want choice. By giving utilities the tools they need to deliver greater choice, we help create a win-win for both parties and foster a more meaningful and sustainable relationship between the two.
We’re looking forward to 2013. It has started off as a new year rife with opportunities to provide utilities with viable solutions not only found through our products, but also through applications developed by others on our open platform. As I’ve said in the past, no one knows what the next killer app will be, but we are happy to be providing the platform that will underpin the energy management creativity of the future.