“Data are the new black gold. More and more will be available in the future. The real issue will be not their access, but rather their understanding and insight. However, only those who will focus on the human factor can make the difference.” said Christian Camarda. “Data help us to create tailor-made products, however unless focusing on the person at the forefront, there are neither the opportunities nor the results.”. Born in Turin, 36, telecommunications engineer, Camarda is the CEO of Midori, startup winning the sixth edition of Open-F@b Call4Ideas by BNP Paribas Cardif committed to Human Data Science.
Midori, the SME for responsible energy consumption. Its origins
Midori is an innovative SME founded in 2011, first hosted in the I3P Incubator of the Politecnico di Torino and since 2018 based at the Energy Center of the Politecnico di Torino. It is a company engaged in the production and selling of energy analysis and smart metering services to provide accurate and detailed energy data. “The idea was born during a university master’s degree in Turin where I met colleagues who, like me, are keen on energy efficiency,” said the startup founder. “Together with other engineers we started to think about the possibility to offer people tools more advanced than those already (and actually still) on the market for a responsible energy consumption”. The idea behind the then startup is clear: implementing solutions to help people and companies better understand how to use energy and reduce unnecessary waste. Awareness is the element behind any solution offered by Midori, while technology and innovation serve the person, an active and responsible part of a new and sustainable lifestyle.
Christian Camarda is joined by Awet Abraha Girmay (Ethiopian telecommunications engineer), Davide Comba (senior developer, expert in web and mobile coding), Francesca De Santis (she deals with communication and clients: “We started selling products and client feedback is fundamental for us”, clarified Camarda), Virginia Vassallo (social psychologist, dealing with the social design of the product: the analysis of client’s needs is turned into features and services to be embedded in the product).
Today this SME is working with companies in the energy sector such as Iren, Liquigas, Repower, Evolvere and Domotica Labs, generating revenues from the very first year for an overall amount of 1.2 million euros, thus self-financing the development of its technologies, the result of know-how gathered over 7 years of R&D in the ICT field.
Underpinning this success are products made by Midori, Kiui (the first already launched on the market) and NED (the winning product of Open F@b).
Kiui, the first Midori product (NED’s big bro)
Kiui is a web platform designed to calculate the energy profile of a house so as to be integrated into the digital energy and gas supply systems of companies. No hardware required at all. Everything is on the web. Kiui functioning is based on an interview about the house analyzed and the devices present and in a few minutes a detailed report on home energy consumption is issued. According to the result of the report, Kiui reports how to optimize and reduce house energy consumption and expenses, providing a simulation of the consumption by adopting the energy saving tips. Indeed, Kiui provides a “snapshot” of the annual consumption of household appliances in kWh, Euro and kg of CO2; unknown data to date since hidden within the aggregate data provided by the energy bill. Thanks to this product, created immediately after the launch of the startup, Midori has started up a number of key partnerships with Repower, Liquigas, Iren and Evolvere. “The revenues from these partnerships have been used to work on NED, the product awarded at Open F@b”, said Camarda.
NED, the first Made in Italy smart meter to monitor household appliance consumption
NED is a device to keep an eye on how much energy home appliances consume. It connects simultaneously with all the devices in the house, without the need to install a number of expensive and invasive metering tools. Today, in fact, the energy monitoring market only offers solutions consisting of metering devices (Smart Plugs) to be connected to each appliance; this means high costs for the user and the impossibility of installing the Plugs near built-in or wall-mounted appliances. NED, on the other hand, easily connects to the electrical panel of the house and through a single smartphone app allows access to a whole range of services, to discover the real use of energy and save up to 20% on bills per year.
How NED works
NED is the result of a long-standing research and development in machine learning and data analytics and its core value is in the proprietary algorithms of the cloud-based electrical load recognition platform. NED in fact analyzes the consumption of the house captured by the measurement device and searches for the “electrical fingerprints” that the main appliances leave on the electrical track while running, to determine their use and consumption. However, this product is much more than just a monitoring tool as it can report over consumption and anomalies, alerting to possible failures of appliances, suggesting cheaper energy rates on the market or more efficient appliance models.
“We aim to break new ground in the Smart Home applied to the energy sector”, points out Midori CEO. “Thanks to NED we can provide citizens and companies with specific and detailed energy data, such as those on consumption of household appliances, inaccessible to date, but essential to know how energy is used and consider which measures should be taken to reduce emissions and waste, as well as bills”.
The reference market
Refrigerators left open or frozen, half load washing machines, obsolete or malfunctioning devices: every year in Italy residential energy waste amounts to over 4 billion euros and in fact 9 Italians out of 10 say they are absolutely unaware about the consumption of their appliances, let alone how to save and avoid unnecessary waste. “NED is designed to meet this need and make citizens more and more eco-oriented” added the CEO. Together with Safety and Heating, solutions for the management of household appliances drive the Italian market of Smart Home services for citizens and businesses, which in 2017 in our country was worth 250 million euros (+35% compared to 2016). NED is part of one of the most interesting sectors in a fast-growing market, whose expected value at European level by 2020 is 15 billion euros.
The business model
The business model is B2B: “We wish to involve partners such as utilities, but also insurance companies and banks. These 3 players can offer NED to their customers” explained Camarda. “In this way, insurance may be interested in giving its customers what we call the “black box” of the house, an energy efficiency service: it is also a useful tool for insurers to better understand the needs of their customers, increasing the value of their offer” added the CEO. He is also working with a Piedmontese utility for the installation and testing of a thousand NEDs. “These will be installed next year and a partnership is being established to renew this order” he explained. In addition, “we sold 200 of them on our e-commerce: it costs 249 euros, including the metering sensor, the app access, the monitoring service and the electrical efficiency, and all the software updates of the app are included in the price”.
However, Camarda and his team are hoping to reach agreements with energy and gas suppliers in the near future: “Just imagine how cool it would be if someday your supplier were to deliver you not only a bill, but also a tool to save both money and energy. This is the future we dream of”.
At the moment the SME is mainly focused on the Italian market. “It’s an interesting context – said Camarda – we Italians are sensitive to energy issues. In addition, in our country there are about 700 energy retailers, medium and small businesses, very robust at the local level. We consider it an interesting country to focus on”.
Winning the Open F@b call4ideas of BNP Paribas Cardif
“Initiatives such as those of Open F@b are a great opportunity for startups to get a showcase difficult to reach by following the traditional business process” said the CEO. He added: “They have shown interest in our product; in the next few weeks we will meet to get to work together and we hope to launch pilot projects for their customers so as to have a partnership with them”.All rights reserved