Sorry I’m a bit late on this one. Our pitch to The Herkimer-Oneida Community Foundation (aka. The Foundation) is this week. Preparing for that has had much of my attention. Getting a significant amount of capital in (we are asking for $100K) would be huge for increasing our focus, building out our team, pushing our go-to-market strategy, and bridging us to other funding opportunities. But beyond the obvious need for capital, it would be a huge win for approaching social enterprise in a different way. We have heard from plenty of skeptics that community foundations don’t invest in private enterprise, benefit corporation or otherwise.
But we are super-impressed with the leadership at The Foundation, their belief in their economic development mission, and their understanding that we all need to stretch a little if we want our Upstate economies to change for the better. And I’ve talked to plenty of folks in the social enterprise space across the country who say that things are changing. There is heightened awareness of the importance of social enterprise and the opportunity for business to be a force of good. There are fundamental economic principles that show that new ventures and resulting community wealth creation is a fundamental part of reducing poverty and dealing with social justice issues. So, I don’t think it should be surprising to see community foundations getting into the game of supporting local venture creation.
As with everything we do, our goal is to make it easy for them. We aspire to be the poster-child for social enterprise in Upstate NY and getting The Foundation to invest in us would be an incredible milestone for us. We want The Foundation to be part of the Good People story and will do everything in our power to deliver both financial and non-financial returns to the communities they serve.
But What About January?
It was full of ups and downs. We secured another $4K in grant funding, this time from CenterStateCEO, through The Tech Garden, to support travel for sales and delving into the NYC market. Grant money is great, but we had hoped to qualify for more and the process involved means we probably won’t actually see any of it until late in February and, even then, it will only be half.
We finally got a signed Letter of Intent with Mohawk Valley Community College to do a pilot project on their campus, with a target of 32 units and having third party measurement and verification to quantify the impact. We were ecstatic. But as we got deeper into the project, it turned out that the building we thought we were going to do only has a handful single-phase heat pumps, so wouldn’t really work for the full-building study we were looking for. We are still in the hunt with them to look at both their Utica and Rome campuses to see whether there is another building that could be a better fit.
We had some great sales calls with interest from local anchor institutions and energy efficiency folks. But the logistics of going from initial interest to identifying systems we can upgrade for an LOI or purchase order are again proving really slow.
New Allies to Bring the Science
I think I have mentioned that as we have learned more about our markets and customers, we have realized that product development is far from over. Our core variable speed drive technology rocks, but there are all sorts of ways to package and control that variable speed drive to maximize product fit with different segments and applications. The variable speed drive for a residential furnace fan probably doesn’t look the same as the ones to control 200 fan coils in a residence hall.
While we had started talking to Syracuse University’s Center of Excellence last summer, it was really in January that we began to figure out how we could really work together. Ed and Tammy at CoE are on board to help us find SU faculty to help us with new lab testing to characterize how the product saves energy, as well as to support field studies like the one we are working on for MVCC. A nice thing about CoE is that they bring academic and real-world building system expertise, and financial resources to help early stage companies learn and grow.
Probably most exciting, they are willing to help us engage NYSERDA and pursue additional development resources to evolve the product for increased sensors and wireless communication. We are going to repackage the Phoenix for the Internet of Things (IoT). Perhaps we can even help NYSERDA crack the challenge of introducing smart building technologies to small-to-medium commercial buildings.
Sorry to geek out on you there for a minute, but it’s pretty exciting stuff.
Good People January 2018
Several introductory meetings and sales calls with local government, anchor institutions, and contractors interested in energy services
Got started with NYSERDA Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Kyle Blumin
Attended TEC Tuesday event at Carrier’s Innovation Center
Met with MVEdge and Bank of Utica about support and introductions
Secured a $4,000 Ignition Grant through Tech Garden and CenterStateCEO
Participated in NYSEG’s 2018 Commercial Incentives launch webinar
Executed Letter of Intent for a pilot project at Mohawk Valley Community College
Kicked off design of new product brochure with Leah
Participated in environmental roundtable
Met with Syracuse Center of Excellence regarding product testing, research, and support for pursuing additional funding
Met with a potential sales lead about kicking off more systematic local sales efforts in February
Good People November 2017 Core Metrics
Transparency & Engagement: 191 Contacts, 68 subscribers, 94 unique visitors to the website, monthly update and two other blog posts
Sales: 0 new sales, 5 new leads, 7 sales calls
Finance: $300 sales (SUNY Oneonta check arrived), $4,700 grants, $10,353 expenses, Net -$5,353
Energy Savings: still a placeholder until we figure out how to track and calculate
Community: promoted B Corp event on blog and attended environmental roundtable
Human Potential: team at 3 (but with one on hold), partnerships in development
We hope to have some news later this week. Stay tuned.