Better for the Planet than Farmville -- SimpleEnergy Makes Saving Energy a Game

WHAT: Reduce individuals' energy consumption with game mechanics. Customers see how their usage compares to those of their friends and share their achievements on Facebook. Rewards include prizes like iPads and even electric cars. SimpleEnergy gets context about customers (e.g., house size) from city records and factors in weather conditions when alerting people about their usage trends.

Available only to customers of utilities that work with SimpleEnergy and those who buy a third-party device that attaches to their meter (about $200).

LAUNCHERS: Yoav Lurie, CEO [ @yoavlurie, LinkedIn ]. Justin Segall, EVP [ @JustSegall, LinkedIn ]. Chris Ennis, VP [ @ChrisEnnis, LinkedIn  ].

WHEN: August 2011 / Boulder.

WHY: Many utilities get incentives from regulators to reduce energy consumption. Utility companies need to engage with their customers, something they typically have not done. Simply telling people how much energy they use does not change behavior, and most people don't know what they should do to cut consumption.

BUSINESS MODEL: Charging utilities. Yoav says that once SimpleEnergy can show that consumers are reducing energy consumption, the model will become "paying us for kilowat-hour savings, actual energy savings instead of on a per-customer basis."

COMPETITION: Opower, which shows your neighbors' consumption on paper (i.e., not social). Yoav says they admire the company, which has "done the groundwork for us."

CUSTOMERS/GROWTH: Has signed deal with a top-20 utility (name to be revealed August 15) and a state public utility commission. Close to signing with six more utilities. Yoav says they are targeting "progressive utilities" nationwide. Worth noting that utility deals typically take 12 to 18 months -- SimpleEnergy signed its first utility in eight weeks.

: Luke Beatty, who founded Associated Content and sold it to Yahoo, chose to mentor SimpleEnergy because the founders are doing something that hasn't been done before: "These guys are starting something that can be really revolutionary -- how do you and i interact with a utility?"

Since entering TechStars, Luke says the three founders have learned how quickly things can change and have come to understand "simplifying your message and getting people to create common language around something they've never even fathomed before."

RAISING: Undisclosed amount. Yoav says they expect to close in a few weeks.

EMPLOYEES: 3 and hiring.


On her dashboard, a participating utility customer can see her own energy score, usage over time and most importantly the scores of friends and neighbors, plus recent activity from friends. She earns points for actions like inviting friends and completing her profile.