Durham's PlotWatt Raises $3 Million Series A Round
And Uses Less Energy Doing It
BY JOE PROCOPIO
Filed Under: NEWS: Startups
I hadn't actually met Luke Fishback until a couple weeks ago, totally unrelated to this story, when he happened to be lurking at the StatSheet offices either having just wrapped up or having just politely refused a ping-pong deathmatch. But I've been following PlotWatt's course for over a year.
StatSheet and PlotWatt both presented at Tech Jobs Under the Big Top in May, 2011. And I was intrigued enough by their presentation, professional and smooth with just the right amount of passion and geekery (after all, these are scientists), to introduce myself to Daniel Arneman and strike up a conversation about the details of what they did.
Let's put it this way, I understood it in about 30 seconds even after three beers (we presented early that night): PlotWatt can track the energy usage in your house down to the appliance level without hardware.
Yeah. Without hardware. To over 90% accuracy. Half the time I can't even tell if my cable box is on or not.
So it comes as no surprise, even in the post-Facebook new normal, that Plotwatt closed a $3 million Series A round in less than six months, pulling in investors from the West Coast, as in Palo Alto's Felicis Ventures, as well as North Carolina Angel firm Acorn Innovestments.
Way to go, home team.
PlotWatt is actually a four year old company, and raised a seed round in early 2011 (from aforementioned Felicis). But Luke tells me it was winning a $100K GE Ecomagination Grant in June 2011 and the resulting hype that garnered some inbound investor interest.
Even so, PlotWatt didn't get serious about fundraising until hitting some major product and market milestones early this year.
PlotWatt's strength as an investment, according to Luke, is the team, along with a defensible technology and early markets that stand up with or without massive future markets. He credits the team as a reason to not even think about the difficulty of raising funds as a North Carolina company.
Beyond the sales and marketing, plus a series of new engineering hires (again dipping into the world-class talent pool of the Triangle region), Luke and PlotWatt will use the funds to grow their multi-location commercial business (think chain restaurants, or for that matter, chain anything).
Even with that bigger, more detailed story to tell, PlotWatt was able to raise in a relatively short amount of time, giving hope to the notion that if you're serious, like scientist serious, the market may not be nearly as bad as some believe.
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Last week, I was in lurking in the back of a room (which is usually where you'll find me), listening to a rather successful entrepreneur give a talk to a bunch of young entrepreneurs, most of whom were students. At one point, he made this distinction.
Well, one thing to note is there was acquisition interest almost from the beginning. I'm a working entrepreneur, and ExitEvent was something I started because I was convinced it needed to exist.
As a startup founder, you're going to get inundated with advice for building and running your company. It's inevitable. You'll be able to tune out 90% of it, but it's going to seep in, whether it's from your advisors, your peers, or your grandmother.
Look, I'm not saying that you're going to walk into every ExitEvent Startup Social and find one table with those kinds of folks sitting at it. But I will say this. If you let the snow keep you home Tuesday night, you missed that chance.