e@UBC Venture Case Studies is an ongoing series highlighting top ventures from our fully integrated programs.
Making Clean, Responsive Environments With ‘Smart Buildings’
Sensible Building Science (SBS) is changing the way buildings operate and use energy with their plug-and-play technology. The technology integrates with building management systems to accurately monitor real-time occupancy data and modify airflow and temperature controls in regular commercial buildings — making them ‘smart’ buildings.
The team’s mission is to set new standards for building management resulting in health benefits, cost savings and reduced GHG emissions and energy usage. Co-founders Stefan Storey and James Montgomery used their previous experience in the e@UBC Accelerator program to jumpstart their new venture.
“That’s the strength of the e@UBC Accelerator,” said Stefan. “If you’ve done it once, you can apply it to other situations like a company pivot or a completely different idea. It’s a framework that you can just run through again and again, and it sets you up for all the iterations that you have to do in a startup.”
SBS used their customer discovery skills learned from the e@UBC Accelerator to interview energy managers at different universities and discovered that their main concern was reducing energy costs in existing buildings. With that knowledge SBS has been testing their prototypes in UBC buildings. Through the proof of concept testing they’ve shown their technology can result in at least 5% cost savings for universities. The new challenge for SBS is developing the technology in more lucrative markets, such as the commercial building industry.
To do this the SBS team needed to develop a market strategy to enter different segments of the larger commercial building market in Vancouver and abroad, as well as build a financial strategy to secure future funding.
The SBS team had regular meetings with e@UBC mentors and the University Industry Liaison Office to help navigate a variety of government funding programs, such as the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), an organization that helps entrepreneurs accelerate the growth of their business with funding and professional services. e@UBC mentors also helped connect the team with potential investors to practice their investor presentation.
“Working with our mentors and the Vancouver entrepreneurial network has been incredible. They helped us realize the weaknesses in our investor pitch and avoid the common mistakes startups usually make when raising money or driving growth,” said Stefan.
The SBS team also attended the Discovery Foundation Investor Ready Workshop, an intensive full day session that covers all aspects of investor readiness for startup ventures. e@UBC partnered with Bob Chaworth-Musters, founder of the Angel Forum, to offer this workshop to registered ventures. The SBS team was able to practice their investor presentation at the workshop and ensure their investor readiness with experienced Angel Forum mentors.
SBS’s work paid off with three pilot buildings installed in Vancouver and Kelowna and a plan to set up another ten buildings in the Lower Mainland in the next quarter. SBS recently hired new team members to support their growth and entry in the broader commercial building industry. In the near future, SBS plans to raise its first round of angel and government investments and utilize the office space in BCTIA’s The Hub.