We talked to Alonzo Romero Lauro of The Predictive Company on how they offer a SaaS solution for energy efficiency based on artificial intelligence and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alonzo Romero Lauro: We are all fine, and that is the most important thing! Thank you for asking.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded The Predictive Company.
Alonzo Romero Lauro: My career has been for many years (20+) mainly in marketing for big corporations (in 3 different countries: Ireland, France and Spain); I started with Microsoft, Oracle, L’Oréal, Dell, GettyImages, but then I got a terrible illness…which is the willingness to be an entrepreneur…I still didn’t find the cure…
So, as at that time I was living in the south of France, I started my first startup in the perfumery sector; I wanted to bring an innovative concept in that sector. It was a perfume creation kit, perfumes that could be mixed in order to create your unique fragrance. The current startup, The Predictive Company, was born within the Collider program of the Mobile World Capital. It’s a program where they select deep tech projects to form the university with market potential, and they put in contact the researchers from where the technology comes from, with people from the world of business like myself; 2 colliding worlds the scientific and the business one that has difficulties in understanding each other, but when they manage to speak the same language, they become unstoppable. On my side, I was looking for an impact project, and I fell in love with this project immediately and decided to lead it. So we passed the selection, The Mobile World Capital invested, and everything started, it was June 2019.
How does The Predictive Company innovate?
Alonzo Romero Lauro: We offer a SaaS solution for energy efficiency based on AI. Thanks to his predictive algorithms, it allows extra saving and reduction of CO2 emissions in any type of non-residential building.
We innovate in many areas:
We use algorithms that combine neural networks, known for their ability to generate representations of complex non-linear systems thanks to the transformations that occur in successive layers of neurons, with a fuzzy logic system, which allows us to introduce into the model subjective aspects, such as the comfort threshold, due to its formulation based on lexical rules. This algorithm is known as ANFIS (Artificial Neuro Fuzzy Inference System) and is presented as one of the most accurate techniques in state of the art.
Predictive maintenance support:
Another differentiator is that the predictive models are based not only on future energy demand but also on machinery operating at its optimum point of consumption. That knowledge allows us to detect higher saving but also possible faults of the machine before they become worst, opening the door to predictive maintenance of machinery.
The possibility of adding any type of variable that is considered relevant (for example, meeting room occupancy calendar) while other solutions have a closed and limited number of variables that they can consider.
In addition, our self-learning algorithms model the building and, learning about it, can detect changes in the building’s habit, adapting to those changes. The highest level of personalization.
The Business model:
We make our technology available to the ESCOs, Facility Management and IoT platforms for them to use with their clients, and we are not looking directly for end-users.
We keep the most scalable part of the business as we don’t need to install any device; our service is just an exchange of data in the cloud.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Alonzo Romero Lauro: It had a huge impact for us as we had around 6 projects ready to start, and they all got stopped due to the lockdown…priorities changed for the facility managers…and as we are a startup in its first steps, we risked the end of our existence.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Alonzo Romero Lauro: Definitely, we couldn’t advance with the recruitment we had planned for, and we even lost one of the founders on the way, who decided to pursue other goals.
When the pandemic started, I immediately created contingency plans and followed the financial evolution every week; it was hard, but we reacted fast, and I believe that is the great lesson; react fast, adapt, and you will survive!
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Alonzo Romero Lauro: We didn’t feel the need to change the tool we were using, but it is true that our targets, during the lockdown, had more time to talk, and although every project was on hold, we managed to talk to very key players we struggle to talk before and that was key as now those conversations are materializing in new projects.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Alonzo Romero Lauro: We received some minor pandemic-related help, like postponing tax payment or minor salary integrations, but they wouldn’t have been enough to survive.
Our innovative technology has saved us, as fortunately here in Spain, there are 2 recurring specific assistance provided to innovative startups, and we benefited from both:
Enisa, provide participatory loans at advantageous conditions.
Neotec from CDTI is a very substantial state-help provided only to top innovators with a very tough selection process, so we are very proud to have received it. It’s a proof of our innovative aspects and the potential of our solution and its evolutions.
Your final thoughts?
Alonzo Romero Lauro: While we tend to focus on the challenges the pandemic brought to all of us, from the other side, it has bought as well an immense amount of lessons to treasure from, and one of the key ones is the importance of our impact on the planet, which is the main idea behind our solution.
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