Entrepreneurship

Tumalaw energy ingenuity proves big

Wednesday, March 5 marked the date of previous meeting of last StartUp Tech Valley, a networking event for entrepreneurs of all stripes at Brown’s Brewing Co. in Troy. After enjoying appetizers and a complimentary drink, attendees were seated to listen to four local startup owners discuss their companies, their stories, and their future plans. Last to take the stage was Will Gathright, PhD ‘11, founder of Tumalow Energy Ingenuity.

Tumalow is a software control system used to regulate energy storage systems. An energy storage system can be viewed as an enormous battery responsible for meeting a building’s energy requirements throughout the day. When electricity is in low demand, the price is cheapest, representing a good time to purchase excess electricity to charge a storage system. During peak hours, both demand and price rise dramatically, and it is cost effective to rely on stored electricity instead of purchasing it through the grid; this practice is called “peak shaving.”.Peak shaving storage systems are useful for reducing spikes in power necessity, but in practice, they remain idle 90 percent of the time, making them an unattractive investment choice for building managers.

With Tumalow, an idle storage system can be turned into a profitable service provider. On the frequency regulation market, these systems can both absorb excess power and provide needed power in exchange for payments, using a competitive bid system. Tumalow will take the spare capability of an energy storage system and apply it to an aggregate network of similar systems, providing a steady revenue stream to each while reducing associated risks. By gaining this additional revenue source through Tumalow and adding it to the economic benefit of peak shaving, such energy storage systems become a much more attractive investment option, approximately twice as profitable. In this way, Tumalow is encouraging the development and integration of these systems, which increase the sustainability of our power consumption while also providing additional revenue to building managers.

Gathright is an alumnus of Rensselaer, where he developed Tumalow’s software system and business model four years ago. He claims that the campus’ Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship propelled his venture in many ways: “the Severino Center served as an invaluable networking tool, introducing me to many of Tumalow’s key contributors and future board members. Being invited to speak at the StartUp Tech Valley meet-up was equally helpful. I would recommend anyone to attend this premier entrepreneurial event and take advantage of the community it has cultivated.” Tumalow is currently seeking funding, as well as partnerships with both facilities managers willing to implement Tumalow and hardware providers involved with the construction of energy storage systems. Those interested can contact Gathright at will.gathright@tumalow.com, or learn more online at tumalow.com.

Be Dumbstruck by

Startup Tech Valley

Mark your calendars for upcoming meetings of StartUp Tech Valley on April 2nd 5:30 to 7:30 PM, at Brown’s Brewing Co. Along with four other startups, Peter Allegretti and Mike Tanski will share Dumbstruck, a Snapchat-esque phone app they’ve developed in Albany. This app allows users to send photos to friends, but whenever a received photo is viewed, the recipient’s camera records a video of their reaction for the sake of the sender. Since its launch just before Christmas, the app has enjoyed steady growth, achieving a rate of 1,000 downloads per minute after exposure on the national Elvis Duran radio show. Dumbstruck contributes much of its success to its location in Albany and the connections it has made there on LinkedIn. Learn more online at www.StartUpTechValley.org.

Also look out for meetings of the Foundry-RPI, which take place Tuesdays (3/18, 3/25, 4/8, 4/15, 4/22, 4/29) 6 to 7:30 PM in the Games Room of the Rensselaer Student Union. This gathering welcomes all entrepreneurs on campus, providing feedback, mentorship, and free food! Details can be found at http://scte.rpi.edu/foundry.html.

Alumni In the News

This past week, Techcrunch covered the launch of Selcuk Atli’s ’09 latest company, a technology called Boostable that provides individual sellers using online marketplaces a smarter way to promote themselves. According to Atli, Boostable is a “massively simple solution” that integrates multiple online market places, through which vendors are able to create quick and simple ads with widespread reach across multiple platforms. Boostable was recently accepted into Y Combinator, an exclusive seed accelerator declared by Forbes magazine to be the top startup incubator in 2012. Selchuk is also the founder of SocialWire, a venture funded recommendation engine for product ads.