Artificial intelligence is on the rise. Whilst to many this may trigger alarm bells, most, if not all, will be happy to hear of how London based start-up Verv are putting it to good use in tackling the UK’s rising energy bills. Using a clever set of patented algorithms, Verv is able identify each electronic appliance by seeking out its unique energy signature. It can then break down exactly how much electricity the appliance is using and feed this back to the user in a real-time display. In the CEO’s own words “They’re on a mission to make homes smarter and more efficient, reducing the environmental impact and energy bills of each individual home by tackling energy at its core.” We spoke to CEO and Founder, Peter Davies, to find out more.
Start by describing in your words what your company is and what it does?
Verv, born from Green Running ltd., is a team of machine learning experts and engineers that specialise in energy. We’ve created a home energy assistant that sits next to your electricity or smart meter and uses artificial intelligence to turn all of your appliances smart.
This means you’ll be notified if an appliance is inefficient or deteriorating, if you’ve left something on and how much each one is costing you to run.
We have also developed a blockchain-based peer-to-peer energy trading solution for our smart home product that will allow people with renewable energy and battery storage to share excess with their neighbours who may not have it. This can be done at optimised prices thanks to our artificial intelligence technology that can anticipate the supply and demand of energy.
What do you think makes it distinct to any other companies – what’s its USP?
We can sample energy data at hundreds of thousands of times per second meaning the insights we can give consumers into their homes extend far beyond cost. Not only can we detect what appliances are on by reading electricity signatures, we can tell if your fridge is faulty, if the washing machine drain is starting to block, in fact we can even tell you if you have overloaded the machine. This condition monitoring of your appliances isn’t possible at lower sample rates.
What is your personal background?
I’m a systems engineer who loves machine learning and cool tech. I’m really into music, having spent a year in music school and have always enjoyed playing sport. I love travelling to new cities and seeing the world!
What inspired you to start the company?
I could see the energy industry was so far behind any industry I’d been operating in. When I saw that one sample of energy data every 30 minutes was considered cutting-edge, I knew that the whole industry needed a shake-up and would benefit hugely from this.
What is the story of the company from launch until now? How big is the company now?
The company began with myself and one machine learning guy sitting in an office under a railway bridge. Now we have moved to offices in Monument and are a team of 27 full-time staff!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your company?
Rounding up the first investor, Centrica, 2 years ago.
What’s your biggest milestone/ which are you most proud of?
One of the milestones I’m most proud of is being accepted onto Launchpad, Google’s global startup program who continue to support us on our journey.
What is your business model? How have you monetised your product?
We have developed a business model flexed around our routes to market. Fundamentally we have two main revenue streams for Verv, a full retail priced product when a consumer wishes to buy from a retail environment and a layered subscription model adding services. Since Verv is generating a significant understanding of consumer behaviours and their appliances, we are developing further revenue models through third party retailers and manufacturers who will utilise the data (with permission) to provide a consumer with a better service. This all leads into our vision of a peer-to-peer energy trading solution developed for our Verv hub.
What’s the next step for growth – is the intention to grow the business independently, or look for an exit via acquisition or similar?
As the Verv hub is considered integral to the ecosystem of a number of high profile smart home propositions, it is expected that a trade sale is the most likely exit.
Will you be looking for more funding?
We are currently crowdfunding with CrowdCube as part of our series A investment and it will sit alongside VC and corporate financing.