By GREGORY ZELLER // A Stony Brook-based startup is preparing a product launch that could change the way humans and their spaces consume energy.
Launched in 2014, Jasmine Universe – a resident of the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center at Stony Brook University – is currently beta testing at SUNY’s Farmingdale State College, trying out hardware and software combinations designed to maximize energy efficiency by automating systems and tracking consumption.
Next up: a markets-spanning launch that introduces Jasmine’s communication and control products to residential and commercial customers.
The launch will happen later this year, according to Bruce Germano, a former LIPA vice president and now Jasmine’s director of energy market services. That may seem fairly quick for a tech startup launched just a year ago, but according to founder and CEO Mohan Wanchoo, the thinking and technology behind Jasmine Universe goes back five years.
The company’s proprietary equipment – a mobile app, a “smart console” (the “hubb”), wall plugs (the “ploggs”) and an advanced thermostat (the “statt”) – is actually the result of several years of planning and design, according to Wanchoo, who said he is “happy that we’ve reached the point that it can be deployed in the marketplace.”
What will be deployed is “very simple,” Wanchoo noted. The hubb communicates with the appliances operating within a home or business, monitoring usage and calculating the best energy-reduction formula. It also chats with the statt, a “smart” thermostat that monitors temperature, tracks peak-usage times and relays other critical information.
The app, meanwhile, gives users real-time control – via smartphone, tablet or computer – of the plogg, which fits between electrical cords and wall outlets and serves as both an energy monitor and an on/off switch.
“All of the information is presented to the homeowner or business owner so they can make intelligent choices and decisions on how their appliances are consuming energy,” Wanchoo said.
The idea, according to Germano, is to remove the “silo between the provider and the consumer.”
“It’s important to understand the way the energy world works today,” Germano added. “Consumers have a different lifestyle than they did before,” he added. “They think more about energy efficiency. At home, you get your bill 30 days after you use your appliance and you’re thinking back trying to remember how much you used it, and when. Jasmine gives you real-time monitoring and control.”
The company claims the Jasmine Universe devices will save residential customers about $200 per year in energy costs, and predicts equally nice savings for commercial customers: Some 41 percent of small businesses around the world now engage some form of energy-efficiency protocol, according to the firm.
Wanchoo has not invited any investors or other partners into the Jasmine Universe fold and has no plans to. His other company, electronic commerce services provider EC Infosystems, launched in 1995 and now employs more than 100 in Uniondale, providing electronic data interchange and billing services in the deregulated energy market across the United States.
It actually services over 70 percent of the industry, according to Wanchoo, noting EC Infosystems’ breadth not only gave him the basic idea for the Jasmine Universe system, but allowed him to invest “several million” in the new company’s software development and hardware design.
“Mohan is a real entrepreneur,” Germano noted. “Somebody who’s taken a lot of risk.”
The risk is paying off at SUNY Farmingdale, where the hubbs and ploggs are performing well in their beta run. As the company prepares for its big commercial debut, Wanchoo is confident it will hit the marks set when Jasmine Universe became a Start-Up NY company earlier this year, including the creation of 17 new full-time jobs.
“We have already created many jobs at the Advanced Energy Center,” he noted. “Every year, we have in our blueprint to add more and more jobs. We’re right on track in terms of creating jobs this year and next year and so on.”
While the official launch is still months away, Germano said the company is already “responding to business opportunities.” Wanchoo noted it’s difficult to predict what will happen when the product goes live, but said he draws confidence from the “very explosive growth environment in the energy efficiency and energy savings area.”
“It is almost impossible to predict the numbers, the way the industry is going,” he said. “We’ve kind of given up on that, because it’s been so difficult to predict what’s going to happen next.
“But we certainly plan to be successful,” Wanchoo added. “We’re lining up all of our ducks in terms of our marketing plan. We’re establishing goals for ourselves for this year and next year.
“There are a tremendous number of opportunities out there, and we’re going after them.”
What’s It? A holistic approach to energy consumption, focused on sustainability and cost-savings
Brought To You By: Founder and CEO Mohan Wanchoo with help from former LIPA exec Bruce Germano
All In: “Several million,” according to Wanchoo, who cites expensive product development and hardware design costs – and zero outside investments
Status: Now in beta at SUNY Farmingdale; coming soon to residences and commercial spaces near you