Smart home devices, beyond the data dashboard - a Fluxus Ventures Review

Introduction

Each year more “smart” devices with internet connectivity are introduced in the residential and commercial real estate markets. From the now ubiquitous voice-enabled smart speakers to indoor air quality monitors to video-capable doorbells, consumers have a plethora of options when shopping for new devices. These devices are often released to market with great fanfare and promise to make life easier, more comfortable, and/or more affordable for building occupants. At Fluxus Ventures, we love the application of new technologies within the real estate industry. However, we believe it is important that smart home devices are designed in such a way that they keep consumers interested and happy over the long term. In this review, we aim to describe the type of functionality a smart home device should have so that consumer truly value the device over time and do not forget about the device move on with their lives.

 Figure 1: A variety of smart home devices on the market today.

Figure 1: A variety of smart home devices on the market today.

Data dashboards are frequently forgotten

Over the past 3 years, we have surveyed several different types of smart home devices. Based on our research, we believe that devices that only provide a monitoring capability with a data dashboard are bound to fail in attracting consumers beyond early adopters. As an example, most non early adopter consumers quickly lose interest in data dashboards that show real-time building energy consumption or real-time indoor air quality measurements. This type of data is exciting to look at initially, but most people lose interest and stop checking the dashboard within a few months. This situation is similar to the trends seen with wearable fitness trackers. Fitness tracker users are initially very excited by their physical activity data, but 30-40% of users stop wearing the devices after only 6 months [1]. Over time the excitement of reaching fitness goals fades away and many users simply lose interest and move on.

A smart home device that merely measures data and sends it to a dashboard is likely to be forgotten by the user and end up in a closet within a year. Examples of devices like this include many indoor air quality monitors, traditional wi-fi cameras (without smart software), and many energy consumption monitors. Indoor air quality monitors can provide very interesting data, but they typically do not integrate with other systems in a building (HVAC, windows, doors, etc.) and thus are not capable of autonomously fixing air quality problems. Their primary interaction with building occupants is via a data dashboard or through smartphone notifications, which are often just ignored after the first few months. Traditional wi-fi enabled cameras that stream video to a smartphone or web dashboard also have issues with retaining consumer interest. Lastly, many home/building energy consumption monitors fall into a similar trap. Consumers are often very excited to view real-time electricity consumption for a short period of time. During this initial phase, they are interested to identify minor fixes that reduce energy usage. However, once the quick fixes are completed, consumers are largely just left with a data dashboard that displays similar electricity usage every day. At this point many consumers lose interest and forget the energy monitor is even there.

 Figure 2. Data acquired from an indoor air quality sensor.

Figure 2. Data acquired from an indoor air quality sensor.

Moving beyond the data dashboard to maintain interest over time

It is our belief that in order to keep consumers interested long-term, smart home devices must go beyond just a data dashboard. A great smart device must either automate a task or must uncover valuable and easily actionable insights. To reach the large market beyond early adopters, it is imperative that smart home devices fulfill one of these criterion. As an example, an indoor air quality monitor that can communicate with a building HVAC system (to adjust air flow rates when CO2 levels get high) or send commands to an automated window (to open/close windows depending on temperature or pollutant levels) is much more valuable than a monitor that simply logs and records data. Smart home devices that solve problems are truly valued by consumers and will be frequently used over time. The more often a consumer has a great interaction with their smart home device, the more often that consumer tell their friends and family about the device (driving more sales)!

 Figure 3. The Flair smart vent and puck system.

Figure 3. The Flair smart vent and puck system.

We find that smart home devices that automate tasks are highly valued by consumers. Some examples of great devices in this category include the Google Home and Amazon Alexa smart speakers, FLAIR smart vents and pucks, and the AXIS Gear window system. Smart speakers are valuable for consumers because they have the ability to control other smart home devices (via Alexa skills or Google Actions) in addition to providing entertainment and answering queries. In fact, surveys have shown that smart speaker usage goes up the longer a consumer has owned the speaker, which shows that these devices keep users’ interest over time [2]. Other smart home devices may not directly interact consumers on a daily basis, but can still keep consumers happy and interested by automating a common task. The FLAIR smart vent system automates the whole HVAC system in a home, from the thermostat set point to opening and closing the vents. This system makes the home more comfortable and allows the consumer to avoid temperature differences between rooms. As long as the FLAIR systems continues to work and do its job, it provides continuous value to the consumer in the form of increased home comfort. The AXIS Gear device keeps consumers happy in a similar way. The Gear device is used to automated window blinds/shades so that they automatically open or close at set times. This means consumers no longer need to worry about opening window blinds in the morning or closing blinds for privacy at night

 Figure 4. Diagram showing the components in the Lighthouse AI camera.

Figure 4. Diagram showing the components in the Lighthouse AI camera.

Another type of great smart home device generates valuable and easily actionable insights that consumers can act upon to solve problems. Examples include Ring doorbells, smart security cameras with AI capability (e.g. Lighthouse or The Nest Cam), and advanced energy monitors (e.g. Sense). Consumers remain interested in these devices over time because the notifications lead directly to solving problems rather than simply reminding consumers to check a dashboard. Ring doorbells and security cameras with AI capability are useful because these products automatically alert consumers when something interesting or alarming happens in front of the camera. As a result, the consumer avoids needing to constantly watch the video stream and can simply check the video when someone is at the door, when a package arrives, or when an unknown activity is detected inside the house. Advanced energy monitors with disaggregation technology may also provide value to consumers over the long run. Currently, Sense (and Verdigris for commercial real estate) largely just provides real-time electricity consumption data for buildings, which we said above is not a good enough feature set to keep consumers interested over time. However, these companies are working hard to develop the ability to predict equipment failures and identify important performance issues with HVAC equipment, refrigerators, pumps, etc. If these devices can provide insights that prevent mechanical failures and/or extend equipment lifetimes, the devices will be highly valued by consumers.

Going forward, we are confident that entrepreneurs will continue to develop better and better smart home devices. We believe there will continued innovation in both the technical capabilities of smart home devices and in the way these devices interact with users. Overall we are excited to see which great devices come next!

 

[1] https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3537117, https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattpowell/2015/01/12/sneakernomics-wearable-technology-and-sports-retail/

[2] https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/12/39-million-americans-now-own-a-smart-speaker-report-claims/

Fluxus Ventures Enters Germany

When we arrived in Paris in mid-April, people congratulated us for arriving just in time for good weather. There was an abundance of sun and the temperature varied between 12 – 25 degrees Celsius, absolutely dissimilar to how the weather had been a week before we arrived. Curious, since historically, temperatures have been between 7 – 16 degrees Celsius in April, so we were quite lucky. Jon, one of my partners at Fluxus Ventures, had travelled from the Western Hemisphere, whereas I had travelled from the Eastern Hemisphere; we both met roughly in the middle in Western Europe with Paris as our base. Our main mission was to have our regular partners meeting together with our Managing Partner, who is based in Paris.

The bit of our trip that is more exciting, however, is that we got to go to Germany to meet several promising startups. We have been scouting companies in Germany for a while now, and we found that startups are primarily concentrated in 3 cities: Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. While we did not get the chance to go to Munich on this trip, we got a handful already from visiting startups during our visits to Berlin and Hamburg (and enjoyed the beautiful cities basked in the summer sun while we were at it!). In Berlin, we met with the teams from 1aim and Zaak Technologies. In Hamburg, we met with the teams from Vilisto and Breeze Technologies.

1aim is a startup that offers a new building access technology intended to solve the problem of access in this 21st century world. The core of the problem is an increasing pressure on traditional access management to keep up with a world of increased mobility and shared spaces. On the other hand, current “modern” access methods are inadequate for the task at hand. PIN and RFID cards are hard to manage and less secure; Bluetooth is tedious to use and less secure; whilst NFC is not ubiquitous. 1aim has managed to solve this problem by creating a technology that they call “Lightaccess” which allows any smartphone with a colour display and connection to the internet to become a key to unlock 1aim’s lock. We got to capture how the key and lock works during the visit which you can see in the video below.

One of our partners, Jon Bartelt, tested out 1aim's novel lock solution during our visit to Berlin last April 2018.

The second company in Berlin we visited was Zaak Technologies. Zaak is a company founded by Dr. Abbas Khan that aims to bring to the market an eco-friendly alternative to sand, called LyporsTM, which is produced from fly ash. Fly ash is a waste product of coal combustion consisting of fine particles ejected out of the combustion chamber along with other exhaust gases. Currently, only 50-60% of fly ash produced in Europe and the US is re-used in construction applications.[1],[2]

Lypors is up to 50% lighter than normal sand, allowing for reduced deadweight of buildings. Its use in concrete also increases the thermal insulation characteristics of said concrete by 2x, reducing building heating and cooling costs. Other benefits include higher durability and increased workability (due to consistency of shape and size compared to normal sand).

After concluding the day in Berlin, we went to Hamburg to meet the team from Vilisto and Breeze. Both were based in the same building, the Tutech Innovation & Startup Campus at Harburger Schloßstraße 6-12, 21079 Hamburg, which made the trip logistically easy.

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Vilisto makes smart radiator controllers for office use. Its main pitch is that heating accounts for the largest energy cost in office buildings, yet the energy used for heating is wasted 80% of the time because spaces are often heated while unoccupied. Its smart radiator controller, called Ovis, promises to significantly reduce that waste by combining data (temperature, occupancy, etc) gathered from its sensors with weather data to intelligently control heating.

The last company we visited was Breeze Technologies. Breeze specialises in air quality sensing for indoor and outdoor settings. The company is currently iterating its sensor devices, constantly improving them with each accumulated experience. Hardware aside, Breeze is also working on improving its software with machine learning and big data to allow its solution to provide meaningful and actionable insights.

Air quality is an important yet often neglected aspect of a building. People operate under the assumption that the HVAC system installed in a building will ensure a high indoor air quality, an assumption that is often inadequate. Take CO2 for instance; at best some HVAC systems measure CO2 levels at a system level and use the data to slightly adjust ventilation rates. However, more granular control is needed as people are not distributed evenly throughout a building—some spaces will require more air flow than others.

The economic benefit is also significant as multiple researches have linked good air quality with improved productivity. Productivity matters because labour costs are much higher than rent or energy costs in developed economies and are gaining significance in less developed economies. Indeed, in one of its reports, Jones Lang Lasalle describes a 3-30-300 rule of thumb, which states that only USD 3 psqft p.a. is spent on energy, USD 30 psqft p.a. is spent on rent vs. USD 300 psqft p.a. is spent on human capital.[3]

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The visit to Breeze Technologies concluded our brief-yet-meaningful two days in Germany. Surely, being one of the technology centres in Europe, there are many more interesting property tech (proptech) startups in Germany to be explored. Jon and I hope to return to get to know (and invest in) more hardcore technology startups solving longstanding real estate problems. And, if possible, to enjoy some delicious Wiener Schnitzels under the warm sun while we are at it.

 

[1] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2011/08/110815-safer-ways-to-reycle-fly-ash-from-coal/

[2] www.flyash.info/2011/007-feuerborn-2011.pdf

[3] http://www.us.jll.com/united-states/en-us/services/corporates/consulting/reduce-real-estate-costs

Topic Discussion: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

Introduction

Broadly defined, HVAC systems are responsible for providing thermal comfort and high-quality air supply within indoor spaces. To maintain thermal comfort, equipment such as furnaces or boilers are used for heating and air conditioners or chilled water systems are used for cooling. To ensure high-quality air supply, mechanical ventilation systems are used to introduce fresh air and to move air throughout a building’s interior. HVAC systems in residential or small commercial buildings are commonly controlled via thermostats, while systems in large buildings are controlled by facilities managers via building management systems. The type of HVAC system installed in a building depends on a variety of factors including the building budget and location, but the goal of all HVAC systems is the same: ensure that building occupants are comfortable and healthy. When operating properly, an HVAC system should not require much user input and should be hardly noticed by building occupants.

The reliability and performance of HVAC systems is exceedingly important for both commercial and residential real estate for several reasons. First, occupants are very sensitive to the environment inside a building, and occupant health, mood, and productivity can be significantly altered by changes in air quality and/or temperature. Secondly, the HVAC system is typically the largest energy consumer in both commercial and residential buildings. HVAC systems account for roughly 40% of the energy consumed by buildings each year (according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration), and the utility bills associated with these systems can be quite large. Finally, HVAC outages and repairs can be extremely costly both in terms of equipment and repair costs and in terms of occupant discomfort or loss of productivity during extended outages.

The breadth of technologies within the HVAC space is quite large. For the purposes of this discussion we aim to focus on new technology innovations—ones that we find directly in the market—that make HVAC systems more efficient (in terms of energy usage), easier to control or program, less expensive to repair or install, or better at providing thermal comfort and/or high air quality. We first will outline many of the major issues and flaws that plague commercial and residential HVAC systems. Then, we will describe the impact of these issues and will highlight some technologies and companies that are addressing said issues.

Firms can save energy while improving thermal comfort

  Figure 1 Nest smart thermostat

Figure 1 Nest smart thermostat

Based on our research and discussions with players in the real estate industry, the most common problem with today's HVAC systems is an inability to provide continuous thermal comfort due to over/under cooling. Whether in office buildings, malls, or at home, occupants often encounter rooms that are too cold or too hot causing reduced levels of comfort. The problem can be divided into several scenarios: (a) granularity of control, i.e. we want different rooms/zones to have different temperature setpoints, (b) scheduling, i.e. a room should be 24 degrees centigrade during the day and 30 degrees at night, and (c) thermal response, i.e. meeting room becomes hot as more people gather for the meeting. Providing thermal comfort as and when needed (preventing under/over cooling) is important for occupants for obvious reasons, but it is also important for building owners and tenants because it saves energy and reduces the number of occupant complaints that must be addressed.

  Figure 2 Flair smart vent

Figure 2 Flair smart vent

For residentials with centralised cooling (common in the US), we have smart thermostats from companies like Nest and Ecobee. The advantage of this new generation of thermostats, apart from being programmable, is the capability to sense the presence of occupants in the building and learn about the occupant's temperature preferences. However, solutions for residentials with centralised cooling do not stop at thermostats. Companies such as Flair, Keen Home, and Ecovent produce smart vents, which automatically open and close to fine tune air flow on a room-by-room basis. These smart vents are installed in place of traditional vents/registers and work in conjunction with the smart thermostats mentioned above.

A solution for residentials with window or mini split air-conditioners also exists in the form of internet-connected smart remote-control replacements. These smart devices control AC units by mimicking the signals sent by the remote-controls that come with the units, usually through infrared. The smart devices are also typically equipped with various sensors (temperature, humidity, occupancy), providing additional input data for the temperature control algorithms. This additional input data coupled with advanced data processing allows the AC units to work more efficiently and provide an even temperature profile throughout the course of a full day. Companies in this space include Ambi Labs, Sensibo, Tado, and Flair.

  Figure 3 Ambi Labs controller

Figure 3 Ambi Labs controller

Thermal comfort innovations in the commercial space revolve around using big data, machine learning, and feeding occupancy data into control algorithms to fine-tune HVAC settings for comfort and energy savings. Example of companies that use big data and algorithms to better control HVAC systems are BuildingIQ and 75F. On the other hand, companies like Enlighted and Envairo use occupancy data and other data gained from sensors to deliver better thermal comfort and improve indoor air quality. A common goal of these companies is to reduce the number of temperature related complaints from building occupants and to save energy by reducing overcooling.

Indoor air quality will soon become a major selling point

The other primary function of a HVAC system is to maintain high-quality air supply within buildings. Several studies have shown that the quality of the air you breathe while indoors varies significantly from building to building and can have significant effects on health and productivity. The most common contaminants found in conditioned indoor air are small particles (PM2.5), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). PM2.5 particles are particularly unhealthy because extended exposure to them has been linked to higher levels of cardiovascular disease, increased risk of respiratory issues and asthma, and worsening lung function. High levels of VOCs and CO2 in indoor air are less acutely dangerous, but these contaminants have been shown to significantly decrease worker productivity and increase negative symptoms such as allergies and headaches.

From the point of view of a building occupant, poor air quality causes discomfort and can make it difficult to focus and work—which we experienced first-hand in our office in Paris. Occupants may end up spending less time in the office and may feel groggy or tired while in the office. In buildings with very bad air quality, occupants may also begin to feel sick and have frequent headaches. This type of situation can be very frustrating for occupants because they often are not able to control or modify the HVAC system in the building and may not know why they feel sick. For example, an employee in a large office building is not able to log into the building management system, check the CO2 level in the office, and modify the ventilation rate in a building to fix a problem. The employee is only able to log a complaint with the facilities manager when air quality seems poor.

Facilities managers, tenants, or building owners should also be incentivized to maintain high air quality. Because employee productivity decreases when indoor CO2 levels are elevated, employers should choose a workplace with a HVAC system that provides good air quality to have a highly productive workforce. Furthermore, maintaining a high air quality level improves building occupant comfort levels and reduces the number of air quality related complaints that facility managers must address.

Poor indoor air quality can arise due to several different causes including lack of ventilation, improper placement of a fresh air intake, poor air filter maintenance, or chemical emission from new furniture or carpet. Other issues can arise due to faulty HVAC equipment or improper HVAC system settings. Because most HVAC systems (especially in the US) do not measure indicators of indoor air quality, these problems are not proactively identified and are typically only fixed after many occupants log complaints. At best, some HVAC systems measure CO2 levels at a system level (1 sensor per building) and use the data to slightly adjust ventilation rates (when CO2 levels are high, more fresh air needs to be brought in). However, there are few, if any, systems that measure indoor air quality at several different points throughout a building. This means that many buildings with air quality problems are not even aware of the issues!

Fortunately, due to the decreasing cost of internet-connected sensors, several start-up companies are now developing systems that can measure indoor air quality at a room-by-room level. With these systems, air quality issues can be proactively identified, and the HVAC system can resolve issues before occupants begin to feel uncomfortable. Envairo is a company which makes inexpensive CO2 sensors and advanced HVAC control algorithms that ensure high quality air is supplied to all the rooms within a building. As an example, an Envairo CO2 sensor in a crowded meeting room can detect rising CO2 levels before they become an issue and can tell the HVAC system to increase the supply of fresh air to the room. Breeze Technologies is a startup that has developed a multi-sensor device that measures several air quality indicators in real-time and can identify problems quickly. A Breeze device can detect if a running car is parked near a building’s fresh air intake and can tell the HVAC system to temporarily stop bringing in the unhealthy outside air. These systems are inexpensive and can improve both worker comfort and productivity.

Untapped market potential for HVAC innovations

In one of its report, Jones Lang Lasalle describes a 3-30-300 rule of thumb, which states that only USD 3 psqft p.a. is spent on energy while USD 30 psqft p.a. is spent on rent and USD 300 psqft p.a. is spent on human capital.[1] Instead of focusing on the actual numbers, we should focus on the multiplier. A 10% savings in energy is meagre compared to a 10% savings in rental and even less compared to a 10% savings in labour cost.

A simulation study by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the US Department of Energy in 2011 states that adding advanced controls and feeding demand (occupancy) data to HVAC systems can reduce energy consumption and associated costs by 20-40%.[2] The obvious way to get the savings is by first installing a HVAC Building Management System (BMS) and giving building managers the capability to do remote management and automation. However, an Energy Information Administration (EIA) survey in 2012 states that the percentage of small buildings (under 1,000 sqm) and mid-sized buildings (between 1,000 sqm and 10,000 sqm) equipped with HVAC Building Management System was 8% and 25%, respectively, while the percentage for large buildings was 71%. We suspect that this low penetration in small and mid-sized buildings is due to the significant fixed cost—costs that do not scale with size and are significant for small and mid-sized buildings, and less so for large buildings—of installing traditional BMS systems, hindering HVAC BMS adoption despite potential long-term savings.

One way a HVAC system can contribute to increased productivity from human capital is by improving indoor air quality (as discussed previously). It is an increasingly popular topic, so much so that in 2017 researchers from Harvard did an experiment on how indoor air quality affects decision-making performance.[3] The researchers estimated that "productivity benefits from doubling the ventilation rates are $6,500 per person per year" and that "the cost of doubling ventilation rates would be less than $40 per person per year". Like energy savings, the case for increased productivity from better air quality is convincing, yet obstacles remain. The biggest obstacle is the misalignment of incentives in which building managers are often incentivised to keep costs low and system uptime high, while productivity gains from improving ventilation rates and indoor air quality is enjoyed by tenants.

To decrease the cost of rent, there are a number of firms tackling the space optimisation problem. Studies have estimated that up to 40% of office space is underutilized, which means many businesses could rent smaller spaces. There are both early and late stage ventures working in this area, and some firms specialise in sensors while others specialise in data aggregation and processing. One very early stage venture we encountered, Envairo, uses CO2 sensor data to determine occupancy levels in addition to using the data to get energy savings from HVAC systems and to improve indoor air quality. Envairo can also use the data for space-use analytics, allowing tenants to analyse hot and cold spots in their space and do optimisations. Anecdotally, unlike energy savings and indoor air quality, one of the difficulties faced by firms selling their products in this space is the disconnect between spending money on data gathering activities and using the data to get returns from optimised space. Despite that, a few firms such as RetailNext and Enlighted have managed to raise hundreds of millions of dollars selling solutions for space-use and indoor analytics. Enlighted started their business by bringing energy-saving lighting control systems and has now ventured into controlling HVAC systems and providing space-use analytics, leveraging occupancy data gathered by the smart sensors in their lighting system.

Considering this 3-30-300 guidance, we suspect that the focus of innovations in the HVAC space will move away from the smaller and more saturated energy market to the larger and greener pastures of space optimisations and labour productivity improvements. However, it seems that the way to unlock these markets is by providing solutions with demonstrable and more immediate benefits (i.e. energy savings) and expanding from there.

[1] http://www.us.jll.com/united-states/en-us/services/corporates/consulting/reduce-real-estate-costs

[2] https://www.pnnl.gov/main/publications/external/technical_reports/PNNL-20955.pdf

[3] https://hbr.org/2017/03/research-stale-office-air-is-making-you-less-productive

 

Fluxus Ventures attends Co-Liv! conference organized by Impact Hub SF

Fluxus Ventures Partners John van Oost and Jon Bartelt recently attended Co-Liv!, a conference on affordable housing and co-living ecosystems. The conference, which was held in San Francisco from December 7-9th, was one of the first global gatherings dedicated to the emerging topic of co-living. 

Co-living can be broadly defined as any shared housing situation designed to encourage community and collaboration. Compared to a normal apartment, a co-living space is likely to have more occupants per square foot, smaller bedrooms or private spaces, and larger communal spaces. It is also common for co-living occupants to organize events and to share resources and responsibilities. The co-living concept is catching on not only because fitting more occupants within a rental has the potential to decrease rent, but also because people living in cities are increasingly lonely and looking for genuine friendship and community.

As a leader in real estate innovation, Fluxus Ventures has been interested in co-living concepts for the past two years. Our first investment is this space was a seed investment in Urban Campus in 2016. We strongly believe that tenants increasingly value community, functionality, and design and are becoming less concerned about overall square footage and apartment building size. Many presenters at the conference supported this view and stated that tenants desire to be part of a vibrant community and to live in close proximity to friends. We believe this trend has the potential to disrupt the real estate market, which has traditionally focused on building large apartment complexes that have little to no communal space and actually aim to increase privacy at the expense of community.

Many presenters at the conference told amazing stories about how they built co-living companies from the ground up. We heard from the founders of Open Door, Ollie, The Collective, and The Camp. Each of these founders has put their own touch on the co-living experience, and they were excited to share their experiences. It is clear that the concept of co-living is catching on given that each of these companies is growing quickly! We also heard from PUREHOUSE LAB and the founders of Qwerky, who are exploring how new technologies can be used to elevate the co-living experience. Fluxus believes that new technologies will be extremely useful for co-living operators since many issues surrounding building access, shared payments, and communication can be difficult to manage with current systems.

John van Oost spoke at the conference during a panel discussion about the risks and opportunities of financing co-living ventures. He also contributed to a panel discussion on the future of co-living. John spoke about his previous experiences investing in real estate and about his more recent investments as a venture capitalist at Fluxus Ventures. He also talked about Urban Campus and some of the financing challenges and successes they have had.

Overall the Co-Liv! conference was an amazing learning opportunity, and Fluxus Ventures was happy to be a part of it! It is clearer than ever that the market for co-living is growing and that renters want to live in well-designed communal spaces. Fluxus will continue to learn about co-living and hopes to find and invest in new companies that are working in the space!

Fluxus Ventures announces investment into disruptive smart building technology company

Fluxus Ventures announces investment into disruptive smart building technology company

 Fluxus Ventures has made an investment into enModus, a UK-based smart building technology company. enModus will use this investment, along with its recently raised £3m Series A, to fuel deployment of its innovative powerline communication technology. Fluxus is excited to support enModus going forward and will work alongside the enModus team as it develops its initial customer base. enModus has been backed by intu, a British REIT that owns some of the most popular shopping centers in the UK and Spain.

Judging for the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition 2017 pt. 2

Judging for the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition 2017 pt. 2

Carrying on from part 1 of this write-up (here), I attended the grand finals of the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition in Singapore on 14 September 2017. The awards gala was held at the Fairmont and I was seated at table 1 alongside other participants and judges. Among all the fine gentlemen I sat with (pictured below), I should point out the ones wearing matching suits and ties for they were the winner of this competition—receiving a cash prize of SGD 100,000 (along with other in-kind and investment prizes).

Real estate investors: evolve or disappear

Real estate investors: evolve or disappear

For most real estate investors, the future looks increasingly uncertain. Record-low interest rates have distorted asset values. A welcome economic rebound hides mid-term structural challenges that have not disappeared (think about pensions and employee productivity to name but two). Populism is on the rise. Even buildings seem to age faster than ever. And the list goes on.

Judging for the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition 2017 pt. 1

Judging for the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition 2017 pt. 1

The Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition is a prestigious global competition organised by Singapore Management University. Started in 2001, the competition accepts business plan submissions from students all over the world, including top-tier universities such as MIT, Cambridge, and Tsinghua. In 2017, the competition’s theme is focused on Smart Cities, with sub-themes that include: Health, Living, Mobility and Services.

Fluxus Ventures Backs Game Changing Data Analytics Company

(Jul 24, 2017) – Fluxus Ventures is excited to announce an investment into urbanData Analytics (uDA), a Madrid based data analytics company. This investment reiterates our belief that diverse data sources and advanced data science techniques can be used to infer insights about the Real Estate market.

uDA has developed a much needed big data management tool for the Real Estate industry. They structure data from over 300 data sets and build visualisation tools that make it easy for real estate professionals to understand and analyse large quantities of complex data. In addition, they use advanced statistical models to find valuable hidden anomalies and patterns within the data and use machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict changes in the Real Estate market.

“We are delighted about the Fluxus Ventures capital inflow. Certainly, their experience and support will be a key element in the uDA internationalization challenge” said Carlos Olmos & Alberto Santos, Directors and co-founders of uDA. Jon Bartelt, a partner at Fluxus, added, “We look forward to working with the talented team at uDA because we believe uDA’s software platform will be a valued asset for professional real estate investors. uDA's product allows investors to quickly answer complex questions using a simple web-based platform.”

For more information, please visit http://www.urbandataanalytics.com/.

 

About Fluxus Ventures

Fluxus Ventures is a global investment partnership that backs innovators with demonstrable engineering solutions for smarter cities and urban infrastructure. Fluxus Ventures looks for breakthrough scientific advances and ingenious technologies in the fields of energy systems, connected buildings, cost-effective properties, and urban wellbeing.

Fluxus Ventures enables real estate and infrastructure operators, as well as corporate investors, to take leadership in technology innovation and sustainability, and allows them to access promising ventures that can enhance their existing portfolios and/or support entirely new economic models.

For more information, please visit www.fluxusventures.com.

 

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