Comfy, formerly known as Building Robotics, Inc., recently raised an impressive $12 million in Series B funding for an app that will save energy. The hope is that this innovative app will stop the thermostat war in office buildings once and for all.
This building automation software is designed to help companies save energy on air conditioning while providing employees with a comfortable working environment. At the same time, this app will gather data contributed by employees regarding both occupancy and use of workspace.
The investment was led by Emergence Capital and joined by Microsoft Ventures and CBRE, both real estate services companies. Lindsay Baker, president of Comfy, said allowing employees to make minor adjustments to the temperature in their cubical area actually improves happiness and productivity. Working in an uncomfortable temperature actually slows people down, causes distractions, increases hunger, and has a direct impact on hormones.
Baker explained that this app is quite easy to use. Employees simply download the app on their cellphone, followed by requesting either cool or warm air in the zone where they work. The app also captures data provided by employees, which is then combined with usage patterns and other useful data. Ultimately, the temperature of every zone within an office building is based on the routine preferences of the employees.
This startup was met with stiff competition from businesses that provide building automation services. This included large energy management tech vendors, such as United Technologies, Honeywell International, and Johnson Controls, along with tech startups, such as BuildingIQ and SCIEnergy. Therefore, being awarded $12 million in Series B funding is quite an achievement.
Of course, there are a few things that set Comfy apart from others. For one thing, this mobile app is occupant facing. In other words, apps and analytics are typically built for building managers, or companies that sell managers hardware or sensors, which are then installed and distributed throughout an office space for gathering data about usage. However, there is no employee feedback. The feedback on preferred temperature is what makes the Comfy app unique.
For using the app, clients are charged according to office square footage. However, the initial installation of the system is free. Founder and General Partner of Emergence Capital Brian Jacobs stated that his firm is backing this endeavor due to it being employee-friendly and cloud-based. He said that by working as an early investor for Salesforce, Yammer, and others, he quickly learned the value of employee input. When employees are comfortable and actually use the things that a company invests in, there is a noted return on investment.
The funding will be used for hiring, which is expected to increase full-time employees from 30 to 60 sometime in 2017. Additional plans include the development of new functionality and features that can serve clients in a wide range of industries. For example, the needs of employees working in hotels are different from what employees in healthcare require, so that will be taken into consideration.