Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you come to be part of the Packetized Energy Team?
I was in the 5-year, Accelerated Master’s Program for Electrical Engineering at UVM, and my advisor for both my undergrad and masters was one of the Packetized Energy founders, Dr. Jeff Frolik. Packetized Energy was founded by three UVM professors, Mad Almassalkhi, Jeff Frolik, and Paul Hines. They are all still dividing their time between UVM and Packetized Energy. So far, I am the only employee and the only one here full-time. I handed in my thesis only last week, but I was tapped by the founders early on to come work for Packetized Energy.
For those of us who don’t know about you guys yet, what is Packetized Energy?
At any point in time, the grid needs to be generating as much electricity as is being used. Grid operators are constantly having to balance the generation of electricity with the amount of electricity that is being used. With solar and wind however, you don’t have as much control over that balance. If you are utilizing solar energy and a cloud passes over, you might have to ramp up diesel generators and literally burn gas to keep up with the demand for electricity. Obviously, that is neither good for the environment nor efficient, so you need to be able to shut off the user’s electricity for a short period of time in a way that they don’t notice it. There are other companies trying to do this right now, but they’re focusing on a more top-down approach where they say “let’s just shut down everyone’s hot water in this neighborhood,” even if users in that neighborhood need the power at that time.
Packetized Energy is about breaking down the delivery of energy into small “packets” of time, so that your household appliances and utilities can talk to the grid via the internet and request energy when they need to operate. We’re trying to help the grid run more efficiently, using more renewables, and be more reliable, while making sure that users always have the energy they need. As awesome as the power grid is for society, it’s also antiquated in a lot of ways, so combining it with cutting-edge IoT technology, we can solve some of our original technology problems. That’s what got me so excited about the company in the first place.
How did Packetized Energy end up in the VCET@UVM Space?
Two of the three professors who founded Packetized Energy have offices upstairs actually, so I think it was fairly natural to expand their base downstairs to VCET@UVM. They also patented the technology for Packetized Energy through the UVM Office for Technology Commercialization, which is a VCET supporter.
Packetized Energy recently won the Green Mountain Power Inspire Space Contest, tell us about that.
We are one of the few companies that will be setting up shop in GMP’s new Inspire Space. It’s awesome that we’ll be getting to interface directly with one of the most progressive power companies in the country. We’ve spent a day or two over there already and it’s really great. It’s invaluable to be able to talk directly with their engineers. We need to work out how to make our technology fit the needs of companies like GMP and demonstrate that it really works. They’re super excited about it and we’re super excited that they’re excited about it!
We are planning on keeping our VCET@UVM office as well however. The environment has worked out really well for us and we like the VCET community. It’s great for our company to be able to have both places available to us.
Green Mountain Power is one of, if not the most, progressive and forward-thinking group power utilities in the country. They’re very open to demonstration projects of new technologies like ours. Twenty years from now, power utilities will not look the same as they do now. GMP is ahead of the game in focusing on these new technologies. So combining the shared GMP office space with the green technologies research going on at UVM makes Vermont an ideal location to base a company like Packetized Energy. Ultimately though, where’s a nicer place to work or live?
We were so excited to see VCET and BTV recognized in the NYT article A ‘Smart’ Green Tech Hub in Vermont Reimagines the Status Quo. As David was quoted in the article, “There’s nothing too big that you can’t dream here. And the snowball is moving faster.” If you haven’t read the article yet, now’s your chance!
On Monday, Marc Bolh and Jason McKerr kindly inaugurated our first Breakfast Panel series with a talk onGrowing Your Startup: Two Perspectives. Marc cooked pancakes and bacon for all attendees, and Sam provided us with more bagels than we could ever hope to eat. Both entrepreneurs gave insightful and experienced advice about scaling your startup to a large group in the Barn Room at VCET@BTV. Many thanks to Jason and Marc!
$1 Billion for Dollar Shave Club: Why Every Company Should Worry
A great NYT article on the ramifications of Dollar Shave Club’s success and the future of similarly disruptive startups.
Amazing Halftime Show
Great reading for healthcare startups and investors.
The Core SaaS Products New Techstars Companies Should Consider
An open letter to new Techstars companies from the DroneSeed team.
Don’t miss the annual FreshTracks Road Pitch starting on August 1st! Whether you are an investor, an entrepreneur, or an interested bystander, you should check out the Road Pitch schedule and mark your calendar for a pitch session near you.