Seen on: Foresight Accelerator
Clir is a Vancouver-based software startup that gives renewable energy farms around the world the tools to increase their annual production by an average of 5%. A member of Foresight’s Launch program, Clir recently raised $2.1 million in a seed-stage financing round. Managing Director and CEO, Gareth Brown, tells us about the keys to Clir’s success, the future of renewable energy, and what he’s going to do with all that money…
Congratulations! What are your plans – how will you use the funding?
It’s all about how we can have an even bigger impact, so we’re looking to triple the size of our team and continue to improve our software. In the process, we’re hoping to become the first AI software for renewable energy.
What does Clir do that other software companies don’t?
Our software gives renewable energy farm owners the recommendations they can act on to improve the performance of their turbines and solar panels.
We go beyond a dashboard and key indicators and give them proactive analytics they can use to implement improvements right away – and on a massive scale. Our software tells them immediately how their technologies are performing in all sorts of conditions, such as the panel or turbine alignment with the resource or how they behave during complex operational condition such as icing events. It also allows stakeholders to digitally monitor the technical and financial health of their assets over time.
Renewable energy farmers using our software are seeing up to a 5% increase in annual energy production and a 10x return on their investment. This is good for them, good for energy users, and great for our planet.
Tell us about your experience working with Foresight – what were the biggest learnings that came out of that process?
We worked closely with our Executive in Residence on the financing process, which obviously worked out pretty well for us. It was really helpful working with an accelerator that is supportive and wants us to succeed.
What are your biggest challenges? How will you overcome them?
We’re a software company but at the end of the day, we are all about people. To meet demand and scale our business – our software is being used by 1,000 wind turbines from Hawaii to the UK but we’d like to grow that by ten times, or even a hundred times – we need to build out our team. We’re looking for people who are not only very good at what they do, but who align with our values and who want to have a positive impact on the world. Finding amazing talent who fit with your culture is always a challenge, but it’s also incredibly exciting and gratifying to bring new people on board who immediately make a difference.
What do you think is next for renewable energy in Canada? Globally?
The economic argument for renewable energy is over: it’s cheaper than conventional fuels and it’s here to stay. It’s not only better for the planet, it’s also a cheaper way of getting electrons into the grid – it’s a social justice issue. As the costs of renewable energy storage come down, I expect to see more and more integration of renewable energy onto the electricity grid (or micro-grids).
What have been the three most important factors in your success to date?
Market validation is number one, two and three. A lot of startups in the space are pushing along with their ideas, so knowing the market and the problems we wanted to solve was our biggest advantage. It was also helpful that we had worked on the ground in markets outside of North America, which was a huge benefit in terms of understanding the global markets and how to break in.
What’s next for Clir?
Growth. We’re hoping to scale our operations and our impact, and we’ll continue to help our clients improve their output and manage their risk better. Also, we’re hiring! Aggressively. We’re an inclusive company so we are looking for a broad range of people to join our team. If you have the technical and soft skills that align with our values, get in touch with us: https://clir.eco/careers/