Could you tell us a bit about what CopperTree Analytics does? Please give a brief description of your company.
CopperTree Analytics delivers a comprehensive AI building analytics solution, consisting of an Energy Information System (EIS) and a Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD) platform with integrated system performance auditing. Our mission is to ensure that smart buildings reach their full potential. We take your building’s data and translate it into actionable information, so you can take greater control of your building. CopperTree Analytics can help you reach targeted maintenance goals, reduce energy consumption and make better decisions about the operation of your building.
Could you describe your entrepreneurial journey so far?
We started as a dream or thought in the minds of our 2 founders, who were the founders also of very successful building automation system and service companies already working in the smart building industry. The concept was “could we use software and cloud computing to simplify and improve how buildings are serviced, operated and perform”. From there the journey started as a brand new company set up to bring this dream to life.
With humble beginnings in 2012, and no paying clients, the company was incorporated in 2012 and has since added over 2,500 paying client buildings to our portfolio across 4 continents. The early days were exciting and the solution was very novel. Most clients had not heard of building analytics, and the cloud was a relatively new concept that most clients were just starting to embrace.
Fast forward to today and these technologies are much more widely adopted. You could argue our launch was a bit “early” given the state of technology and client adoption of cloud and IoT solutions. We often found ourselves educating clients and partners who were not early adopters about the potential of our technology, but finding they were not yet ready to fully dive in. That being said, this extra time in the market gave us the ability to hone our craft, develop our tools, and deploy our solution widely, making us one of the marquee solutions in our part of the smart building industry with a large client base and good brand recognition for such a small company.
We currently employ ~40 employees and have commercial partnerships with many large multinational companies. Our goal is to scale further and reach even more buildings to help with the battle against climate change.
Why did you apply to the Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka program?
We were approached by the program as we had worked with Rainmaking previously in Singapore, and the fit seemed good for the theme of the program. We are very interested in the Japanese market since we know our part of the market is under-served and a few years “behind” North America, so it’s a good opportunity to gauge the actual potential of the market and decide whether we want to further invest in the Japanese market.
How is CopperTree Analytics working to build smart cities/smart living?
Well not only are we helping many of our clients who have large campuses or a portfolio of distributed clients with multi-building portfolios of their own, but we are also involved in cutting-edge research into smart building technologies for “grid-adaptive” approaches to energy and resource usage. These are being applied at a “grid” or “smart campus/city” level to assist even more with the complex decision-making and sustainability goals of tomorrow’s smart campuses and cities.
How have you found the experience of going through the program? Are there any challenges in collaboration with large companies?
There are certainly challenges associated to working with large corporate clients and, on top of that, the added complexity of working in a different language and cultural environment, especially in the times of COVID-19 and the inability to travel for in-person interaction. All-in-all the experience has been a good one, and Rainmaking/Scale Osaka provided excellent organization and support to us in the PoC project.
What was the most significant lesson learned during the program?
Probably that the Japanese market is in the early stages of adopting technologies like ours, harkening back to 5-10 years ago as we started our journey. It is clear a significant investment and market education would be necessary to fully maximize an investment in the market there. The obvious path to success would involve identifying a partner organization to go to market with in Japan to help accelerate the required growth to make the market a good investment for CopperTree.
What are you looking for to make your next steps?
Ideally we would expand the PoC with our partner there to do a full project, without some of the incumbrances we had relating to the ongoing acquisition of data, etc. while simultaneously looking for a good local strategic Japanese partner organization to help us expand our offering in Japan by becoming a distributor or value-added reseller.