Next World Capital Leads FirstFuel’s $23M Series C
If you’re reading this while sitting in an office building, you probably take for granted that the electricity powering the lights, air conditioning, elevators, computers, and every other modern convenience is consistent and reliable. You almost certainly don’t think about how the utility providing that power is managing performance and improving their service, unless something isn’t performing. Suddenly you realize how little your utility knows about what’s going on inside your building, which is likely paying millions of dollars per year in electricity bills. How can they monitor performance in real-time and use that data to help your company navigate increasingly complex energy decisions?
Now imagine that you work at that utility, and the customers you used to take for granted are up for grabs because your market has been deregulated and new entrants are swooping in. How can you quickly understand your customers’ needs to retain and and upsell them?
Today I’m very excited to announce Next World Capital’s investment in FirstFuel Software, which helps both commercial electricity customers and the energy providers who serve them. Over the past several years, we’ve invested in the top companies riding the waves of SaaS, Big Data, and Analytics. FirstFuel represents one of the next massive waves in enterprise software: applying these three enabling technologies to solve the pain points for a specific industry, in this case the $2.2T global electric energy industry, which is going through a fundamental transformation. Most regulated utilities are being mandated to rollout solutions like FirstFuel, and deregulated utilities are seeking out solutions like FirstFuel to compete for and retain customers in their new competitive environment.
FirstFuel is also one of the first SaaS companies to powerfully leverage the Internet of Things. FirstFuel can draw data from the network of hundreds of millions of smart electricity meters that has already been rolled out across North American and Europe. By combining this data with other data streams and their proprietary models for commercial buildings, FirstFuel can provide a detailed energy audit completely offsite, using only software, in contrast to today’s common practice of in-person audits which are labor and cost intensive.
Here’s why we invested:
The first data-driven customer engagement platform for a massive industry. Using FirstFuel, utilities and energy services companies can for the first time build a detailed customer profile for their commercial end users, their largest and most valuable consumers. This data is exactly what is needed to build a deeper customer relationship. FirstFuel’s solution also provides a customer engagement platform which leverages data-driven insights to upsell dditional services and improve customer satisfaction.
A trusted global leader. FirstFuel has solved hard technical problems and is already the leading solution in the US, and is rapidly expanding into Europe, where there is already sweeping dregulation that is driving utilities to buy the FirstFuel solution. FirstFuel can decipher how electricity is used, down to the particular activities and machinery in the building, creating a detailed analysis and recommendations for equipment and operational changes that save significant dollars. FirstFuel is also the only company in its field whose analytics have been verified by five independent third party studies.
Real results, and everyone wins. With FirstFuel, utilities can quickly scan thousands of buildings across their portfolio without going on-site, generating multiple leads for additional services, which is fast becoming the principal revenue driver in deregulated markets. From just one of their products, FirstAdvisor, existing FirstFuel customers have already identified $400M in cost reductions. In FirstFuel, we also saw an opportunity to partner with a company that will make a positive impact not only for energy providers and individual businesses, but also on the environment and how the world manages some of our most precious energy resources, which has further positive impact on the dynamics of our global community.
A partnership with the A-Team. Building the winning SaaS solution for a massive and complex industry requires a very special team, and this is what we saw at FirstFuel. They’ve brought together a unique interdisciplinary team: Swapnil Shah, an experienced enterprise SaaS CEO, Ken Kolkebeck, a building science domain expert who has literally walked the halls performing audits and building energy improvements for over 30 years, and Badri Raghavan, who has built data science systems to solve enterprise-scale problems. Together with their sales, marketing, and regulatory affairs executives, we saw FirstFuel as the leading team attacking this market opportunity. As their partner, Next World Capital brings our expansion stage expertise, which complements early-stage investors by focusing on adding value in the rapid growth of sales, marketing, business development and international expansion. Next World Capital’s unique European Expansion Platform also provides FirstFuel with strategic resources to further build out their team and accelerate sales in the European markets.
I’m excited to be joining FirstFuel’s board of directors, and I look forward to helping Swapnil and his team further capture this massive global market.