Digamma.ai CEO Q&A Series: Mark Chung of Verdigris

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Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
Verdigris

Digamma.ai CEO Q&A Series: Interview with Mark Chung, CEO and Co-Founder at Verdigris.

1. Verdigris provides real-time energy intelligence for facilities managers, enabling them to react faster with device-level monitoring and real-time alerts. What are the implications of your company’s technology on the building industry and to a larger extent, the environment?

We target mission-critical facilities like distribution centers, factories, and even hotels because they are sources of major power consumption and often struggle to mitigate their energy usage. By providing them with a system that allows the building to communicate with its facilities management, it transforms the way we conceptualize buildings. In our paradigm, you have buildings taking care of people instead of people taking care of buildings. The implications of our technology for the future of the building industry, and for the environment as a whole, is one of sustainability through a better understanding of how and when a building consumes electricity. We have created a system that drives down utility costs by reducing energy consumption and avoids operational costs of equipment failures. This technology will give the building industry a powerful tool to take a step in the right direction, one that safeguards our environment.

2. What led you to create Verdigris?

A couple of years ago, I went on a vacation for about a month and came home to find a massive utility bill. When I started digging to figure out why the bill was so expensive and where exactly the charges were coming from, I noticed it was nearly impossible to find out. That’s where the idea came from. We had a problem and we needed to figure out a way to solve it. Verdigris developed out of the need to understand exactly how buildings are using energy – and how to transition toward being more energy efficient. It turns out that what we built is a new kind connective tissue for buildings that can enable smart communities, smart cities, and ultimately a smart planet.

3. Your technology combines proprietary hardware sensors, machine learning, and software to learn the energy patterns of a building.  How has this particular combination of IoT and artificial intelligence helped make buildings smarter while reducing overall energy consumption and costs?

Essentially, what we did was design these low-profile current transformers that were able to clamp on to different circuits in a main power panel, and we found that each of those circuits tell a different story.  Yes, we are metering all of the energy coming out of a building, but in doing so, we learn the different ways in which energy is consumed. Every single device that you plug in on a day-to-day basis consumes energy differently. How a blow-dryer consumes 100 watts is going to be completely different then a phone charger. What our IoT and AI platform does, is give insight to the unique ways in which energy is withdrawn and those minute differences in how it is consumed. The AI understands how to sift and interpret through massive amounts of information within seconds; something that would take us weeks, if not months to do. By integrating these two platforms, we have found a way to understand energy consumption and maximize energy efficiency.

4. What are some of the biggest challenges — both business and technical — you and your team have faced over the years and how have you addressed them?

My experience at startups and larger organizations did not prepare me for one of our biggest challenges at Verdigris – recruiting and hiring team members who are truly a fit. In the past, I’ve hired people based on technical skills or background, but what’s different here is that I’ve learned to adjust to hiring people based on their alignment with a very specific set of cultural values. Alignment with our mission is the best indicator of how well a person will fit with the rest of the team, and many skills can be trained and learned when the employee has a solid foundation in our values.

5. How do you see Verdigris growing over the next few years?

Our ultimate goal is to advance the state of the AI platform to drive down the costs of our solution. The idea is to be able to bring this technology to as many facilities as we can and transform the building industry as a whole. We see the AI becoming a connective layer and living entity that can manage the buildings they are in. It would be a huge benefit for buildings across the world to be able to internally check system appliances, monitor energy usage, and alert when those systems are failing. Our vision is creating a sustainable planet and Verdigris is getting one step closer to doing that every day.

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