Friday, November 2, 2012
How Enervee Is Making Shopping For Products Energy Smart, with Matthias Kurwig
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Are you someone who'd like to save money, energy, and maybe the environment while shopping for your new television, appliance, or other electronic product? If so, how do you figure out what the better choice is when you're making those purchase decisions? In a bid to try to make it easier for consumers to figure that out, Enervee (www.enervee.com) recently rolled out a new tool to provide an "Enervee Score" to help rate products on their energy efficiency and cost--and is now trying to get manufacturers, retailers, and others to adopt its tool. We spoke with CEO and founder Matthias Kurwig on the idea behind the startup, and how he's applying his experience as COO of Neo@Ogilvy to his new Santa Monica startup.
What is Enervee?
Matthias Kurwig: Enervee is the world's first, personal energy efficiency scoring platform. What we do, is we score the energy efficiency of a product, relative to all other products in the same category, with a simple, numeric scored called the Enervee score. That is scored between zero and 100, the best. It gives you a daily, updated perspective of how energy efficient a product is compared to all other consumer electronics, computers, home appliances, and other categories. It's a data business which runs through what the offerings are in the market, identifies those offers and products that are in the market today, and uses lots of data sources to identify the energy consumption of those products. We are using algorithms to identify the products that are relatively energy efficient.
Where did the idea come from?
Matthias Kurwig: I started this with my founding partner, Don Epperson. About two and a half, three years ago we were both in situation where we wanted to get new home appliances, because we were re-doing our kitchens and stuff like that. We were looking at refrigerators and dishwashers, and wanted to understand what the energy costs for one product versus another. However, we found that was really no information available out there. There's Energy Star, which is a great system and certification, which tells if products meet certain standards, but it doesn't tell you exactly what energy consumption and what your personal energy cost is for a product. There is also something similar, the Energy Guide label, which is done by the FTC. It's a little more telling for some categories, and shows energy costs, but they're usually pretty outdated. For areas like home electronics, it's actually a significant decision when buying those products, with some products which can cost you over $100 more in a year from electricity costs. Big screen TVs and refrigerators can cost you thousands of dollars over the life of those products. It's funny that no one provides this kind of information. You have to research it, and there's tons of complexity involved in identifying these kind of things. We thought it was an interesting idea to provide that data, not only thinking of it as a destination site, but as a distributed platform, which will enable merchant sites or manufacturers to provide better information on the energy cost of individual products.
There's a vast amount of consumer electronics and appliances out there, how do you figure out this information and these this for all of those?
Matthias Kurwig: It's really more of a data source integration project, as we're not testing those products ourselves. Our starting point is that we're integrated with a number of shopping APIs, such as from Best Buy, Amazon, and what have you, and they have product feeds in all of those categories. We have built a database that picks up the energy consumption profiles from data sources like Energy Star, the FTC, and manufacturer data sources, along with other commercial APIs, and even spreadsheets, which we integrate. We now have energy consumption information for thousands of products. We match that on a daily basis, in real time, to what you are looking at shopping, product, and offer feeds, and integrate that data. The third element, which is what we call our Eco view. We have a database, based on zip code, which we have utility costs such as electrify rates from utility providers, along with how carbon intensive those power plants are. A user puts in their zipcode, and we can tell them exactly what a specific product will cost them, and what carbon emissions will be and the equivalent of what that would be in gallons of gas, which makes it more meaningful.
What's your background and what were you doing before?
Matthias Kurwig: I've been in online marketing since it started, and have always been involved in a mixture of technology. I started a digital marketing agency in Europe, and as you might hear, I was from Germany originally. We grew to a number of offices in Europe, and I ended up selling that agency to Ogilvy Group in 2004. I joined them in New York as Global Chief Operating Officer of Neo @ Ogilvy, doing digital media for IBM, Cisco, Amex, and others. I did that for two or three years, and decided I was ready to do my own thing, which is when Enervee came up.
How did you end up in Santa Monica?
Matthias Kurwig: I owe it to my wife. We lived in Manhattan when I was doing my Ogilvy work, when our first daughter was born. We realized that Manhattan was not the best place to raise a child, and since I was starting Enervee, I figured we could do this anywhere. California seemed like a good market, and there's a high awareness of energy and green topics. We literally did a road trip all the way from San Diego to Marin County, to figure out where we could live, and where it would be a good environment for our business. That brought us to Santa Monica, where wemoved, and we're very happy we did.
What's the next goal for Enervee?
Matthias Kurwig: We just launched the Enervee score for television a few weeks back. We've literally spent two years building infrastructure and a scalable platform to deal with all the math. We engaged with Berkeley labs and the Department of Energy and worked on part of this with them, and we're now in a position where we can go through all of the individual categories, going from televisions to refrigerators, to kitchen appliances, and other appliance categories. We're also talking to large manufacturers, brands, and merchants about integrating Enervee score in as an API on their site, and provide this piece of information for consumers. The third thing we want to do is we want to get to Europe quickly. The consumers are already there, and with my background, I know how to do this. We want to start with Enervee in the Uk and in Germany soon.