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Winner Spotlight: How Modebo Combines Hardware and Software to Cut Energy Use

Dena Levitz Headshot

Dena Levitz

Challenge Cup Reporting Fellow, 1776

Owners of large buildings either don’t know—or care—about watts per square meter. As a result, they waste extreme amounts of energy within their properties. That’s where Modebo fits in. The Mexican startup’s goal is to provide efficiency and savings to buildings in an easy and inexpensive way, affordable to all.  

The company provides diagnostic-style information about buildings’ energy usage that is easy to understand, along with viable solutions and suggestions for how to cut back on energy, says CEO Jose Rodriguez Calixto. Calixto pitched his startup during the Challenge Cup Mexico City and ended up winning the energy category. He, as well as CSO Marisol Contreras Inclan and COO Antonio Bojorges Rodriguez, spoke after the win about Modebo’s strides and next steps.

Let’s start with the problem that you wanted to tackle.

Inclan: Forty percent of the buildings around the world have energy problems. Forty percent have the principal consumption of the world. So we’re attempting to reach this market with our technology, which has two patents. This is for existing buildings.

How does the solution work?

Rodriguez: It’s a system that consists of hardware and software. We place the hardware inside a building, inside the electrical cabinets. It measures the energy behavior and consumption in the building and places it into the Cloud.

Now in the Cloud we have software that analyzes the behavior of the building and then translates it to solutions. So basically what we do is give to the client two things: an electrical bill that is broken down like a telephone bill that says, “You called this number and that number,” or, “You messaged these people,” only for the electrical bill. Also we have automated solutions for the building and the building owners. They only need to see their mobile app and consult that and they get email notifications and can see a series of solutions they can adopt on their building right away to get savings.

So, on the savings front, how much are you able to save them?

Calixto: We have found that we can save them up to 30 percent, but the minimum quantity is 5 percent. This is because we find opportunity areas inside of the data.

Who are your clients now and your ideal clients?

Calixto: The ideal clients are malls, universities and very big buildings. But right now we’re focusing on chambers [of commerce] because they have lots of companies within them, so we can sell to the chambers and you can impact 40 or 50 buildings in a row.

It seems like there’s huge competition in the area of managing energy efficiency and also in the space of green building management. What makes you different?

Inclan: Our technology piece. We are getting a lot of information through big data. We have a big database for energy, not only in buildings but also we are working with housing and big complexes [to be able to look at trends].

How long ago did Modelo form?

Rodriguez: We’ve been working with this for five years but the technology has been developed for one year. We have a patent here in Mexico that’s already been given to us, and it’s also international.

What made your team go in this direction?

Calixto: This was our thesis. We started with that. After that we met Marisol. She’s an architect and she joined the team and the technology that we had at the time.

You won a trip to D.C. to compete in Challenge Festival. Between now and May what are the big milestones you want to hit?

Calixto: I think getting in more buildings. We have the chambers working. Between now and Challenge Festival we want to increase the amount of money we receive and the number of solutions.

Dena Levitz Headshot

Dena Levitz

Challenge Cup Reporting Fellow, 1776

Dena Levitz is traveling to almost all of the Challenge Cup cities to cover the competition and analyze startup ecosystems around the globe. Dena joins 1776 after finishing the first…