Smart Building startup focused on hotels has significant traction in Asia
Originally published in GlobeNewsWire on April 23, 2020
SINGAPORE, April 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — SensorFlow, a Singapore-based proptech startup that helps hotels and commercial properties optimize their energy and operational efficiency, today announced that it has raised US$8.3 million in a Series A+ funding round, led by Openspace Ventures and Gaw Capital Partners.
The funding will be used to further develop the startup’s smart building management solution for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and launch in the United States this year. The funds will also be used to hire new talent in hardware and data science roles as well as to expand to new global markets.
SensorFlow’s latest funding round was co-led by Openspace Ventures and Gaw Capital Partners, which invest in early-stage technology companies in Southeast Asia and global real estate markets respectively. Other prominent investors who featured in the round were Aurum Investments – a proptech focused venture capital fund, and Pierre Lorient.
“For the hospitality sector, the need for optimising energy and operational efficiency is especially pertinent now as it works on recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our technology can help hotels and properties maximise the use of limited resources, adopt clean technologies, and become more sustainable. SensorFlow’s solutions can thus help clients save costs in the longer term and bounce back faster from the pandemic’s economic effects,” said Saikrishnan Ranganathan, CEO and Co-Founder of SensorFlow.
“Climate change has largely altered our lifestyle choices, and travellers in the US have become more environmentally conscious. In the past year, we have seen a significant increase in the number of hotels partnering with us across Southeast Asia to achieve better efficiency and sustainability. This is highly encouraging and places us in a much stronger position to develop our solution further to meet demand in new key markets such as Japan, Australia, Europe and the US. Through our smart automation solution, we want to make advanced sustainability technologies the new standard in the global hospitality industry,” added Saikrishnan Ranganathan.
Founded in 2016, startup SensorFlow offers buildings, including hotels, offices and industrial spaces, the ability to automate HVAC systems, monitor equipment performance, and optimise housekeeping routes through an Internet of Things (IoT) technology and artificial intelligence-driven solution. The solution generates up to 30 to 50 percent of savings on hotel room HVAC costs, which can translate up to 30 percent in savings on total hotel energy bills. Following its Series A+ round, the startup will develop its solution to automate HVAC systems with heating features to address the needs of markets with colder climates.
To date, SensorFlow has been signed on by about 10,000 hotel rooms across Southeast Asia, and recorded a 1,000 percent increase in hotel room installations since 2019.
“We are committed to supporting startups that develop innovative technologies to transform the way we operate,” said Gervin Yang, VP Investments at Openspace Ventures. “SensorFlow’s cutting-edge solution leads to energy and operational efficiency gains that contribute to substantial cost savings. This is especially important in the current climate and can be adopted by any property manager looking to increase profitability as well as to reduce their impact on the environment.”
SensorFlow’s smart wireless IoT solution features real-time data tracking to help properties monitor energy consumption trends and make better-informed operational decisions based on big data. Wireless sensors gather data on guest behaviour within hotel rooms and the system optimises energy usage automatically. It activates maintenance alerts when it detects faulty equipment, reducing disruptions to the guest experience. The solution can be easily retrofitted into any room (hotel or industrial) in under five minutes, eliminating any downtime during installation.
Christina Gaw, Managing Principal and Head of Capital Markets of Gaw Capital Partners, said, “Gaw Capital Partners is always looking at innovative technologies that will shape the future of real estate. We are excited by the versatile solution offered and developed by SensorFlow, which will enable better operational productivity and more efficient resource deployment. We foresee big commercial real estate owners and hotel operators integrating smart building solutions in a not-too-distant future.”
SensorFlow is also supporting its new and existing clients through innovative solutions to better manage the COVID-19 outbreak. To help its existing and potential hotel partners better manage the ongoing pandemic, SensorFlow is moving to a floating payment model instead of fixed payments. SensorFlow will charge hotels on a pro-rated basis, which is a fixed percentage of each month’s energy savings as compared to a fixed monthly amount of the average based on a one-year projection. Hoteliers keen on adopting this model will hence have zero net cost and benefit from energy savings or cost savings immediately. SensorFlow shall continue with its floating payment model until the situation normalises.
Given the limited staff availability due to COVID-19, SensorFlow is also developing new features under the ‘Productivity Suite’ which help properties improve operational productivity and inter-team communication, besides sustainability management. One of its key features, ‘housekeeping view’, uses live occupancy data to help hotel staff optimise cleaning routes, while engineering teams can better leverage system performance data to generate performance benchmarks, develop predictive maintenance strategies and resolve HVAC issues on the spot.
SensorFlow plans to launch in the US by Q4 2020 with focus on hotels located in selected cities, including: New York, Las Vegas, Washington and Los Angeles. The US hospitality industry, with its advanced level of technology readiness, high demand for sustainable solutions and high labour costs is an ideal target market. As such, the US market is expected to be open to the adoption of advanced IoT solutions that can help improve their efficiency and productivity. In spite of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, by the end of 2020 SensorFlow aims to work with major hotel brands across key US cities on installations, these will serve as an impactful showcase for 2021 to spring-board their expansion into the market.
In the near future, the company expects rapid growth with existing client partners which currently include hospitality clients carrying global brand names managed by Dorsett Hospitality International, Accor, The Ascott Limited and Hyatt, providing SensorFlow with a key opportunity to expand SensorFlow’s portfolio and potentially place their smart technology in around one million rooms worldwide by 2023.
This round follows SensorFlow’s Series A funding in February 2019, which was led by private investor and finance sector veteran Pierre Lorinet, with participation from Cocoon Capital and Playfair Capital.
SensorFlow Pte. Ltd. is a Singapore-based, proptech startup combining the use of smart wireless IoT solutions and AI to help buildings monitor, analyse and automate energy consumption for better productivity, sustainability and energy efficiency. It was founded in 2016 by Saikrishnan Ranganathan and Max Pagel in response to the pressing need for energy optimisation worldwide.
In addition to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) management, SensorFlow’s solution offers real-time data insights on energy consumption, occupancy trends and guest behaviours. These can be used to enhance the overall guest experience at the room and create better management at the property and portfolio levels as building managers get prompt alerts on faulty equipment. Housekeeping routes can also be optimised in real-time based on room occupancy data.
SensorFlow’s retrofit solution, which comprises sensors and proprietary networks, are quick and easy to install in less than 5 minutes per room and with no operational disruptions. Its Pay-As-You-Save model means there are no upfront costs. Alternative agreements can also be provided with a one-time upfront payment for increased savings over time. Hotels are expected to save up to 30 percent in total energy savings and up to 40 percent in maintenance costs.
For more information, please visit: www.sensorflow.co
About Openspace Ventures
Openspace Ventures focuses on Series A and B investments in technology companies based in Southeast Asia. Key areas of investment for Openspace Ventures include fintech, healthtech, edutech, consumer applications and cloud-based solutions. Openspace Ventures is currently investing its second fund and has approximately US$225 million in total committed capital. Openspace has invested in 28 companies, including Gojek, Halodoc, Love, Bonito, Topica, CXA, FinAccel, and Pathao.
About Gaw Capital Partners
Gaw Capital Partners is a uniquely positioned private equity fund management company that focusing on real estate markets in greater China and other high barrier-to-entry markets globally.
Specializing in adding strategic value to under-utilized real estate through redesign and repositioning, Gaw Capital runs an integrated business model with its own in-house asset management operating platforms in retail, hospitality, property development and logistics. The firm’s investments span the entire spectrum of real estate sectors, including residential development, offices, retail malls, hospitality and logistics warehouses.
Gaw Capital has raised six commingled funds targeting the Greater China and APAC regions since 2005. The firm also manages value-add/opportunistic funds in Vietnam and the US, a Pan-Asia hospitality fund, a European hospitality fund and also provides services for separate account direct investments globally.
Gaw Capital has raised equity of US$14.2 billion since 2005 and commands assets of US$24.8 billion under management as of Q4 2019.