Chai Energy is a free mobile app, empowering its users with tools to make smart energy choices. Chai identifies energy-saving opportunities based on a user’s actual energy consumption, and recommends rebates, incentives, and programs to help in savings on utility bills. It allows consumers to see which appliances are running, how much energy they are using, and how much it is costing in real time.
Two of Chai’s founders, Cole Hershkowitz and Evan Birenbaum, were employees at Southern California Edison where they worked on policy and deploying residential smart meters. Cole and Chai’s third co-founder Ka Suen met at Caltech while working on designing a net-zero energy house. These projects revealed the significant amount of data gathered through the installation of smart meters, and the opportunity to feed that data to households to help in energy conservation.
From that mission, Chai Energy was born. Now a team of six, Chai is headquartered at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) space in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. LACI was instrumental in providing a connected workspace, with collaborative opportunities with companies like PickMySolar, in an environment conducive to access to capital.
Chai’s business model is scalable on a global level, being an export-oriented service to any utility using smart-meter technology. The company is looking to expand service beyond residential customers, to commercial companies and potentially globally to countries like Ireland, France and Australia – those with accelerator programs to foster connections and with the required technology in place.
Cole, Evan, and Ka are examples of the use of innovation and entrepreneurship, in conjunction with and the support of LACI, to address an environmental challenge that can be scaled and expanded on a global level.