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Cortex’s software helps to decarbonize commercial buildings. The company, which is based in New York, was founded in 2014. Decarbonizing is the process of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
“What we’ve created is the fastest and the lowest-cost way for buildings to reduce their energy use, their energy spend, and their emissions,” CEO Bryan Bennett said in an interview.
Bennett grew up in commercial real estate, as his parents developed office buildings in the Washington, D.C. area. He spent eight years in management consulting after college, which is where he developed a passion for energy technology and how it can drive sustainability change, he said.
“There’s just all of this data being collected by buildings, thousands of data points every single minute, growing massively in quantity over the last 10 or 20 years, and nobody’s really doing anything with it,” Bennett said. “And today with where artificial intelligence and machine learning technology is, you can use that data to drive…really significant energy savings.”
If a person were to walk into a commercial building now, there’s likely building engineers in the basement making decisions every day about what equipment runs. Those decisions impact how much energy the building is using, but the way the teams work now is usually very old school, Bennett said. Cortex’s machine learning can complement a team’s human learning to drive operating decisions.
Over 50 million square feet of buildings use Cortex’s technology, including the Empire State Building.
“We, like a lot of others, have seen companies trying to solve this problem before, but almost always with some sort of hardware based solution,” 4490 Ventures managing director Dan Malven said in an interview. “This is the first one we’ve seen that’s software only. The market has taken a long time to develop in terms of the value of energy savings. A lot of people have talked about it for a long time and there have been some incentives in place, some carrots, some sticks to get companies to be more energy efficient, but we felt the timing is now when that’s really going to accelerate. So the adoption by property owners is going to increase quite dramatically over the next couple of years.”
It’s helped that Cortex has been very capital efficient in its approximately seven years of operations, as it’s difficult to have a high burn rate when waiting for a market to develop, Malven added.
The Series A brings Cortex’s total funding to $11 million. With the new funding, the company plans on doubling its employee base from 15 to about 30 by the end of the year, hiring in Nashville, New York, and Washington, D.C. The company will also be investing in software and machine learning.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias