The Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator is in its third year with 10 startups from Alabama, other states and even other countries. The Alabama NewsCenter spotlights all Class 2022 companies.
In this startup spotlight, we look at WhyGrene Inc.
Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator 2022: WhyGrene Inc. from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.
Company: Why Greene Inc.
Headquarters: Seattle, Washington
Guide: Founder and CEO Patrick Phelps, CTO Miles Olszko, Software Lead James Kempf, Director Mani Vadari, Legal Director Todd Phelps, Advisors Craig Brauff and David Liddle
Alabama NewsCenter: What is your company’s overall focus and mission?
Patrick Phelps: WhyGrene’s energy trading platform helps accelerate the sustainable energy transition by balancing supply and demand of electricity. We enable energy providers and their users to get the maximum benefit from energy resources such as sun, wind, batteries, electric vehicles and smart thermostats. For users, our energy exchange uses artificial intelligence to buy energy at the lowest cost from solar and wind, then resell stored energy with batteries and electric vehicles at the right time to get the best return on investment (ROI). Through an easy-to-use smartphone app, users can register their devices, set their preferences and receive real-time bill credits. This helps energy providers make renewable energy more reliable and affordable for their entire community.
ANC: What inspired you to start this company? How would you like to contribute to the future of energy and technology?
Phelps: I founded WhyGrene because, even as I saw solar and wind farms being installed, I knew that the fluctuating supply of electricity from renewable sources was not in line with society’s electricity needs. The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow when we need to power our homes and factories. This imbalance between electricity supply and demand causes summer electricity prices to fluctuate between 7.5 cents and 27.5 cents per kilowatt hour in Alabama and between 10 cents and $2 per kilowatt hour in California.
I realized that if utilities could automatically buy and sell energy with their users’ solar, battery, and electric vehicles during critical times, power supply and demand could be balanced, leading to minimized outages and price increases. At the same time, customers could benefit by charging their batteries when electricity is cheapest and then selling it back to the grid when electricity is most expensive. This seemed like a tremendous win-win opportunity that just needed the right team to make it a reality.
ANC: What drew you to the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator?
Phelps: We joined the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator to learn from Techstars, Alabama Power and Southern Company. The direct experience of working with one of the largest utility companies in the country was an opportunity worth packing up and driving across the country for. Techstars Alabama will help us move from proof of concept to commercialization faster and make a difference at a critical moment for sustainable energy future viability. The world will continue to need more energy, and we want to help ensure that renewable energy can be used in a mutually beneficial way for both utilities and their users.
ANC: What is the most important thing potential investors should know about your company?
Phelps: Our Energy Exchange software is the marketplace for buying and selling all forms of energy and renewable energy credits with one platform, unlike competitors who are often limited to one or the other. There will always be new sources of power generation, storage and consumption, but there will always be a need to buy and sell energy in real-time.
ANC: What insights do you hope your company will learn from participating in the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator?
Phelps: We want to learn how to help utility companies work with their customers to optimize the use of renewable energy for the benefit of all. The ability to work directly with Alabama Power means we can better understand the challenges facing solar-plus battery utilities, adapt to the proliferation of electric vehicles and charging stations, and most importantly, deliver reliable and affordable power to their customers .
ANC: What do you think of Birmingham so far?
Phelps: Birmingham is a hub for innovation with many startups moving here for Techstars and Alabama Power. Seattle has some of the most successful startups in the world and even a Techstars program, but Birmingham and Alabama Power’s support of entrepreneurs brought us here. We drove over 40 hours from Seattle to Birmingham and it was worth it to join Techstars Alabama EnergyTech plus all that great BBQ!
You can find WhyGrene Inc. online at whygrene.com and on Facebook and LinkedIn.
The Alabama NewsCenter Highlights the Class of 2022 Startups Participating in the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator. Learn more about Techstars here.