Below is our recent interview with Dan Ryan, CEO & Founder of VergeSense:
Q: Tell us how you founded the company, and what made you decide to jump in and create the business?
A: After graduating from Boston University and working at Bloomberg LP in New York City, as part of a team responsible for valuation analysis on $1B+ of asset-backed securities, I left to pursue an interest in developing technology that helps us bridge the physical and digital worlds. The first company I founded was ByteLight, an early pioneer in developing sub-meter accuracy indoor location services for retailers.
The company was named by Fast Company as one of the most innovative companies in the world in 2014. After selling ByteLight to Acuity Brands in 2015, I worked within their company for a few years before scratching my entrepreneurial itch again by joining Y Combinator in May 2017. My interest in starting VergeSense, was based on bridging the physical and digital worlds of the commercial real estate industry with the new capabilities that AI and computer vision provide.
As the price of commercial real estate continues to skyrocket it is becoming a more significant annual asset for companies. It is a multi-billion-dollar asset class, and the majority of properties are often only 50% occupied. VergeSense can maximize space utilization and the overall value of this asset.
Q: What are your key features?
A: The VergeSense sensor-as-a-service platform creates an information layer within properties. An easy-to-use dashboard provides managers with actionable insights and AI-powered recommendations rather than only giving a view of current data.
Data can also stream through the VergeSense Open API into other software solutions or applications. For example, VergeSense data can be streamed to a room booking solution to free up a conference room when no one shows up for a scheduled meeting.
VergeSense data can also power dynamic workplace strategies by identifying where employees are best situated to work at any specific moment. This opens up thousands of use cases for VergeSense data to accompany VergeSense applications currently in use across 1 million sq. ft of commercial properties.
These applications include: People Counting: Provides a real-time and historical count of the number of property occupants. Room and Desk Utilization: Gives users the ability to measure utilization rates across a facility — from conference rooms to private offices, to co-working areas Hot Desking: Identifies open desks and dynamically assigns staff members to their desk to drive workplace efficiency. Emergency Response: Pulls a count of every person in the building during an emergency event and their status.
Q: How do you attract customers and businesses to start using your services?
A: Building on our relationship with JLL through the investment from JLL Spark will undoubtedly assist in connecting us to potential buyers within the commercial real estate sector. JLL has 4.6 billion square feet of real estate under management. We also are looking to scale through the distribution of the VergeSense API as our data is used more by third-party applications.
Furthermore, we’re super cost effective and can be installed in minutes, so the barriers to buying are minimal for real estate investors, property managers, and workplace tenants interested in increasing asset value and creating a more productive workplace.
Q: You’ve recently managed to raise $1,5M, could you tell us more about it?
A: We recently raised $1.5M in a strategic investment led by JLL Spark, the division of JLL that manages a $100M venture fund connecting promising new technology companies with JLL’s business lines and clients. Bolt and Pathbreaker Ventures also participated in the latest funding round. We had previously raised $150K from Y Combinator. As I mentioned, JLL Spark gives us unique visibility and connections within the commercial real estate industry, and we’re thrilled to be working with them. Bolt and Pathbreaker Ventures are really both looking increasingly at the intersection of hardware and software opportunities — so there were synergies there as well.
Q: What are your plans for the future? Do you have any new features in the pipeline?
A: The great thing about our technology is that it is continuously learning. As the platform collects more data, the platform gets smarter with recommendations over time. Also, as more powerful machine-learning modules become available, software updates enable the sensors to learn to detect new types of events. We’re working on some new modules and applications, and hope to share more on that with you soon!