Made in NYC: Callida Energy
Callida Energy is reinventing the way buildings work.
The average commercial building wastes 30% of the energy it consumes. The overall associated costs from the nation's five million buildings add up to billions of squandered dollars every year. Made in NYC startup Callida Energy is working to reduce that waste.
A graduate of the 2013 DreamIt Ventures Accelerator class, Callida is aptly named after the flowering plant Ivesia Callida. Just as the flowering plant efficiently uses natural resources, Callida similarly aims to reduce financial cost and subsequent environmental impact. The 2-year-old startup uses a variety of measurements to offer cost and energy reductions such as heating and cooling schedules that help regulate a building's temperature more efficiently throughout the day.
Since launching, Callida has piloted with buildings at Harvard University, Transwestern, and the City of New York Police Department.
Callida's co-founder, Raphael Carty, shared with us the green vision behind Callida and why he's proud to be based right here in New York City.
What is Callida's mission?
At Callida, our mission is to improve the sustainability of the built environment. Buildings account for 39% of energy used, 70% of electricity consumed, and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., so efforts to optimize energy use in buildings can have a huge impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making our community more energy self-sufficient.
What is Callida's biggest accomplishment thus far?
We've worked with some really progressive customers in commercial real estate, education, and government. We are excited to have signed a great local NYC customer just last month.
What qualities do you look for in employees generally?
I look for competency, collaborative spirit, curiosity, and an environmental commitment.
First off, we look for people who know their stuff. Second, we look for people who collaborate well with others. In a startup, you work hard and no one gets it done alone. Curiosity is important because you sometimes "don’t know what you don’t know," when you are pioneering a new market. Someone who is curious will figure out the right questions to ask to keep moving forward.
Finally, environmental commitment is not a prerequisite to working at Callida—it’s more of a bonus. We founded this company to have an environmental impact through helping customers solve a business problem. People who have a personal stake in improving the environment bring a real passion to what we are doing at Callida.
What has been your biggest hiring difficulty and how has Tech Talent Draft helped?
Finding technical talent in NYC can be challenging. Not because we don’t have really sharp technical people here. There just aren’t enough of them for all of the startups, larger tech companies, and Wall Street. The Tech Talent Draft has spread the word to college grads through the road show and the online system that NYC is one of the hottest places to work with some unique advantages. At Callida, we have connected with some very high-quality students.
Last summer we hired a terrific, Princeton mechanical engineering major who was also studying sustainability. He was our first product management intern and did a great job. Right now, we are in the process of extending an offer to a sharp engineering graduate who we found through the Tech Talent Draft.
What is the best part about working at Callida?
Working in an exciting technology area—big data/machine learning—and using it to make a difference in the world.
Do you have any company traditions?
We're pretty informal here, but we are constantly searching for great sandwiches and the perfect blueberry muffin in the West Village area where we work.
Why New York City?
New York has the greatest concentration of office buildings in America. This is the perfect place to pilot a new technology to make buildings more efficient.
Any advice for recruits/college graduates looking to work at a company like Callida?
Know your stuff. Get a solid foundation in school. Also, it doesn’t hurt to learn to code, even if you are not a CS major. Cast a broad net and get exposed to a lot of different technologies/markets. See what gets you excited.
Then, figure out when it's the right time for you to make the plunge. Everyone doesn’t have to start a company directly out of college. If you have that breakthrough idea and are ready to do it immediately, then go ahead. Or you may work at an existing startup or larger company (e.g. Google) to get your feet wet. Do what makes sense for you, given your skill set and comfort level with the unstructured environment of a startup.