Q+A: Meet Local Startups Exhibiting at the EarthX Innovation Expo

From using AI and imaging processing to evaluate fruits and veggies to helping commercial real estate owners manage their solar assets, learn more about the energy technology startups that will be featured at EarthX through Sunday.

Earth Day at EarthX Innovation Expo

Energy technology startups with North Texas ties will be part of the 40 exhibitors featured at the E-Capital Summit Innovation Expo at EarthX this weekend.

EarthX Vice President Matt Myers, who helped organize the E-Capital Summit to facilitate discussions about clean tech investment, said 20 percent of this year’s participants are women-led companies or groups.

Those with a North Texas presence include Evolving Energy Systems LLC,Linear Labs, UHV Technologies, Intello Labs, Key Solar Strategies, and Skyven Technologies. 

Leaders from Intello Labs, Key Solar Strategies, and Skyven Technologies took some time this week to tell Dallas Innovates about how their work is making a difference in clean tech.


Sreevidya Ghantasala, head of U.S. operations for Intello Labs

Can you explain your product/business?

Intello Labs uses image processing and artificial intelligence for the quality evaluation of fruits and vegetables and other agri commodities.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field?

Our technology uses a simple hand held camera from a smartphone to take pictures and capture the images. We don’t require sophisticated technology to work with our software. Our AI algorithm can also be trained at a very rapid speed.

Where are you at in product development?

We have rolled out the software and done pilots with several clients globally.

How much money have you raised? What round of funding are you in?

We’ve raised $400,000 from friends and family.

What led you to Intello Labs?

I was really impressed with the way this startup is able to solve some of the most pressing problems in the agricultural industry. Having a background in agriculture personally, intrigued me to learn more about the company and see how I could bring my skills to help their efforts.

Why did Intello Labs choose North Texas for its U.S. base of operations?

By opening the company in North Texas, the opportunities that are here are abundant. Also, Texas being one of the largest states for agricultural production, really helps us with the business.


Kirk Williamson, CEO of Key Solar Strategies 

What led you to start your business? 

 I’ve been interested in solar energy since I started my career in 2009, installing solar systems for friends and family, but my main pursuit over my career has been expanding solar within the commercial market. Key Solar Strategies is the culmination of years of firsthand experience, and market observations that led us to see an opportunity in the commercial and industrial market.

Can you explain your product/business?

 Key Solar Strategies is a solar investment advisory firm that is innovating around how commercial real estate owners profitably invest and own solar assets. Through our patent pending process, Cool Solar, portfolio building owners are able to utilize solar as a broader investment instrument. For the first time, commercial property owners are able to own solar in a financially viable way, while achieving true sustainable impacts to their operations. We are really opening up the commercial market, which to date has been the lagging market in solar.

Where are you at in product development?

To date, we have self-funded KSS as we perfected our systems and go to market strategies. We are now seeking an initial round of funding from a strategic capital source to fund the operational scale necessary to manage the scalable growth in the commercial market.           

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business? 

Altogether, our firm is made up of individuals that know the marketplace, have a vision for how this particular business model can disrupt the commercial solar space, and the experience to execute that vision in a marked way.


Arun Gupta, CEO and founder of Skyven Technologies

What led you to start your business?

Climate change is the biggest problem we’ve ever faced as a species. It has the potential to cause massive destruction, famine, and loss — not once, but over and over again, forever. Unless we stop it. There’s been great progress towards clean emissions-free solutions for electricity generation and transportation, but there’s a dark underbelly in the world of energy and carbon emissions. 

Thermal energy, or heat, is required to process raw materials into the finished good we consume on a daily basis. This heat is produced by burning fuel in industrial boilers, accounting for over 30 percent of all fuel burned on the face of the earth. No renewable solutions exist — at least none that compete and win against traditional fuels the way that clean electricity and electric cars are gaining ground against coal and gasoline. Skyven is changing that.

Can you explain you product/business?

Skyven’s revolutionary Intelligent Mirror Array technology is a fuel-less zero-emissions heat source. It reduces air pollution and energy costs of industrial customers. Instead of relying solely on petroleum products to run their boilers, our customers save money by directly capturing and concentrating the sun’s energy.

What differentiates your business from others in your particular field? 

When people think about solar energy, they think photovoltaics (PV). PV panels produce electricity, not heat, and does so at a low efficiency of 20 percent. Because Skyven’s IMA technology captures the sun’s heat without converting it into electricity, it produces thermal energy at 60 percent efficiency. That’s three times more energy from the same amount of sunlight.

Where are you at in product development?

We’ve developed seven generations of prototypes. Our last generation prototype has been on test for one and a half years now. Our first commercial units are rolling off the manufacturing line in a couple of months from now, and we’re starting our commercial deployment soon after that.

Is there anything else people should know about you and/or your business?

Last year, Skyven was awarded the $1 million grand prize in New York State’s 76West Clean Energy Competition. We have also been recognized by the National Science Foundation as well as renown business accelerators such as the Cleantech Open and MassChallenge.

MORE INFO

Get a full schedule of EarthX happenings here.

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