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Wattcost racks up Rackspace win

A Sydney-based startup that uses cloud-based data analytics and low-power Wi-Fi beacons to help homeowners manage their energy usage has won this year's Rackspace Small Teams, Big Impacts Award.

Sydney-based energy technology startup Wattcost has taken home Rackspace Australia's 2014 Small Teams, Big Impacts Award, beating out five other Australian startups in a pitch event held in Sydney last night.

Wattcost's cloud-based home energy intelligence platform sufficiently impressed the panel of judges, which included Rackspace Startup liaison officer Robert Scoble, general partner at Seapoint Ventures Melissa Widner, Ben Chong from Sydney Seed Fund and Founder Institute, Chris Ridd from Xero, and Rick Baker from Blackbird Ventures.

The hardware and cloud-based data analytics startup has developed technology which it claims can make any home "intelligent" through the use of low-cost Wi-Fi-based technology. The technology captures real-time data from electricity meters with a simple optical sensor that attaches to power home meters.

Wattcost's cloud-based home intelligence platform disaggregates individual home appliance use and costs for real-time appliance-level safety alerts and personalised savings advice on users' smartphones and tablets.

While the company's low-power Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n beacon, which sends the data via the internet to its secure cloud-based servers for real-time analysis, is yet to be generally released, Wattcost is giving those interested in the technology the option of pre-ordering the device.

Co-founder David Soutar, who presented the pitch, said that the company chose to give potential customers the option of pre-ordering the device directly rather than mounting a fund-raising effort through a crowdfunding platform.

Wattcost win
Wattcost co-founder David Soutar (L) and Rackspace ANZ general manager Angus Dorney (R). Image: Rackspace

The device will be ready to ship from the company's manufacturing facility early next year, with the accompanying smartphone app set to be made available at the same time, according to Soutar.

During his pitch, Soutar stressed that, although homeowners' energy usage data would be channelled back to Wattcost's Rackspace-hosted cloud servers, customers would retain ownership of that data and will be able to control who can access the information.

Soutar told ZDnet that Wattcost expects to begin customer field trials before Easter this year.

Wattcost's pitch comes only weeks after another local startup Ecocentric Energy pitched a similar product at IBM's SmartCamp 2014 event in Sydney earlier this month.

Ecocentric Energy's NRGi (pronounced energy-eye) system was developed in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and automates data acquisition for energy audits to help governments and businesses achieve their energy mitigation targets.

As the Rackspace startup program's 2014 winner, Wattcost received the Small Teams, Big Impact 2014 winner's trophy, a return ticket to San Francisco, a visit to Silicon Valley, and a video interview in Scoble's recording studio.

"We were blown away with the quality of entrants in this year's Small Teams, Big Impact Awards, and the six finalists represent the impressive levels of innovation we are seeing in the ANZ startup community," said Rackspace ANZ general manager, Angus Dorney. "We saw everything from 3D printing for education to energy saving technology, and ethical e-commerce platforms."

The other finalists included Elex Ratio, a company that has developed a legal systems integration platform; Makers Empire, the developer of 3D-printing software for schools; Pasa, the maker of an e-commerce platform; and Today We Learned, which has developed a school engagement platform.