At a fund as agnostic as Vitosha, it’s hard to say that we focus on specific technologies, industries, or verticals. Our mandate is to invest in the best and the brightest founders based in Bulgaria, that chase the most promising opportunities for disruption and growth. But looking at our portfolio so far, with 85 investments and counting, one can definitely see certain trends.
We have a number of great companies that offer globally relevant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. We have also invested in a number of consumer (B2C) marketplaces that have become market leaders in Bulgaria, and are starting to achieve successes in other countries as well. And then we have an ever-growing portfolio of energy efficiency investments. It seems that, as Europe is solidly delivering on our common goal and promise to become carbon-neutral and energy-sustainable, applications that help businesses and consumers save energy will be a very big topic for European innovations for a long time.
One such company, a recent investment we made with Vitosha, is AIoT Cloud. What started in 2021, at the peak of the Covid pandemic as an experiment between founders Nikola, Denis, and Vladimir, quickly evolved into first prototypes, and then first clients. The idea was straightforward: create a vendor-agnostic environment for managing the energy consumption of buildings and businesses, by collecting data from as wide as possible a range of connected devices and supplementary Internet-of-Things (IoT) relays, that collect the energy data of devices that themselves aren’t connected.
What started as an idea for Nikola and Denis, based mostly on observations of clients at their previous finance sector employers, became a validated product plan when Vladimir met the team. He already had experience managing a family business with energy-consuming facilities, and had tried implementing various solutions on the market to achieve the same goal: measure, analyze, and reduce energy consumption of electrical appliances and equipment.
As Nikola says, what the team quickly established was that there are almost no solutions on the market that offer full compatibility with all the various connected devices available. “The large vendors have their own solutions that provide excellent results with data from their own sensors and appliances, but if you want to bring in data from other sources, you’re left out”, he says.
A big early step for AIoT Cloud was the early-on business partnership with Shelly Group, the company behind the Allterco brand, one of the leaders of connected devices in the world, with over 10 million devices sold and integrated, which also happens to have Bulgarian roots. With Vitosha, we joined the seed round in AIoT Cloud together with Shelly, with which we aim to empower AIoT Cloud to quickly position themselves on the rapidly growing energy savings and -efficiency market in Europe.
Team AIoT Cloud in their lab, left to right: Denis, Nikola, Vladimir
Nikola explains that with AIoT cloud, anyone with an industrial plant, a hospitality facility, or retail location can quickly set up and start measuring the power usage of their equipment and appliances, while the AIoT Cloud environment processes all the data and offers suggestions on implementing changes that can reduce energy consumption by an average 30%, with some clients reaching all the way to 50% savings. “It’s not that there are no other ways to do it, but AIoT Cloud is the easiest and the most cost efficient one”, he continues. “We have several competitors in Europe, but they are less flexible and more expensive, and offer less coverage in terms of equipment compliance. Also, a big part of the market we’re addressing are Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), who audit energy consumption at their own expense, but then take a share of the generated savings. With AIoT Cloud, you can do all of that yourself, quicker, and with much higher returns and savings”.
There are many examples that the enthusiastic AIoT Cloud team shared, from baking ovens that became 30% less energy-consuming when the solution identified excessive burn of the produce, to pharmacy clients that keep too many lights on during the day hours. At Vitosha, we’re confident that the ability of the team, coupled with the support of a player like Shelly Group, can quickly help the company take up its space as a major provider for energy saving solutions to hundreds of thousands of businesses in Bulgaria and all of Europe. A greener and more sustainable future that we’re very much looking forward to.