This Research Note examines 2 European startups targeting smarter self-learning thermostat hardware and software solutions for light commercial and public buildings: vilisto based in Hamburg, Germany and viboo based in Zurich, Switzerland.
Vilisto GmbH, founded in 2016, is the manufacturer of self-learning radiator thermostats for office buildings. The company's offering focuses on a heat management solution which digitizes the entire process of heat consumption, from the radiators to the boiler.
Their thermostats are made in Germany with integrated and patented presence detection. Through movement, sound and light in the room, the sensors detect when and how the individual rooms are used and heat them automatically as needed. By incorporating local weather data, the thermostat also calculates how long the room will take to heat up. As a result, rooms are preheated before use and automatically lowered when not in use.
Disclosed venture capital and crowdfunding investment for vilisto amounts to $7.18 million, although it is likely to be on the low side, due to an undisclosed seven-digit financing round in 2019. In July 2023, the company raised €5 million in a Series A funding round, backed by SET Ventures und E.R. Capital Holding. The simplicity of vilisto's solution convinced SET Ventures to invest in this funding round.
“After looking at several approaches to this problem, the ease of vilisto’s solution is what made them so appealing to SET Ventures. Their technology is easy to implement, it can truly be labelled ‘plug and play’ – a building owner simply installs a vilisto device in each room, and they immediately begin saving on their heating bills. It’s a total quick-win solution.”
Vilisto has an early lead in the German market. The company has 200+ customers including various companies and municipalities representing some 35,000 buildings using up to 32% less energy when it comes to the heating bill and making an important contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. vilisto reports 67 employees on LinkedIn, a 34% increase in headcount in the last 6 months.
Founded in 2022 in Zurich, Switzerland as a spinoff of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), viboo empowers smart thermostats with predictive algorithms, reducing energy usage by 20-40% in both light-commercial and residential buildings.
viboo claims to make buildings without a dedicated management system more energy efficient through its Predictive Control as a Service (PCaaS) platform, a cloud service that connects to smart thermostats and learns the thermal behaviour of a building in one to two weeks based on collected data. Their model predicts a building’s temperature evolution for the next couple of hours, considering several factors such as the weather forecast and occupant preferences.
This for example optimizes energy consumption because solar gains can be anticipated, and heating is lowered predictively before a room overheats. Also lowering room temperatures at night can be integrated easily, because the algorithm predicts when it needs to start heating again.
On 14th September 2023, viboo closed a CHF 1.5 million seed funding round with investments from High-Tech Gründerfonds, Swisscom Ventures and Rainmaking Impact. The round was oversubscribed, reflecting strong investor confidence and interest in the company’s potential to decarbonize buildings, and will be used to scale up the commercialization of the technology.
The business model of this early-stage venture differs from vilisto in that they are partnering with Original Equipment Manufacturers to incorporate their software into existing manual and smart thermostats. viboo are in various stages of collaboration with Danfoss, ABB, Schneider Electric, Bouygues and Netatmo.
With a successful pilot already completed with Danfoss, viboo is well-placed to scale up the commercialization of their technology focusing on light commercial buildings.
This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori.