I installed my Sense a little over a month ago. I love the idea and I love the product, but I think there’s a few places the company needs to up their game in order to make it to the Series C / Series D type company.
For context, I come from a tech company finance / VC background, so my comments are focused from that angle.
Sense has positioned itself as the “high end” energy monitor because of the machine learning aspect. This is absolutely the right call based on the technology. However, there are several aspects of the customer experience that don’t align with the high-end expectations that come from a $350 energy monitor. I think this is reflected in some of the frustrations with device detection both in this forum and on Amazon.
Part of the challenge is that customers form their opinion of a product (particularly high-end products) within the first 24-48 hours of owning it. Improving Amazon reviews likely means improving the customer experience withing the first few days of owning the device.
First off, what are Sense customers looking for? They want to understand and control their electric bill, usually focused on the following three areas:
- Understanding and changing usage of the major energy users in the house (HVAC, hot water, etc.)
- Eliminating the “Always-On” usage
- Getting an immediate read on some new big shiny purchase (electric car, pool, heat pump, etc).
Sense does a really good job of identifying the “Always-On” usage. I think you nailed it with that category. It is easy to understand what the always-on load is within 48 hours, and take some actionable items to reduce it.
Identifying the other big usage loads is a challenge. A month in, I still don’t have a good detection on my AC (easily 30%+ of my usage in the summer) and only a partial detection on my dryer (I would guess 5-10% of my usage). While I’d love for machine learning to pick these up, I just care about getting them detected.
-Set a corporate goal / KPI that customers should be able to detect X% of their energy usage within the first 48 hours of owning their Sense. This is key to the positive first impression.
How to achieve this
-Provide a harness with multiple sets of amp clamps. Maybe 4ish. These can be used for Solar, multi-panel setups, or those big 240v breakers dedicated to individual devices.
-Package the Sense with a few Kasa smart plugs to handle those devices you acknowledge are hard to detect. Kasa will probably agree to provide these nearly free if you can show them how much money people spend on smart plugs after they purchase their first one.
-I think the B2C model has been a great place to start for you guys. The Sense for utilities also looks interesting. However, I would seriously look at whether channel-partner relationships make sense. This might be more of a problem to look at in a Series C/Series D funding type scenario, but my gut feel is that most consumers make decisions about electrical equipment only when they’re looking at big electrical upgrades to the house.
For example, most solar installers include some level of solar monitoring with the install. Why shouldn’t they include a better Sense?
I bet 90%+ of the people getting electric car chargers installed would be interested in home energy monitoring installed at the same time (as long as the car charger is picked up by the Sense immediately).
Homeowners are probably also very amenable to a home energy monitor sale when they’re replacing major HVAC components. This also assumes the new device will be detected immediately.
You should be talking to the manufacturers of these major devices and installers. You may have to do some direct integrations with those manufacturers products, but you’re getting a built-in salesforce when you do it. You’ll also be putting Sense in front of people at the moment they’re most likely to buy home-energy monitoring.