eSmart Systems started its operations 1st of February by 6 industry veterans with an average of 15 years of international experience delivering IT-systems to the energy industry. We have now grown to over 20 people, moved to brand new offices and are very proud to have hired our first female employee.
Growing so fast have been a challenge. We have to ensure both quality of our operations and that we do not grow faster than our cash flow permits. Many years of experience ensure that we avoid many of the common pitfalls, and our partners have provided great help during this process.
One of the first major tasks for eSmart was to find the right partners. eSmart was started with the idea that the Smart Grid revolution and the changes in the IT-technology sector over the past decade requires new IT-systems built from scratch. The systems has to deal with the huge amounts of data and intelligence required in Smart Grids, but also has to enable businesses to take advantage of the new IT-revolution (see http://labs.esmartsystems.com/2013/10/24/the-nexus-of-forces/). Our goal is to provide disruptive technology and to be the number one challenger to traditional energy IT-system vendors, and a small startup cannot do this alone.
Innovation Norway has been a great supporter. They have helped us visit Silicon Valley twice this year in two separate arrangements. First during the TINC spring’13 where we worked hard to find the right technology partners in California, and later during the crown prince and princess delegation to visit companies in Silicon Valley and strengthen the contact between Silicon Valley and Norway.
Perhaps most importantly, Innovation Norway awarded us funding for our IRD-project (Industrial Research and Development Project) to build our platform and our first commercial products. The project is a collaboration between eSmart Systems, Innovation Norway, Fredrikstad Energy, Sogn and Fjordane Energy and Big Data Energy Services. It is evident that working closely with our partners is very important, and the success of our products is closely linked to the success of this collaboration. During this first year, we have had workshops, innovation workouts and weekly meetings ensuring the quality of both product specifications and product deliveries.
We look forward to release our first product in 2014. We have already started with the first marketing activities, and look forward to a hectic year where sales and customer acquisition will be a major activity in addition to continuing the great product development job.
Happy holidays, and hope to meet you sometime during 2014!
eSmart Systems is still a company in the startup phase, which means that the road is shaped while passing and everyone is prepared to make an extra effort when and where needed.
We are used to high activity and work pace, especially when deadline for Sprint delivery approaches. When some long nights of concerted effort are needed to reach the Sprint goal in time, dinner is purchased and jointly consumed before we continue hammering away on the keyboard.
However, the employees at eSmart have recently shown that they can handle more tools than keyboard and mouse. eSmart moved to brand new offices in October, and although this was known well in advance, we still were not able get everything ready before we first stepped into the new location. One mistake was to not include decision of wall colours in a Sprint, so all the walls were delivered with default color – white. Completely harmless, but oh so boring – eSmart are aiming higher than default solutions!
So how do you outdo the default solution in such situations? Well, you put painting and wallpapering on top of the Product Backlog and define a separate Sprint for this. Next, you buy paint and wallpaper, bring appropriate tools from home and do the job yourself. Value-added work can mean many things.
Four weeks is a normal Sprint duration at eSmart, but our Sprint for painting and wallpapering was probably the shortest in history. During a Saturday afternoon and a couple of weekday evenings the job was done.
In the subsequent Sprint Review, the Product Owner made some comments on the resulting work, but only category C (Insignificant) issues. Luckily, no category A (Critical) or category B (Unattractive) issues. Result: Delivery approved!
Overall, this special Sprint was a great success. Employees working together with great enthusiasm is never a bad thing, even on not so everyday tasks.
Welcome to the eSmart:labs. All of us in eSmart will use this blog to post updates that are of interest to our partners, customers and future and former colleagues. In this first post I would like to give you a little update on where we are in the process of building our new business.
eSmart is off on a flying start! Not only are we sitting on the opportunity of a lifetime, but with the support we have received from Innovation Norway and our partners have made it possible to work with full force right from the start. I am sure that with the current pace and the team we have, eSmart will really take off in the next few years.
The idea behind eSmart have come from two important observations, first is the current technological revolution in the electricity distribution grid with AMS, local production and Smart Grid, and the second is the major technological changes occurring in the IT industry that Gartner has chosen to call the Nexus of the Forces. For us in eSmart these two play together and gives us a tremendous opportunity to build a new platform that will revolutionize the industry. In the future we will rely less on historical data for operations as the energy industry has done until now – intelligent prediction based on large amounts of data and handle this in real time will be very important for all stakeholders industry. It is not enough to update legacy systems and build on a platform based on ancient architecture, ancient source and outdated system solutions.
From the beginning, we have had a very good dialogue with Innovation Norway and we have used several of their programs. As part of TINC program, we went to Silicon Valley for a longer stay and worked intensively deep diving into Big Data, real time analytics and cloud solutions and creating relationships and agreements with the right partners. Ensuring that we use the correct forward-looking technology and cooperate closely with technology partners has showed to be very important as we develop the next generation systems. Working closely with our partners has been so important that we opened our first international office in Palo Alto in March this year. This office is located at Innovation Norway In “Innovation house.” Another issue where cooperation with Innovation Norway has been valuable.
We have also entered into a partnership with Sogn og Fjordane Energi, Fredrikstad energy and Big Data Energy Services in Texas and received approval for an R&D project through Innovation Norway with an initial budget of 50 million. This gives us a good start with the right focus in this early phase of eSmart development.
I watch with great anticipation on the further development of eSmart. The system we are developing represent new solutions for the energy industry – both in the Norway and internationally. It is in my opinion very clear that new technologies such as Big Data, Big Data, real time analytics, cloud solutions, mobile platforms and social business is on track to create a new IT revolution and it is on this wave eSmart Systems is now traveling. That this happens at a time where there are also major technological upheavals in the electricy grid through a variety of smart grid initiatives creates the opportunity of a lifetime for us at eSmart.