It’s been just over a month since Buffalo-based startup Trove Predictive Data Science was acquired by E Source, a Colorado company specializing in research and advisory services for utility industry companies.
The two companies might still be in the honeymoon phase, but early on, the partnership Dr. Adam Stotz, Trove Predictive Data Science CTOappears to be one built on trust and an ideal pairing of different capabilities, Trove Chief Technology Officer Dr. Adam Stotz says.
In the early 2010s, while companies were exploring smart grid functionality, electric utilities began a transformation that leveraged location and usage data, similar to what telecoms were doing with mobile location data.
Stotz joined Trove via earlier engagement through CUBRC, a Buffalo-based data science company that partnered with Trove to build its initial software suite. As Trove completed its first round of seed funding around 2014, Stotz took the leap to full time with the startup. And now he sees the acquisition by E Source as the next logical step.
“It’s a marriage of E Source’s domain expertise with Trove’s acute ability to operationalize data and make sense of it on behalf of our clients,” says Stotz. “We’re both very mission-driven companies. Right out of the gate that helps.”
For Trove, that mission includes setting realistic expectations—and always coming through—for their clients and investors. In the early days as a Buffalo high-growth startup, it was a guiding principle for the company’s success.
“We stay very focused on delivering what we promised,” Stotz says. “If we were not built around that premise, we know it would impact revenue and we would be at risk of failure.”
“Our first impression is these are super-smart guys,” E Source CEO Wayne Greenberg says. Fresh off a two-day conference between the two teams’ leadership groups, Greenberg says the organizations have already identified more opportunities to E Source CEO Wayne Greenbergdevelop than they can pursue right now.
E Source is a 34-year-old company that delivers energy-related research and advisory services to companies; their 350 clients make up about 80% of the kilowatt usage in North America, and include large customers like the New York Power Authority.
“It’s a real great cultural alignment,” Greenberg says. “As we evaluated companies and looked at their pedigree as well as their credibility, we [thought that with Trove,] we were getting a company in a really great position at a great time in their evolution.”
Even as the two companies navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, Greenberg says it’s more critical than ever to have Trove’s partnership. Factors like rising utility bills and radical changes in usage because of workforces pivoting must be taken into consideration.
The early partnership with CURBRC helped Trove get rolling. In addition, the company’s relationships with local development incentive programs, like Invest Buffalo Niagara and Launch NY, helped it grow and raise funding. Trove joined Launch NY’s Clean Tech incubator; that’s what positioned them for acquisition, Stotz attests.
To source talent, Trove looks to local universities and education programs, who are helping to create a base of tech talent and development. Trove’s syndicate of investors, including CLEAResult, Itron, CUBRC, and Avista, has supported the company, empowering them to abide through economic challenges, grow capabilities, and expand when it was ready, Stotz adds.
“We wouldn’t have been able to weather some of the downturns we have without the industry guidance; that got us to where we are now,” he says. “It really positioned us to get here, and to recognize when it was time to change hands.”
“For one thing, Trove did exactly what they said they would,” says Tom Martin, Trove’s managing director of product, energy, and utilities. “And two, they used their tools to focus on solving the right problem.”
Martin, a former Pacific Gas and Electric employee now based in Seattle, has a unique perspective on the impact Buffalo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has had on Trove’s growth. Tom Martin, Trove’s managing director of product, energy, and utilitiesHe compared the environment to an early Austin or Detroit in the way organizations have nurtured one another to build a supportive base of knowledge and funding.
“Part of Trove’s continued growth has been through the support from the ecosystem in the state of New York,” Martin says. “We have worked with New York companies which were introduced to us through START-UP NY connections. The whole ecosystem is what helped give Trove some of its boost and some of its lift, by being a part of multiple programs.”
One month into the E Source/Trove partnership, Martin says the companies are still working to come together: Trove bringing its expertise in data science and E Source offering its extensive knowledge of user and customer experience quantitative data.
But even with all the recent changes and success, Trove’s leadership won’t change the principles that got them here.
“Some startups get their little bit of success and their customers get left in the dust as they focus on growth,” Martin said. “Trove has and will continue to stay true in delivering what we promise. Even while going through seed rounds, and growing our business, we made sure to bring all our customers along. Our success is their success.”