March 28, 2012 | Atlanta, GA
With sustainable living becoming a more common concern in homes throughout the country, many people are doing what they can to live greener. However, two recent Georgia Tech graduates are taking these ideas further, thinking big to create ways for major companies to reduce their energy consumption.
Alec Manfre, ME '11, and Matt Lynch, ME '11, have always had an interest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Each focused his undergraduate education on these areas, and, upon graduation, the two college friends decided to embark in business together. With the help of several other Tech engineering alumni they created a brand new energy technology company called Bractlet, for which Manfre is the chief operating officer and Lynch is the chief technical officer.
Manfre in particular is extremely excited about the work that Bractlet has already undertaken. The company is developing a product that will help commercial entities reduce their energy consumption, allowing them to save money and minimize energy demands.
“Significant energy is wasted each year by idle appliances drawing unnecessary power,” said Manfre. “This represents a challenge, but by enabling consumers to manage these appliances and see the power wasted, it is possible to reduce large percentages of electricity waste.”
The real key, as Manfre explains, is consumer control. With Bractlet’s solution, the customer is able to monitor and take control of energy consumption in real time. They will also be able to control the amount of energy used by specific devices with the help of the Smartlet, a device that covers an existing outlet and acts to measure the amount of power being consumed. With the Smartlet, consumers have the ability to turn the outlet off over the web if they feel it’s using too much power, or turn it back on if they need to use it.
In order to begin its work, Bractlet received a generous $40,000 in equity-free seed money from the Chilean government through the Start-Up Chile program. The program selected 154 start-up companies out of over 650 that applied from 33 different countries, so Bractlet’s selection is a clear endorsement of the potential that the business and its product hold. Two of Bractlet’s founding members are currently in Chile for six months to work on the program.
“Chile will provide an ideal environment for Bractlet to fully develop its product and drive company growth,” said Manfre. “The Start-Up Chile incubator will give us both the money and business support needed for Bractlet to become a leader in energy technology.”
Manfre, Lynch and the other Bractlet founders received quite a bit of inspiration for this product while at Tech in a variety of regards, both positive and negative.
“The founding members of Bractlet were inspired by the energy waste we witnessed in the buildings and classrooms at Georgia Tech during low-usage times,” said Manfre. “We believe our product will help minimize this waste and address the growing strain on our energy grids.”
However, the inspiration and success of Bractlet go far deeper than that. All five of the Tech graduates and students on the Bractlet team are a group of close friends that met and bonded through Tech’s chapter of the Delta Chi fraternity. Each one of them believes that the fellowship gained through their fraternity life combined with their vision of the future that Tech gave them are driving the principles that ensure Bractlet’s success.
“Without our education at Georgia Tech, we would not have been able to locate a problem and envision a product to tackle and solve it,” said Manfre. “Not only that, but we believe our Georgia Tech education helped us be selected to participate in the Start-Up Chile program and will be a selling point down the line with future investors.”
The future looks bright for Manfre and the other Bractlet Yellow Jackets, and Bractlet looks to become one of the next big names in energy efficiency. Manfre offers some parting advice to any Tech alumni looking for ways in which they can also make an impact after graduation.
“Our advice would be follow your passion and dream big and out of the ordinary. We could have gone into traditional career paths following graduation, and while starting our own business is risky, we know that we have the potential to change the world around us.”
(This story was provided by the Georgia Tech Young Alumni Council. View the original article here.)