The HVAC OS: Our Investment in Specifx Data

Apr 24, 2023

Blackhorn Ventures is proud to announce our latest investment in HVAC asset intelligence software provider Specifx Data, with participation from Powerhouse Ventures, Better Ventures, SaaS Ventures, and Soma Capital.

Data is at the core of our belief in the power of digital infrastructure to accelerate decarbonization.  Buildings, a foundational element of our transition to a lower-carbon future, account for 40% of global energy consumption – yet building asset data is still largely a black box – building management is generally left in the dark on the state of maintenance and the useful life of the systems that use the most energy – and are responsible for the lion’s share of emissions. With Specifx, real estate owners and managers now have an operating system that gives them real-time granular visibility into that black box, and helps them understand what’s driving energy consumption and when they should make efficiency upgrades.

While the demand for HVAC systems is expected to triple by 2050, information asymmetry undergirds the relationship between HVAC OEMs, energy management companies, and real estate portfolio owners and managers. In order to rapidly modernize our heating and cooling systems, improve operational efficiencies and reduce emissions, Specifix is building the central operating system (OS) for HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning). Leveraging proprietary algorithms and machine learning, the team of industry veterans have built a best-in-class data enrichment platform to optimize the useful life of assets, facilitating optimal replacement strategies for the oldest, most inefficient, and least cost-effective HVAC assets in large real estate portfolios.

A shift to newer, more energy efficient HVAC systems can cut up to 460 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions globally, but the real estate industry lacks the visibility and insights needed to cost-effectively upgrade their HVAC portfolios.

While traditional building management systems look at energy consumption data in aggregate, they do not provide data granularity into the specifications, features, and/or performance levels of the equipment itself. The result is manual, labor-intensive data collection and poor data quality that makes it difficult to manage day-to-day operations, ensure compliance with ever-growing regulation and plan long-term decarbonization. At the same time, regulations mandating the use of better-performing, energy-efficient HVAC systems and new refrigerants are changing the game. New York Local Law 97, for example, charges building owners a penalty for out-of-compliance HVAC assets, which is worryingly common as owners and property managers don’t have enough insight to act before assets go out of compliance.

Specifx’s operating system provides customers with visibility, context and insights of their entire HVAC portfolio.  Their unique capability enables cost-effective lifecycle planning, resulting in enterprise-scale decarbonization and accurate compliance reporting. Ultimately this leads to more durable, cost-effective HVAC systems that provide cleaner heating and cooling at scale – while helping organizations reduce energy and maintenance over-spend.

Specifx is tackling the HVAC industry’s most pervasive and costly problem: a lack of quality data to drive smart decarbonization and investment planning.  Specifx directly quantifies the economic and environmental inefficiencies of a given portfolio of assets, as well as provides portfolio scale, asset level strategies to mitigate and eliminate waste (such as overspend, environmental impact, etc.).  Data integrity is the foundation of an approach that creates a system of record and layers on tools that capture more of the facilities manager workflow. The Decoder solution democratizes essential HVAC data and enriches traditional CMMS systems that inventory HVAC assets, their Scout product increases the efficiency of traditional facility audits through automation, and the Planner and E-Modeler tools use that data to provide enterprise-scale scenario planning for investment, energy modeling, and decarbonization.

Source: Specifx Data website.

Specfix’s purpose-built HVAC solution improves worker productivity, enhances portfolio-level energy efficiency, and improves economics for an industry that is just beginning its digital transformation journey.

Redpoint Ventures makes a strong case that this is the defining decade of vertical SaaS.  Specifx’ vertically focused SaaS model has a unique opportunity to help the analog HVAC industry enter the digital age by building custom workflow solutions. Specifx is weaving together point applications, such as data capture, cleansing, and insights, underpinned by a common data model within a system of record platform. This not only improves productivity and user experience, but should drive greater market penetration and customer stickiness. Specifix is following in the footsteps of companies like Shopify, Toast, and ServiceTitan – headline vertical SaaS success stories that highlight the value of taking a highly targeted approach within a specific industry vertical.

Source: Precedence Research, 2021

Specifx’ founding team has worked together to revolutionize energy-as-a-service and is poised to transform the HVAC industry.

CEO Ryan Martineau is a two-time founder in the climate technology space, having previously co-founded and led sales and partnerships at Redaptive – a leading Efficiency-as-a-Service provider in the C&I sector. Before joining Martineau at Redaptive, CPO/CSO Pete Shimkus was a Managing Director at CBRE and spent 20 years in commercial real estate, cost consultancy and more. COO Ellie Crowley is also an ex-Redaptive leader where she led all operating activity across Sales & Delivery functions. HVAC industry veteran and Chief Data Officer Ben Patchspent 10+ years acquiring, structuring, coding, and productizing Specifx’s core capability to decode and enrich HVAC asset data before joining forces with the rest of the founding team in August 2022 to form Specifx Data. The team is on the hunt for a world-class CTO with enterprise experience and a track record of executing on the vertical SaaS playbook.  If this describes you, apply here.