The very first time I (Scott) met Yodit Stanton, Founder and CEO of OpenSensors, I was coming out of one of the sunny upper floor meeting rooms at Seedcamp on Bonhill Street. She was standing there with a smile listening to something my cofounder Krishna was saying. After introducing myself to Yodit, she leaned in and said, “this is the first conversation I’ve had with an investor who actually understands what we’ve built.”
To be fair, we’re not sure we really understood at all. In fact, when we look at the list of companies that were using OpenSensors when we first invested, they ranged from wine makers on Martha’s Vineyard to industrial crane manufacturers to large architectural firms. What we did understand was that Yodit was a genius, that she had a natural ability to get you to say yes and was gritty. I don’t know if this came from spending time at sea with her family (her father captained a cargo vessel) or if she was just born that way.
We at Crane and Yodit both made the same mistake early on – trying to service ALL of the different types of customers that wanted to take advantage of her high performant and real time solution for managing sensor data. Being a natural entrepreneur, Yodit figured out the biggest ‘hair on fire’ problem that her product could solve for corporates with budget. So she bet the company on workplace monitoring – helping large companies make huge savings on space in their office buildings by providing them with real-time data on how it was used. While saving money is nice, she also helped them to reduce their environmental footprint. Buildings represent 36% of global energy usage and 39% of CO2 emissions.
But none of this mattered in early 2020 as COVID-19 started ravaging every city on the planet. Overnight, nobody was travelling into the office. Over at OpenSensor’s London HQ, Yodit moved into firefighting mode.
For months, OpenSensors worked tirelessly behind the scenes to enable companies to accelerate their move to flexible working once a vaccine was ready. A trend that they had spotted before the pandemic was that workplaces were already starting to provide more flexible schedules and work environments. Many employees (ourselves included) don’t want to go back to an office five days a week. But for people who work in large companies, how can they be assured it is possible to return safely?
Yodit and team have been working with all of the key stakeholders involved in getting people back to the office – facilities management, HR, IT and Finance along with employees to deliver safe, agile and cost-effective work environments. They have learned how occupancy, air quality and conditions can affect the transmission of the virus. OpenSensors tracks humidity, CO2 levels and other data points to guide employers on the optimal capacity to reduce transmission. This month they launched new features to their existing corporate customers enabling their employees to book a desk, have an internal track and trace system and monitor the health of their work environment.
As Yodit likes to say,
“We want every single one of our stakeholders to have the greatest confidence when making critical decisions about their workplace and their employees. We give them the power to make evidence-based decisions. This is no time for guessing, when people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.”
We are excited to announce a further investment in OpenSensors who are transitioning to their next phase as a technology company delivering data-powered workplace transformation solutions. Their technology works seamlessly behind the scenes, to reveal workplace and workforce patterns and conditions that generate the insight required for confident, evidence based decision-making. We are proud of and humbled by the entire OpenSensors team, whose mission is to make human, social, economic and environmental sustainability a reality for every workplace in the world and grateful that we’ve been able to be a small part of their journey.
Scott, Krishna and Richard at Crane