Ironically, South Florida might actually be one of the coldest places in the US – at least when it comes to temperatures inside buildings. There’s no feeling quite like escaping the midday summer heat by stepping into the frigid confines of your office or co-working space.
The problem is that cold air does not come cheap. Not only are ice cold indoor spaces racking up massive electric bills, but they are also having a negative impact on the environment.
Daniel Betts, CEO of Parkland startup Blue Frontier, is making waves in the AC world. Betts and team have developed a system that cools spaces using an ultra-efficient proprietary system that leads to energy reductions of 60-90%.
They’ve got the technical chops required for the job: Betts has a PhD in mechanical engineering as well as an MBA from the University of Florida; CTO Matt Tilghman has a PhD in thermodynamics and heat transfer from Stanford; and President Greg Tropsa and VP of Engineering Matt Graham both have deep operational experience in the energy space.
At the core of Blue Frontier’s business is the technology it has developed. Its system replaces the bulky units that are ubiquitous on South Florida rooftops. “Air conditioning technology really hasn’t changed in over 100 years,” Betts told Refresh Miami.
“It doesn’t really do a good job of keeping us completely comfortable,” he continued, explaining that AC systems have trouble managing both humidity and temperature within a building. Blue Frontier focuses on the outcome of keeping you cool versus the use of fuel.
Crucially, Blue Frontier’s system recharges and stores electricity when it can be sourced from renewable sources like wind turbines – a key AC sustainability issue – or when it is at its lowest cost.
Another important aspect of Blue Frontier is their business model. Currently, commercial AC units are installed when a building is being constructed. According to Betts, contractors choose “the lowest cost system that is compliant.” He hopes to flip the script by eventually offering free Blue Frontier AC units to commercial property owners. They would charge a maintenance cost that is lower than the previous cost of monthly electricity bills. And the outcome would be better both for people inside the building as well as the environment.
For now though, Blue Frontier is focused on developing the best possible product. The team has scaled to eight employees since being founded in 2017. The startup reports that it has raised $5 million, the majority of which is grant funding. Betts hinted at plans to close a $10 million Series A round in the first quarter of next year.
And last week, Blue Frontier won a silver medal as part of the 2021 Most Fundable Companies List, awarded by Pepperdine University’s Graziadio Business School.
Up next for Blue Frontier is “testing the performance of [their] systems in laboratory conditions and finalizing the design for the manufacturing of these units,” said Betts. The goal is to take the units to market by 2023 for a limited release, before potentially deploying the units at scale a few years after that.
Learn more about the AC system Blue Frontier has developed by checking out BlueFrontierAC.com. View the startup’s pitch video for the Pepperdine contest here. Blue Frontier wasn’t the only South Florida startup that made Pepperdine’s Most Fundable list of 16 companies, selected from a pool of more than 3,300 early-stage companies across the nation. Read the story about Neowe and its smart bedpan innovation here.
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