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Amper Revamps Energy Consumer Experiences

Set to launch by the end of the year, the team is perfecting their value proposition and user experience.When Akshat Thirani’s off-campus lifestyle was hampered by confusing, “fluctuating” utility bills, he took action and made Amper—a real-time electricity monitoring device. His idea became a reality at Northwestern’s WildHacks. The hardware product, set to launch by the end of the year, allows users to understand the energy use of every appliance of every room.

After assembling a proof of concept and sharing his idea through word-of-mouth, Thirani started attracting investors. With co-founders Sachin Lal and Nikhil Pai, Thirani set out to bring his product to life.

But the team wasn’t ready yet. They were set to work technical magic on their product, but the business component of their start-up needed more work. So they enrolled in the Farley Center’s NUvention: Energy class, where they fleshed out their business model and connected with mentors.

Thirani accredits Mark Johnson of Schneider Electric and and Val Jensen of ComEd as great resources and launching pads for more industry leads. The spread of their network of alumni supporters and mentors grew organically, he said.

Since completing the course, the team has seen success at start-up competitions, such as the Thiel Summit (hosted by Peter Thiel, creator of PayPal and early investor in Facebook) and the MIT Clean Energy Challenge.

Thirani’s biggest lessons in entrepreneurship so far, he said, are: how critical a team’s makeup is to its success, the necessity of listening to users, and “distilling information to people” through clear communication.

Right now, they’re focused on using collected feedback to boost user experience.

“So we sort of understand more about what people care about in their homes and that’s how our idea evolved from more than just energy monitoring,” Thirani said. “Right now, it’s connected to how the appliances in your home are working. So we realize that people don’t just want data – they want more than that. They want to actually care about it.”

To get their users invested, they work on providing actionable information. For instance, Amper might remind a user that he consistently keeps his living room lights on through the night or leaves his garage door open.

“Everything is possible in terms of tech but really defining our value proposition is our biggest priority,” he said.

The team will be working on Amper full time by June and have hopes of being housed in a hardware accelerator in the future.

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