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Digital interaction with Pankaj Chawla, Co-Founder, 75F

Thanks to 5 star ACs, we can have a control temperature environment in any room, while keeping electricity cost low. What about large commercial buildings, and larger rooms? Many a times with a central temperate control unit, you can feel hot in few rooms and cold in few. I had this experience in my previous work place where thanks to sun light, weather and other factors few places were cold and few places where hot. 75F startup has a solution for this problem. They are using cloud computing technology along with IoT to make sure you further reduce your energy costs, and maintain the right temperate at the right place at the right time. To know more about them we approached  Pankaj Chawla , Co-Founder and CTO of 75F.

About Pankaj Chawla

Pankaj Chawla is the Co-Founder and CTO, 75F Global and Managing Director, 75F India based out of Bangalore. Pankaj Chawla worked for over 15 years in the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) industry working on multiple new products for Cadence Design Systems, before the proverbial entrepreneurial bug bit him. In 2012 he joined hands with Deepinder Singh to start 75F and work on building a new approach to solving heating and cooling problems faced by small to medium commercial spaces. Today, as the Co-founder and CTO of the company, Pankaj oversees the technology and design of 75F’s innovative range of products from India. 75F’s R&D was based in Bangalore since it’s inception and was headed by the CTO and Co-Founder Pankaj Chawla. Below is the interaction we had with him over am email.

1) What does 75F stand for? Does it mean the temperature 75 Fahrenheit?

75F stands for 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which was set by the United Nations in 2008 as the optimum temperature in all its offices worldwide. Inspired by this, 75F seeks to deliver optimal comfort while saving the maximum energy.

75F is a leader in building automation segment for commercial buildings in the US and has recently expanded its business operations to India. The company creates solutions that harness the power of IoT (Internet of Things) and cloud computing to predict building’s energy needs and manage them proactively, making buildings more energy-efficient, automated, smart and comfortable.

2) How does 75F make buildingsmore energy-efficient, automated, smart and comfortable?

We understand that every building is a dynamic entity and hence the building intelligence system installed should be dynamic as well. That’s why our smart solutions which harness the power of IoT and cloud computing predict, monitor and manage the needs of a building proactively.

By continuously monitoring a room’s needs, analyzing incoming data, and controlling what goes in and out, our system effectively manages a building’s energy loads. This prevents thermal discomfort by eliminating temperature imbalances, regardless of which heating or cooling system you have. The process saves money and energy – in fact, it saves up to 40% of the total energy costs.

3) How does the solution work?

In response to the key issues with HVAC zone control solutions in the marketplace, we at 75F developed a unique approach called Dynamic Airflow BalancingTM. Leveraging IoT design philosophy and the power of cloud computing, the 75F solution achieves what was once thought to be only theoretically possible – continuous commissioning or perfect air balancing.

Wireless Zone Controllers sense and collect data from the room every minute and send them to the Central Control Unit. Each night cloud computing algorithms analyze thousands of data points, including weather forecast data feed that allows the system to predict future conditions.

A new set of instructions are sent to the Central Control Unit and the dampers are modulated a few degrees at a time to achieve the perfect balance. The system also factors in real time events, such as occupancy, to make instant adjustments to the plan as needed.

4) 75F talks about something that is unique, how did you get your first customer?

While the solution is new and unique, the problem is not and has been a source of frustration for both the facility managers and the occupants for a long time. In a typical building, it’s an everyday problem where occupants keep complaining of hot and cold spots and Facility Managers keep making adjustments which unfortunately pushes the problem to another zone or even cause an increase in energy consumption.

We not only tackled the comfort problem but also brought in energy savings of upto 40% which ensures that it is a win-win for both Facility Managers and occupants. From there on convincing customers was not so hard.

5) What were your priorities of choosing your co-founder?

 This is not truly applicable to me as Deepinder picked me as the Co-Founder rather than the other way. Irrespective, we have known each other for close to 24 years and while he is a hardware genius, I had all along worked on software products and it was a natural ‘coming together’ as the product is a mix of hardware and software which is all developed in house. Before 75F, he was working on another startup called Suntulit which was a similar solution for the US residential market but given the economic downturn in 2009-10, it didn’t do well. Late 2011, Deepinder and I decided to reinitiate the product targeted at the commercial buildings and thus 75F was born in Jan 2012.

6) 75F deals with controlling the HVAC systems, did your 15 years of experience help in this startup?

I worked in Cadence Design Systems for close to 16 years working on new and cutting edge products for the Electronic Design Automation domain. That experience definitely helped me build a critical product thinking that’s really required in a products startup. EDA products in the early 1990s were not exactly known for being very usable and I spearheaded many initiates and teams in Cadence to bring design and user experience perspective into the products and product development processes.

That experience helped immensely in 75F as we were again getting into a domain (HVAC) which was not necessarily known for highly usable products before Nest came in. “Creating frictionless products’ is a lifetime goal and the 16 years of experience in Cadence and now 5 years at 75F definitely helped shape that.

 7) Who is your role model?

Over the period, I have been influenced by many people for different reasons but I don’t have any specific role model.

8) Do you see more startups entering this space?

Yes, definitely. Automation is something that is going to drive the future and IoT, Machine Learning and AI will be the core pieces of this future.

9) Advice to budding entrepreneurs who may venture into this industry?

No specific advice. Everybody has to chalk out their own path. Look around, talk to people and before you dive in think if what you are planning to do is a solution looking for a problem or a true problem looking for a solution. Read more about Indian Startups.

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Digital interaction with Pankaj Chawla, Co-Founder, 75F
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