The End of Fast Forward’s Summer Accelerator

For the past 2 weeks, WattTime has been gearing up for two exciting Demo Days. In this blog post, we highlight our team’s experiences presenting at both BlackRock and Google.org, sponsors of Fast Forward’s 2015 summer accelerator.

BlackRock is the world’s largest investment firm, with $225 billion in mandates that explicitly address social, ethical or environmental considerations (link). BlackRock is also known for their philanthropy, supporting 20,000 young people all over the world for higher education and 1,942 nonprofit organizations through their programs (link).

We put a lot of preparation into this presentation, and are very thankful to the Fast Forward’s team, who helped us so much with advice, connections, and resources along the way.

Our cofounders Gavin McCormick and Dr. Anna Schneider had a blast practicing their one-liners, conducting interviews and finally presenting in front of BlackRock employees. When asked, “how would you summarize your experience at BlackRock’s Demo Day?”, Gavin says:

“One thing that was very fun was getting to pitch WattTime to a very finance-savvy crowd. Our technology can frankly be pretty complicated! But the folks at BlackRock immediately got it, and even started talking about linear optimization models and the connection to Enron. One even referred to us as the “Enron for good”, which might be my new favorite tag line.”

The center for Google’s philanthropy initiatives, Google.org proclaims “technology for social impact”, a strong initiative to use technology to make the world a better place. Each year, Google.org donates $100,000,000 in grants, 80,000 volunteer hours and $1 billion worth in products to nonprofit organizations doing good in their communities.

One of the biggest achievements was on the morning of Google’s Demo Day, Cofounder and CTO Dr. Anna Schneider and our analysis fellow Sohum had a breakthrough with WattTime’s Impact API. After years of R&D, we’ve finally expanded our real-time power grid analysis from just the largest power grids to every single grid in the continental United States. Get a sneak preview of the map here!

As part of the pitch event on Wednesday night, Google.org announced that they would be giving each of the 9 Fast Forward teams $30,000 AND matching donations from all other gifts that night. What a generous contribution!

When asked how he felt about this announcement, Gavin says:

“This is an amazing offer from Google.org and we are so grateful for their generosity. It was the cherry on top because we received a call from an anonymous donor that same day, also matching donations given that night. Which means, October 7 was an incredibly important night for us, with donations matched triple!”

After a smooth stream of presentations, we asked our team how they felt about the night and WattTime’s progress.

Dr. Anna Schneider, Cofounder and CTO: “Watching everyone pitch on stage, I felt so proud to be included in this cohort of wonderful humans. I’ve seen every single team reach milestones, clarify their vision, and gain confidence in ways that matter to them.”

“Mentors from everywhere from Facebook to BlackRock to TechSoup came up to tell me how excited they were about our progress since we’d met a few short weeks ago. It feels like our team’s hard work is making a real difference!”

Sho Kawano, Business Development: “The Google Demo Day gave me renewed enthusiasm for the potential for tech-nonprofits to enact change on the scale that we yearn for in the nonprofit sector.”

Theresa Zhang, Communications: “It was amazing and inspiring to see so much support and enthusiasm for tech nonprofits like us. All in all, an amazing night!”


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