Trebellar 1Flourish Blog

Why We Invested in Trebellar: Creating an Operating System for Smart Buildings

Here at 1Flourish Capital, we're always on the lookout for innovative founders with the vision, expertise and character to create new IT-based solutions in potentially explosive growth markets. Commercial Real Estate (CRE) is still in the early stages of the technology innovation cycle, creating a significant opportunity for insightful startups. We are on the hunt for opportunities in this space and are fortunate to have a vast network of talented people who refer other world-class entrepreneurs our way.

We have Honghao Deng, the founder of Butlr, to thank for referring Trebellar to us. Butlr is a 1Flourish company that created a breakthrough, anonymous, people-sensing platform that tracks body temperature/movement and is able to make workplaces safer and more efficient. Butlr is quickly becoming the category leader with top tier customers like Walmart, Verizon, and Uber. The company also partners with other leading CRE technology companies, like Trebellar, to build world class solutions.

We were very intrigued when we met Deigo and David, co-founders at Trebellar, who are tackling a major challenge in managing the growing complexity of data from Internet enabled building and facility devices (“IoT”) that measure building occupancy, security, HVAC, water usage, and power. Trebellar’s solutions simply and powerfully enable property managers to track, optimize and automate the management of all their smart devices in a unified view. The company’s platform has the opportunity to make huge savings in energy usage, building management costs, and employee’s quality of facility experience.

A Dream Team: Founders with Brains and Brawn

Trebellar's story starts with its impressive founders. Diego Ferreiro Val, the CEO, brings a wealth of experience from his long, distinguished tenure as the first engineer and later VP of Infrastructure at Salesforce. Diego was one of the youngest executives at Salesforce and a key product architect. His expertise lies in ingesting data from diverse sources and building customizable dashboards – exactly the skillset needed for Trebellar's core offering. Co-founder and CTO David Quintas boasts deep technical experience from companies like CERN and Google, where he worked on artificial Intelligence and machine learning research.

But smarts are just one piece of the puzzle. We were equally impressed by the founders' character. Diego is committed to a strong culture of transparency and accountability. Diego sends us a detailed monthly report with Trebellar’s wins, losses and learnings. This type of monthly reporting is exceptionally good and rare. Diego and his team commit to and deliver aggressive product and sales timelines, all with a spirit of curiosity, continuous learning and customer commitment.

Solving a Billion-Dollar Problem: Unified Data for Smarter Buildings

Trebellar is tackling a big problem. As Class A office buildings become increasingly equipped with IoT devices – think HVAC systems, occupancy sensors, and security systems – managing the data these systems generate becomes unachievable in real time. Each IoT device typically operates with its own unique data format, requiring expensive custom integrations to achieve a unified view of a building’s activities. This complexity is out of reach or too expensive for almost all building owners and facility managers.

Trebellar's secret sauce lies in its ability to ingest data from multiple sources, regardless of format. The company then normalizes this data and presents actionable insights/recommendations in a user-friendly, customizable dashboard. This empowers property managers to see everything that's happening in their buildings in real-time, from occupancy rates to energy usage. Imagine the cost savings from optimizing HVAC systems based on actual usage patterns, not a 9-to-5 schedule!

A Market Ripe for Disruption

The CRE PropTech market represents a massive opportunity. Trebellar estimates its total addressable market (TAM) at a staggering $250 billion in annual office management spend that could be optimized. This includes energy costs, wasted space due to inefficient utilization, and unnecessary cleaning expenses.

Furthermore, the trend towards remote work creates a compelling need for solutions like Trebellar. Buildings are no longer occupied in a traditional way, and CRE managers need smarter tools to adapt. Additionally, the growing focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors makes energy efficiency a top priority for many corporations. Trebellar provides a clear path to reducing a building's environmental footprint.

Early Traction and Big Plans

Despite being a young company, Trebellar has already secured its first paying customer – a fortune 500 company, which has been very helpful in providing Trebellar key insights/requirements on what it takes to be successful. They installed Trebellar’s solution in one of the largest buildings in San Francisco. Over time, Trebellar sees its solution expanding to all 100 of their buildings globally, representing a significant revenue opportunity.

Why We Invested

We at 1Flourish were impressed by Trebellar on multiple fronts. The team's technical and business expertise, theco-founders significant years of relevant experience in building and delivering excellent products, combined with their commitment to building a high-character company; this is a winning formula! Trebellar’s technology solves a real and growing problem in a massive potential market, and the company has already secured early validation from a key CRE development partner.

While Trebellar faces many significant challenges, particularly in navigating the traditionally slow-to-change PropTech industry, we believe Trebellar is well-positioned to become a leading ProTech solution provider. We're excited and honored to be a part of the company’s journey and look forward to seeing them transform commercial real estate management.

How Do We Build a Better Future with AI?

“AI is the most important thing humanity is working on today."

-Jeff Hinton

AI is a game changer, full of new opportunities and risks. How can we take advantage of the opportunities, simple and massive? How can we predict and minimize the risks, from the mundane to the mind-numbing?

On November 9, 2023, 1Flourish Capital hosted experts from leading AI startups, Meta, Google, Apple, and venture capital firms to explore the challenges and opportunities of responsible AI.

AI is exploding human productivity

Through AI, we can quickly automate tiresome tasks to be completed with greater speed and higher precision, while at a lower cost. Tamas Cser, co-founder of Functionize, shared how Functionize makes software testers up to ten times more productive. Projects that test tens of thousands of views and functions across global geo locations were not feasible before with manual coding, but now can be achieved with AI in hours. Tamas says his own productivity has grown massively with code writing tools like co-pilot. One weekend, he translated a 4000-line Python program to go with the help of AI.

AI can augment human creativity and democratize creativity

Sherol, an AI Research Engineer from a top tech firm, has been working on ways that AI can provide creative leverage for over 10 years. She works on representational alignment for how generative models can better adapt to user intent, and is excited about the ways we can use technology to teach and cultivate creativity in people across diverse communities.

Andrew Laffoon, CEO of Mixbook, has used machine learning for over a decade to help people turn photo libraries into meaningful memories in photobooks. Andrew said that many users get stuck in the process of grouping and naming their photo collections. After recently launching a feature that uses computer vision and LLMs to suggest photo captions, a customer trying to finish a book late at night for a family event said it helped her complete it in minutes instead of days and get the photobook memories delivered just in time for an important family event.

AI opens new areas of attack

Bob Kruse, a security growth lead at Arctic Wolf, warned that AI creates new spaces for bad actors to attack our personal devices, cloud services, and more. The number of vulnerabilities discovered and used without us knowing, or zero-day attacks, is rapidly increasing. Bob strongly recommends that we accept that some people will use AI for harm. We should prepare and monitor for attacks using leading tools such as Revelstoke, which he founded. We should also ensure that AI systems are transparent and accountable.

Will AI be sentient soon?

Tamas quickly noted that it depends on how we define sentient. Machines now learn logic without human supervision and often from data that is AI generated. The size and scale of inputs data and model parameters lead to new forms of logic that the system creators might not understand. AI already hallucinates frequently, showing that AI doesn't have to be sentient as humans in order to arrive at new ideas and conclusions. If AI is used to automate tasks and improve decision-making, we have to be careful that it can’t hallucinate and automatically implement bad decisions.

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be conscious?

Sherol is often asked how we should be using AI. She feels that the question is ultimately about the type of people we want to be as part of human society. That answer should inform how we use the tools we invent, not the other way around.

Let’s work together to drive productivity and creativity that lead to a better future. I hope we are intentional and principled. AI has the potential to solve many of the world's biggest problems and create a better future for everyone. However, we must be on the lookout for bad actors.

Prepare. Not everything you read on the Internet is true.