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Student-run startup takes finalist prize at southeast region's CleanTech Open

Local energy startup BitGrid was recently named a finalist in the southeast region's CleanTech Open, a competition held by a nonprofit of the same name aimed at identifying promising environmental and energy startups. BitGrid won a $20,000 package of cash and in-kind services and advances to the CleanTech Open finals, which will be held November 12 and 13 in San Francisco. The grand prize winner of the San Francisco competition will take home a $200,000 prize.

BitGrid is a web-based platform that digitizes and geotags all assets in an electrical system—the poles, wires, transformers, employees, trucks, and so forth—so that a utility company can easily track actions that are happening in any sector of the grid. If there's an outage, BitGrid helps the company dispatch aid where it is needed, and can quickly direct crews in the field.

The company is in alpha stage at this point; it is working with the American Public Power Association in Crystal City to ensure that "we're not forgetting anything," says BitGrid CEO Charles Taylor. "We'll be beta testing in November."

BitGrid has public utilities in mind as its customers. "City-run utilities are often five employees for 10,000 customers," Taylor says. "They need to have reliable [information] and need to catch up with investor-owned utilities, or IOUs." Locally, Pepco is an IOU; examples of city-run or public power utilities include the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the New York Power Authority, among many others.

The idea for BitGrid came not from a massive power outage but from a business plan competition at George Washington University, where Taylor and cofounder Justin Hyde are studying. Their idea won second place, $25,000 and incubation space at WeWork in Shaw at the competition in April.

BitGrid is building momentum. In addition to receiving a finalist award and heading to San Francisco, the company placed second in the energy category for D.C.'s regional Challenge Cup. Now that its six months at WeWork are up, Taylor, Hyde and cofounders Volker Sorger, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Collin Gutman, partner at Acceleprise and CEO of WorkAmerica, will be moving to their own space in Dupont Circle. 

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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  • BitGrid
    1367 Connecticut Ave NW
    Ste 400
    Washington, DC 20036 Website

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