Interview

AITech Interview with Sam Ramadori, CEO, BrainBox AI

AI Tech Park

Everyone is talking about the need for a scalable solution now, not in 20 years. Brainbox AI has a technology that can be easily deployed on a large scale, and that’s what Brainbox AI is bringing to the table through artificial intelligence.
Read on to find out more!

1. Tell us about your role at Brainbox AI?

My official title is Chief Executive Officer of BrainBox AI, but in such a fast-growing environment, there’s more to it than that. It means a lot of different things at different times. I joined the team when it was relatively small at under 20 people, and it’s at over 140 today. As we’ve deployed globally, my job has taken on the additional role of being an ambassador for how our groundbreaking technology can benefit the built environment.

2. What has the company’s journey in the cleantech/proptech market been like?

BrainBox AI was created in 2017 with the goal of redefining building automation through artificial intelligence to be at the forefront of a green building revolution.

Over the past few years, the public’s discussion on climate change and sustainability has changed dramatically. I think the thing that’s most exciting about us is that we’re coming to the market with a technology that’s both applicable and scalable as it relates to the aforementioned issues. We’re presenting a green solution to one of the biggest factors in climate change, the built environment.
Everyone is talking about the need for a scalable solution now, not in 20 years. We have a technology that can be easily deployed on a large scale, and that’s what we’re bringing to the table through artificial intelligence. That’s pretty exciting! BrainBox AI is impacting buildings around the world, making them smarter and greener than ever before.

We’ve also grown quite a bit. Outside of the growth of our team, we also have:

  • Over 100 million sq.ft impacted by our technology
  • Over 275 buildings are being managed by our technology
  • Over 70 cities impacted by BrainBox AI, across 18 countries
  • Over 90 channel partners across the globe

3. How is technology revolutionizing the way in which the real estate industry is responding to climate change?

Unlike other factors that contribute to climate change such as cars, where you can transition away from fossil fuels it’s much harder to replace buildings at the same scale. It’s more of a situation where you’ve got what you’ve got in terms of building stock. The really exciting thing about our AI technology is you can use it to crack this issue and scale it into the built environment around the world. Just as no two buildings are exactly alike, the solution to make them efficient and more environmentally friendly will differ as well. That’s the great thing about autonomous AI – it can adapt to any building, with a great deal of speed and impact.

We say it all the time here at BrainBox AI – it’s all about speed and impact because we can’t afford to waste any time in the fight against climate change. The real estate sector tends to innovate a little more slowly, and that’s where our technology comes in. We’ve got a solution that’ll help not only move the industry forward with innovative tech but will hopefully spur sector-wide change for the benefit of the planet.

4. What is the role of AI in driving innovation for the HVAC industry?

AI delivers an incredible opportunity to optimize the performance of HVAC systems in buildings, because by their nature, HVAC systems are designed to react to outside conditions. Because of this, they are inefficient by nature. AI allows buildings to be proactive instead, as the system can predict conditions two to six hours into the future in each zone of the building. It’s a real game changer when the system can plan ahead.
When BrainBox AI’s technology teaches HVAC systems to become proactive, rather than reactive, our customers reap huge benefits. Our commercial real estate clients save up to 25% in energy costs, see a 20-40% decrease in the building’s carbon emissions, and have improved occupancy comfort by up to 60%.

5. How is deep learning leading to a better understanding of heating and cooling in buildings?

Believe it or not, 45% of a commercial real estate building’s energy usage typically comes from the HVAC system. Of this energy, 30% of it is wasted, because there is so much data not being accounted for, such as weather patterns and the time of day.

This is where deep learning comes in. Deep learning is transformational – it not only allows the system to make decisions for each part of the building on a very granular level, but the data a deep learning system collects allows for advanced decision making, which leads to the entire system operating on an optimized level.

Ultimately, this will save you money on energy bills, cut your carbon emissions and help to save the planet.

6. Tell us about how BrainBox AI is making its technology available to buildings around the world?

This goes back to the concept of scale and impact. We’ve installed our technology in buildings all around the globe, and the great thing is that it can be installed easily and at a distance. We mentioned previously, we are currently in over 100,000,000 sq.ft in over 70 cities across the globe. Additionally, since we aren’t changing any of the infrastructure of the building or HVAC system with our technology, we can work from the cloud, which is available globally.

We’re not just deploying our solution in developed nations, but developing ones as well, and that’s really exciting. From a financial and climate change perspective, it just makes sense to be able to make a difference in developing regions, and we can also make an impact when it comes to climate change, too.

We also have fantastic partners and resellers across the globe that make this possible. For example, we just received our first order for an installation in Pakistan. We may not have directly targeted Pakistan as a market at first, but our local reseller network identified the building, and the technology is now installed. This is just one of many examples of how this technology can easily make an impact around the world. 

7. In what ways can SaaS-based pricing adoption generate the highest energy cost savings?

We’re in a unique position. There aren’t many SaaS-based companies tackling climate change. When people think of climate change, they’re usually thinking about upgrading their cars or installing solar panels. And everything is based on CapEx. This is fine, but we want to deliver real, tangible value in a way in which the savings you’re getting each month are far greater than the fee we charge. Our returns on investment tend to be in the 200% to 300% range, so to me, it’s just proof that going green can be financially viable, and even lucrative. Those numbers are hard to resist.

8. How are building data privacy and security concerns addressed with Brainbox AI?

This is an excellent question and something we take very seriously. We have to ensure that all of our bases are covered from a cybersecurity perspective. We’ve taken the time to make sure that we are at the forefront of cyber security measures, as well as gone through all necessary certification processes. We’re fortunate that the data BrainBox AI uses isn’t as sensitive as personal data, but security is still one of our top priorities, and we take special care to ensure that this data is safe for our clients.

9. What major developments has the company initiated in recent times?

It’s been a very exciting few months here at BrainBox AI. Following a Series A fundraise BrainBox AI was awarded top honors at the prestigious Tech for Our Planet Challenge at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, designed to spark environmental change and help the world reach its net-zero targets. BrainBox AI is working to build on its autonomous commercial HVAC solution by creating a demand management software that will provide energy and capacity to the grid using artificial intelligence. This comes on the heels of being named one of TIME’s 100 Best Inventions of 2020.

As a key part of the fundraise mentioned above, ABB solidified its partnership with BrainBox AI. That includes a global distribution agreement with the promise of bringing the AI-driven solution to ABB’s existing expansive customer base, creating a meaningful and rapid impact on the environment.

All in all, it’s great to see that the public is taking the climate crisis seriously and is willing to give a chance to new innovations that can help solve the problem

10. What advice would you give to up-and-coming AI-based tech startups, particularly those that are working to take action in the battle against climate change?

We’ve certainly learned quite a bit over these last few years, and I have no doubt we will continue to learn as we go. When you’re in an industry such as ours, you’re a forever student. Educating oneself is part of the fun!  

The first piece of advice I would give, is to simply be passionate. If you’re taking action in the battle against climate change, then you already know time is of the essence. Whether in the AI industry or in a different industry, always put 100% into your work. If your heart leads, your brain will follow.

It’s important to communicate with the sector you’re targeting. In our case, it’s about spreading the word that AI technology can be transformational, especially since it isn’t a well understood technology by many. It’s necessary to invest the time and resources into telling your story to the right people early on.

It’s a really special time to be innovating, especially in the face of such rapid global changes. My advice is to stay committed to your mission and see things through – you never know how you might be able to change the world.

11. How would you describe the work culture at BrainBox AI?

A strong culture is everything to us. We’ve got a fantastic team at BrainBox AI and we were just recognized as one of Canada’s best places to work for today’s youth.

As I previously mentioned, when I started at BrainBox AI there were only about 20 employees. Now we have over 100 more people. For a company growing at the rate we are, it’s important to think about what our mission is and how our company culture and employees reflect it. It’s quite simple, in fact – we want to make buildings part of the climate change solution.

One of our value statements centers on the fact that we tackle big problems. When you’re looking to make a difference on a global scale, and fast, like we are, you need a collaborative and passionate group, and that’s what we’ve got.

As we continue to grow we plan to keep it that way.

12. You’re a fan of the phrase ‘speed and impact’. What does this mean to you and how does it apply to what you’re trying to do with BrainBox AI’s technology?

Unfortunately, it’s abundantly clear where we’re headed from a climate perspective. This battle against climate change is very real and although there are many great organizations and people working towards a solution, time is of the essence.

We need to balance the ingenuity of the technology and the impact it has with the ability to just make it happen in the field. That’s one of the great things about our technology at BrainBox AI.

BrainBox AI can be implemented in buildings within a few hours, without any construction needed. As I mentioned earlier, within the first three months, it can have a 25% reduction in total energy costs and a 20-40% decrease in carbon footprint. We’re able to be innovative but also timely, by creating a solution that can almost immediately help to reduce a building’s environmental impact.

13. What movie or book has inspired you the most in your life and career?

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. I find Douglass to be an incredibly inspiring man, and this book shares his journey with the world. He began his education late and was well behind the “curve” at his age, and yet he still managed to be one of the greatest speakers, orators, writers, and fighters against slavery of his time. Despite the conditions of his upbringing, Douglass persevered and helped to change the course of history.

14. What phone apps can you not live without?

WhatsApp. As the company continues to expand globally, WhatsApp allows me to connect with my colleagues, BrainBox AI’s partners, and our current and future clients. Easy access to communication across the globe is extremely important and WhatsApp enables me to communicate with ease.

For more such updates and perspectives around Digital Innovation, IoT, Data Infrastructure, AI & Cybersecurity, go to AI-Techpark.com.

Sam Ramadori

CEO, BrainBox AI

Sam Ramadori oversees the execution of BrainBox AI’s growth-oriented business plan, leads the senior management team, and manages investor relations. As a sustainability enthusiast, he brings a passion for driving impactful change, particularly towards fighting the climate crisis, which inspires and motivates the team at BrainBox AI to continuously work towards our vision to save the planet with AI.
Sam’s background includes private equity investing and senior management roles, with extensive experience supporting management teams in the development and implementation of their commercialization strategies. Before joining BrainBox AI in 2019, Sam held senior operational, investor, and deal execution roles at private equity firms, including Walter Capital Partners and Brookfield Capital Partners. He has an MBA from the Ivey School of Business as well as degrees in common law and civil law from the University of Ottawa.


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