Interview with Jean-Simon Venne, Co-founder and CTO at BrainBox AI

Jean-Simon Venne, Co-founder and CTO at Brainbox AI talks about how they utilize self-adapting AI-based technology to proactively optimize the energy consumption of one of the largest climate change contributors. 

1. Tell us how you came to be the Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer at BrainBox AI. What does being a CTO entail?
In my earlier years, I worked on energy efficiency projects throughout North America and Europe. That’s what first introduced me to HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) technology. After dealing with technology in a multitude of buildings, I decided to find a way to engineer an AI-based commissioning approach to deliver a longer-lasting and more continuous HVAC solution, while also making efficient use of existing building technology to maximize savings. That’s how I ended up co-founding BrainBox AI, a company that is at the forefront of a new era in building automation and a leader in the green building revolution.
I have 25 years of experience in developing and implementing new technology to solve long-standing commercial issues in the fields of telecommunications, biotechnology, and energy-efficiency. So, becoming the Chief Technology Officer of BrainBox AI was the natural next step. Currently, I run the entire development research wing of the company, along with the technological operations.

2. What are some of the unique lessons you have learned from analyzing your customers’ behaviors?
BrainBox AI collects thousands of real-time data points, such as outside temperature, sun/cloud positioning, fan speed, duct pressure, heater status, humidity levels, occupant density, and more. BrainBox AI literally studies your building and learns how it operates, identifies every potential improvement opportunity, and then acts on it. It requires no human intervention and immediately reacts to changes in the built environment to ensure the highest tenant comfort and energy efficiency, at all times.
From collecting all this data and analyzing customer behaviors, one of the more interesting lessons we’ve learnt is that every built environment has its own unique set of habits and behaviors. No two buildings are the same and although there may be some similarities, all buildings have their own personalities.

3. What are the applications or opportunities you seek to have with your product?
We want to save the world. I know how ambitious that sounds. However, we are driven by the fact that 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions originate from buildings and that HVAC systems are responsible for over 50% of those emissions. Without serious intervention, these gases will only continue to rise, having detrimental impacts on our environment.

At BrainBox AI, we are fighting climate change by bringing innovation and cutting-edge artificial intelligence to the built environment, making buildings smarter and greener.

As for future opportunities, the built environment isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. So, with all these buildings popping up, where is the energy for the built world going to come from? With solar panels and wind farms, people are already producing energy but not optimizing it. These types of new energy models are changing the entire equation on how we’re dealing with energy in real estate. But at BrainBox AI, we want to use AI technology to make sure that all this newfound energy for the built world is being utilized in the best possible way.

4. How do you think AI technology is upgrading the marketing sector?
AI technology in marketing is very advanced and already widely implemented. In fact, AI has changed the way marketing works. At BrainBox AI, we often talk about making buildings proactive rather than reactive. Our AI uses the data it collects to predict occupant needs before they actually need it, rather than constantly playing catch-up.
AI technology in the marketing sector does the same thing. Based on search histories, among other factors, AI technology can make educated predictions as to what someone may want. For example, if you’re looking up flights to Florida, advertisements for hotels and activities in Florida may also pop up.
However, AI technology often takes it one step further – not only does it proactively reach out to consumers about their wants and needs, but the technology also attempts to influence what someone may do or want.

5. BrainBox AI recently launched pioneering AI building technology in the UK & Ireland. Can you explain how it will help the real estate operators in reducing energy cost and minimize their carbon emissions?
Back in October 2020, we launched BrainBox AI in the European market, specifically in Italy, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
By using AI to predict a building’s thermal load, BrainBox AI’s technology enables the HVAC system in a building to operate autonomously, in real-time. This produces a saving in total energy costs of up to 25% which is achievable in fewer than 3 months, a 20-40% reduction in carbon footprint and a 60% increase in occupant comfort.
Building operators in the U.K. and Ireland can also see a 50% improvement in HVAC-related operations and maintenance costs.

6. We heard that BrainBox AI just joined forces with Fortune Energy Partners to deliver energy savings by up to 25% to building owners across Texas. Can you tell us a bit more about this partnership?
Fortune Energy Partners is a fantastic company and we are very excited to be partnering with them as our first Master Services Integrator. Fortune Energy Partner’s core mission of ensuring the maximization of HVAC operating efficiency while driving cost savings aligns perfectly with BrainBox AI’s core mission of reducing CO2 emissions in the built environment.

Fortune Energy Partners can now provide its clients in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana with access to the latest energy consumption optimization technologies and enable impactful utility bill savings for building owners.

7. Does BrainBox AI plan to expand itself beyond the platform for automation in real estate to other sectors that may need AI-driven spatial expertise?
Right now, we are focused on real estate, but down the road we would certainly love to expand our expertise. As previously mentioned, as the built environment continues to expand, optimizing that energy will be critical in order to keep carbon emissions down, without charging too much and without sacrificing occupant comfort. Just as we are at the forefront of the new era in building automation, we would like to be at the forefront of energy optimization across the globe.

8. What work-related hacks do you follow to enjoy maximum productivity?
Due to the busy nature of my job, I must manage my time well. A lot of that comes down to my team and communicating efficiently with them. Delegation and trusting your team are crucial!

9. How should we prepare for an AI-centric world?
I think we are already in an AI-centric world. Many people just don’t realize it. AI is in almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives, and it is only going to continue to grow and evolve.

As with all new technologies, making sure there are regulations on what AI can be used for will be crucial. With these accelerating technologies, having a governing body will be instrumental in making sure that there are limitations.

10. Can you tell us about your team and how they support you?
My team is fabulous. My colleagues are here because they genuinely want to be a part of BrainBox AI’s mission. We are a diverse team, coming from a multitude of backgrounds and fields, and each individual brings a crucial skillset to the mix. As I mentioned previously, because of how busy I am, I have to rely heavily on my team. I’m fortunate that I can trust them with tasks and know they will perform to the best of their ability, every single time, it’s all highly collaborative.

11. Please share a recent piece of content (can be a video, podcast, blog, movie, webinar, etc) that resonated the most with you with respect to AI or your work in general?
Although a little older (from 2016), one of the best pieces of AI-related content I have read is called “Deep Learning,” by Ian Goodfellow, Yoshua Bengio and Aaron Courville.

12. What is your go-to strategy that brings technology and the human side of marketing together?
It’s funny, actually, because our marketing team, as of now, does not use AI tools. I spoke earlier about using AI technology for marketing and how there are both pros and cons to it. Marketing is an art and I think you do need a strong balance between the technological aspect of knowing who to target and why, and the human aspect as well. Without utilizing AI, marketing may miss out on many possible consumers. However, without the human aspect, consumers are less likely to feel a connection to a brand or product.

13. What is the one quote that has stayed with you throughout your professional life?
“Keep hoping, keep trying. The sky is the limit.” I’m not sure who said it, but I remember seeing this quote on a poster when I was a teenager. For me, that was a wakeup call. I wanted to reach the sky (in a metaphorical sense) and technology was the way to do that.

Jean-Simon Venne

Bio Jean-Simon Venne, Co-founder and CTO at Brainbox AI :

Jean-Simon Venne is a Co-founder and CTO of BrainBox AI. As a technology expert specializing in the fast and efficient migration of technological innovations to commercial applications, Jean-Simon has over 25 years of experience developing and implementing new technology to solve long-standing commercial issues in the fields of telecommunications, biotechnology, and energy-efficiency. 

Prior to joining BrainBox AI, he was responsible for the successful integration of M2M technology in over 200 Smart Buildings across North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Jean-Simon holds a B.Eng. in Industrial Engineering from École Polytechnique de Montréal and a Certificate in Logistics from the University of Georgia Tech.

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