The small white box with a smiley on top seems lost amidst the cables, light bulbs and empty cups of coffee on the wooden table. “Let me introduce you to Ecoisme, the new Shazam of home energy consumption,” says Ivan Pasichnyk. “It monitors your energy expenditure and informs you of potential savings.” Bearded, dressed in a multi-coloured sweater, Pasichnyk is, according to Forbes, one of the best entrepreneurs of his generation.
In the summer of 2013, the mechanical engineer and a friend attended a series of lectures on energy efficiency at the “Tesla Camp” Hackathon in Ukraine. “The trip back to Kiev was slow and uncomfortable, so we talked. And we came up with Ecoisme,” he recalls. After months of testing at their hackerspace, the white box finally became a reality.
“Once connected to a home’s fuse box, Ecoisme analyses energy consumption in detail,” explains IT engineer Oleksandr Diatlov. “The tiniest light bulb is detected so as to draw an in-depth diagnosis.” Ecoisme is, according to its creators, more precise than competitors Smappee or Schneider Electric: it can analyse variations in the consumption of any device, even a kettle whose electricity use changes through the boiling process.
“The team seems to have developed the most advanced system currently available when it comes to recognising plugged-in devices,” confirms Roman Zinchenko, founder of Greencubator, a Ukrainian platform for sustainable innovation. Although it is
“too early to establish a definitive assessment as the team is still in the research and development phase,” Ecoisme should provide users with a clear picture of their energy spending, “with precision that until now was not available to households.”
The system can suggest potential energy savings via smartphone notifications. “If you live away from your ‘babushka’ (grandmother), you could call her to warn that the stove is still on,” Pasichnyk adds.
“We registered Ecoisme in Cracow, Poland, which provides more legal security than Ukraine and better access to the EU market,” says communication officer Maria Korolenko. “Our first Ecoisme device was produced right here with our own 3D printers.”
Things became serious in 2014 when Deutsche Telekom invested €100,000. A crowdfunding campaign on IndieGogo collected a further $67,000. “We were backed by people in the U.S., Western Europe and Scandinavia,” says Diatlov. Ecoisme also impressed Microsoft Ukraine, which selected the start-up from hundreds of applicants for one of 14 residencies in the “1991 Incubator”, a Kiev-based centre fostering Ukrainian IT businesses. As the team now prepares to conquer Western markets, their visits to the hacker space are rare. They signed six contracts with EU-based retailers to ensure wide-spread commercialisation beginning this summer, following a final series of tests.