Team Profile: Communificiency

Posted on Monday, July 9, 2012

Team name: Communificiency
Members: Max Webster (YC'12) and Sherwin Yu (YC'12)

The Pitch

Communificiency is a crowdfunding platform that allows businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations to raise money from their communities to finance investments in the energy efficiency of their buildings. 

Sherwin Yu and Max Webster

The Team

Max Webster (CEO) YC ' 12, Political Science

Max is a recent Yale graduate with a passion for sustainability and technology. He has a proven track record for building and leading startups. Most recently he founded and served as Executive Director of Climate Voices, an NGO aimed at raising awareness about the human impacts of climate change, where he built and led a team of 15+, raised funds, and communicated the organization’s mission through giving two TEDx talks and speaking around the world.

Sherwin Yu (CTO) YC '12, Computer Science and Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

Sherwin is an experienced software engineer with a drive to build technologies that combat the most pressing challenges of our generation. Sherwin has interned at Google, led large teams for programming competitions and projects, and worked at Rapleaf, a quickly growing data mining start-up. Sherwin recently turned down job offers at Google and other tech start-ups to start Communificiency.

What problems did you see that led you to develop your venture?
The current lack of investment in energy efficiency for buildings and vehicles is the result of a massive market failure. Basic investments in insulation, HVAC, and lighting can help buildings save up to 40% on energy bills and CO2 emissions. McKinsey has confirmed that the potential market for savings throughout the U.S. is in the billions if not trillions of dollars and President Clinton calls energy efficiency the closest thing to a free lunch in this economy. Despite the obvious economic case for efficiency, there are at least two major barriers to tackle. First, there is a lack of cheap upfront capital. Business and homeowners need immediately available money to finance projects that will take time to pay for themselves. Second, there is a lack of awareness and excitement about efficiency projects and their value.

How is the Communificiency solution different?
Communificiency's novel introduction of crowdfunding to the efficiency market can provide access to cheap capital while also getting both building owners and community members engaged with efficiency. By starting with small businesses that can offer financially and emotionally driven rewards to customers who fund their retrofits, we believe that we can generate interest and excitement around our projects.

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