5 min read

#66: The controller innovator's dilemma

And the hiearchy of needs for CRE, David Energy's approach to DERs, and more
“This is not about theory, this is about getting your feet wet"

—Anand Mecheri

Good morning!

Welcome to Nexus, a newsletter, podcast, membership community, and online school for smart people applying smart building technology—written by James Dice. If you’re new to Nexus, you might want to start here.

Here’s an outline of this week’s newsletter:

  1. 🤔  On my mind this week: “THE” solution
  2. 💡 Insights: Bractlet’s take on the energy management hierarchy of needs, Turntide’s acquisition of Riptide, and David Energy’s DER approach
  3. Brand new stuff: A new pod with Invicara CEO Anand Mecheri
  4. 🧱  Foundations: the role of the Champion
  5. 🌎  Diversions: applying the innovator’s dilemma framework to industrial controllers

If you missed last week’s edition, you can find it here.


1. 🤔 On my mind this week

Last week I posted one of my slides for our Nexus Foundations course on LinkedIn and it went as about as viral as a nerd meme can go.

And it was hilarious how Keith Gipson called this the rolling chair integration. 😂

However, what was most interesting about this is all the different commenters who claim to have “THE” single solution to this problem. And when you look at their products, they’re all different.

What’s that say about our market, folks??

2. 💡 Insights

Only the best smart building resources we consumed this week…


The Hierarchy of Needs for Commercial Real Estate—The team at Bractlet adapted my   energy management hierarchy of needs framework and made it their own, which is fun to see.


Smart Building Insight: Another month of growth—This is the March edition of our friend Joe Aamidor’s highly-recommended newsletter. I clicked on like 15 links.  Among my highlights:

A great interview with David Energy CEO James McGinniss after their $4.1M seed round was announced.

As we integrate more solar and wind into the supply-side of energy, customers on the demand-side need to be much more responsive and flexible because clean energy availability fluctuates. We view DERs as part of the key suite of technologies that will allow us to adopt a highly renewables-dependent grid.


We’ve built a technology platform that integrates with and controls these DERs. As a vertically-integrated company, where we are also the retail electricity and demand response provider, we’re able to leverage those assets directly in the wholesale market and provide our customers cheaper power. We have granular visibility into customer demand, which we can shape in real time using the DERs to be smarter about how to get power from the market.


Historically, to deliver on a DER project you’d need a demand-response provider (like CPower), MACH Energy or Schneider to provide the software to monitor the HVAC system, Geli or Stem would do the battery management, and another company would do the power contracting. We combine all of these roles under one roof, from the demand-response provider to the holistic energy management software platform. When it comes to data silos, the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts. We aim to be a one stop shop for our customers.

Turntide raised another $80M from famous people and announced the acquisition of Riptide.

The acquisition of Riptide's building automation solution will accelerate the development of Turntide's BOS (Building Operating System) platform.

"Today, only the world's largest buildings can access legacy automation systems, but over time all buildings can be intelligently managed. Our acquisition of Riptide will help us democratize automation to buildings of all types and sizes."

This installment of NEXUS is free for everyone. If you would like to get full access to all content, join the NEXUS Pro community. Members get exclusive access to the Nexus Vendor Landscape, monthly events, weekly-ish deep dives, a private chatroom, and all past deep dives.

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3. Brand new stuff

Everything Nexus created this week…


PODCAST—🎧 #041: Anand Mecheri on a toolkit for building Digital Twins

This was a fun conversation that just flowed really well. We covered:

  • Anand’s past companies, all sold to Siemens
  • The problem and opportunity Anand saw in BIM
  • Deeper dive on Invicara
  • Rapid-fire myth-busting on digital twins
  • The question of ontologies and Invicara’s schema-less platform
  • Key differentiators of Twinit.io: a complete kit of parts, a low-code platform for creating solutions, and more


VENDOR UPDATE—Even though the Nexus Vendor Landscape has 150+ vendors on it, I still learn about new companies/products to track every week. Here is this week’s discovery:

David Energy—Part electricity retailer, part analytics and supervisory control provider (see interview above)

4. 🧱 Foundations

Bite-sized learnings for newcomers to the smart buildings industry courtesy of the Nexus Foundations course. To be notified when we launch Cohort 3, join the waitlist here.


This week in Cohort 2, our live workshop featured Erik Ubels on his experiences developing the famous Edge building in Amsterdam. Erik is the epitome of the type of leader we need more of in our industry: The Smart Building Champion.

The role of the Champion is like the captain of a soccer team. The quarterback of a football team. You get the idea. The Champion’s mindset is one of continuous learning, meeting people where they’re at, being the glue between siloed stakeholders, and holistic, long-term thinking.

I think more people can be like Erik, and that’s the reason we created the Foundations course.

5. 🌎  Diversions

Technology resources from outside of the built environment. What might we apply in our industry?


Soft PLCs: The industrial innovator’s dilemma—The battle between protecting the existing business by addressing the customer’s current needs vs. embracing new technologies to cater to future needs is referred to as the “innovator’s dilemma” (made popular by Clayton Christensen). This article takes that battle to industrial controllers.

Soft PLCs - The industrial innovator’s dilemma
”The integration of modern IT tools and practices in OT environments will pave the way for the adoption of soft and virtual PLCs. Modern asset management, software lifecycle management, workload consolidation, containerization and highly distributed / available architectures are just some of the IT tools and practices that OT organizations are adopting which will both enable and be driven by soft and virtual PLC adoption.”

OK, that’s all for this week—thanks for reading Nexus!