Home Feature Meet the Techstars Alabama Grad Sparking Innovation Within Electrical Systems

Meet the Techstars Alabama Grad Sparking Innovation Within Electrical Systems

by Maija Ehlinger

Ian Hoppe’s lightbulb moment in the EnergyTech space came while he was working as a journalist. 

He spent six years at the Alabama Media Group, chasing down corruption stories across the country and reporting on regional news from his base in Birmingham. Before entering the media world Hoppe worked as an electrician, a job that took him from oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico to commercial sites across Alabama.

Ian Hoppe

A large portion of his job, Hoppe told Hypepotamus, was collecting real-world data around wire and circuit breakers, or gathering infrared images of equipment. “In a large facility (like a hospital) this process could take months. It was all done on big sheets of paper by hand.” 

Two years ago, while still in the world of journalism, Hoppe said was talking to old co-workers when he realized that the process was still incredibly manual and no one had solved the problem. “The whole process was still on paper and took forever and was rife with errors,” he added. 

Con.doit started after Hoppe spent many nights and weekends working on a solution to streamline the electricity-related data collection process. The idea, he said, was to create a “tablet application that walks someone through all the requisite data in an electrical system, validating the inputs with internal logic all the way.” 

Hoppe calls it building a living model (or a “digital twin”) for facility electrical records.

We applied for Techstars last spring and got in. The rest is history,” Hoppe said.

 

New Spark, New Funding

The Con.doit team graduated in September 2020 from their ‘hometown’ Techstars program, the EnergyTech Accelerator program out of Birmingham.

In April 2021 the team announced a pre-seed round with Atlanta-based Overline, Alabama Futures Fund, and Techstars.

Attracting attention from Southeast investors is particularly exciting for Hoppe. “I’m an advocate for Birmingham, specifically, and the south generally and it’s been really nice to see this place turn around and support us as we grow. Birmingham has seemed on the edge of something great for years now. I’m excited to be on the front edge of the wave when it happens.”

Overline’s team told Hypepotamus they view Hoppe’s unique professional background as an important asset for the startup’s growth.   

“Overline is thrilled to have led the pre-seed financing in Con.doit,” said Michael Cohn, Managing Partner of Overline. “As early-stage investors, we index heavily on the founding team and market when making an investment decision. In the case of Con.doit, they stand out on both fronts. We were immediately enamored with Ian — both his authentic connection to the problem he is building to solve, as an electrical engineer himself and his diverse background as an Emmy Award-winning journalist. And the market is large and ripe for innovation. The Con.doit platform eliminates the last vestiges of paper-based processes in facilities management, while also enabling significant efficiency and performance improvements by electrical contractors and engineers. While it is early, we are very excited about the Con.doit team and what they are building to automate and modernize this massive industry.” 

“We are very excited about the startup scene in Birmingham—it has similar hallmarks to other emerging markets in the Southeast region, which Overline was purpose-built to support,” added Sean O’Brien, Managing Partner of Overline. “Con.doit is our second investment in Birmingham, following our recent investment in Acclinate. We look forward to increasing our presence in and support of the local ecosystem going forward.”

Along with Hoppe, the Con.doit founding team includes Jim Crapia, a veteran in the software engineering space.

 

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