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An Interview with Seyed Madaeni, the CEO and co-founder of Verse
In our early issues (almost a year ago!), we covered distributive solar and its meteoric rise in commercial and industrial properties which will make up >60% of the projected solar demand by 2024.
Verse, a new startup on the scene, is well-positioned to ride that wave. The company’s software leverages generative AI to simplify and speed the renewable energy procurement process for enterprise customers.
Haven’t heard about the company yet?
Well, Verse has been operating in stealth mode for the past year, and we are thrilled to break the news of its official public launch alongside Business Insider and PR Newswire. We got the inside scoop on Verse from Seyed Madaeni, the CEO.
Seyed is a clean energy executive veteran who was the CEO of AMS, a digital wholesale market bidder software company that was acquired by Fluence. He later helped Fluence with its public IPO ($1B+). Seyed started his career at PG&E and later worked at SolarCity and Tesla’s grid services.
The overall penetration of renewables in the power mix for Fortune 1000 companies remains limited at approximately 5%
The majority of power purchase agreements are executed by a handful of large technology companies like Google and Amazon
Verse is trying to scale and accelerate corporate clean power procurement by developing a software platform that leverages AI to help companies define their goals, design portfolios of clean energy assets to meet those needs, manage the assets, and report on metrics.
At The Gigaton, we help aspiring climate leaders narrow their career focus. Can you share how you found your niche in climate and why you decided to focus on clean energy?
I started my career focused on electrical engineering in undergraduate and graduate school and became fascinated by market efficiency theories and the power grid. This led me to earn a PhD in systems engineering where I developed mathematical models to improve the efficiency of energy markets. My career since then has focused on designing products in this area on a global scale.
I’ve always believed in climate change, and think the challenge of creating markets around energy is a multifaceted problem that is worth spending my career on.
A goal of The Gigaton is to shed light on carbon quantification and help students understand which solutions will move the needle most. How do you quantify the carbon reduction impact of Verse?
Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions help quantify carbon emissions (pst, read more here in our carbon accounting article). At Verse, we are focused on scope 2 emissions related to the consumption of electricity, which represents 20-30% of total global carbon emissions. We measure impact by how many wind, energy, and solar projects we can help deploy with our technology.
What problem are you trying to solve with Verse?
Accessibility. Corporations can buy renewable energy through power purchase agreements that are complex and difficult to execute. 60-70% of these power purchase agreements are from big technology companies that can afford in-house procurement teams and consultants to handle this process. They determine the needs of the company and balance the cost with the carbon emission impact of deploying clean energy.
We believe that clean power should be more accessible to more organizations. They have the opportunity to hit their sustainability goals and save on energy. We are building software that can automatically help customers analyze what they need and help them transact and manage clean power. Instead of using expensive consultants or in-house teams, these customers can pay a subscription for our software.
What is the value proposition of your solution?
The status quo for clean energy procurement is to use in-house procurement teams, expensive consultants, or Excel. Our software helps automate the process and tailor power purchase agreements to customers' needs. For example, a data center company with goals to reduce emissions and maintain the reliability of its sites may choose to procure clean energy technology choices that are more resilient and dispatchable, e.g. energy storage. Verse provides this optionality and also manages these assets in real time to ensure the company’s goals are met.
What makes Verse uniquely positioned to address this opportunity?
We have an incredible leadership team with decades of experience developing technology (software, data decision making, and AI frameworks) combined with managing and buying clean power in corporations. My co-founder, Matt Penfold, was the VP of Commercial at Fluence and the Chief Commercial Officer at Advanced Microgrid Solutions (acquired by Fluence). Ath joins us from his work leading the execution of Amazon's 100% renewable goal. He developed the commercial and contract fallback provisions that have been used in hundreds of PPAs executed globally. Shehzad developed and implemented the Energy Hedging Program and Risk Management Framework for Google’s global energy portfolio of data centers and energy supply. Dane worked with me at Fluence and brings expertise in distilling complex processes into clear journeys and intuitive customer interfaces. Alison led communications at Fluence and has over a decade of experience building cleantech brands. And Nathan, who was previously at Stripe, brings expertise in building intelligent distributed energy systems and financial reporting tools.
Verse was just started less than a year ago. In such early stages, what type of business talent are you hoping to bring on board? What would the ideal candidate look like?
We are an enterprise SaaS company and have a strong spirit of agility where we work closely with each other on problems. Our team is a mix of engineering and non-engineering folks. We need people to focus on product ownership, business strategy, and scalability.
People with an MBA background are great at identifying market segments, translating business ideas into actionable items for engineering teams, commercializing technology, covering business operations, running product management, or developing business intelligence. We value these skill sets that complement the engineers on our team.
Oftentimes, MBA students are graduating with student loans, and may not think an early-stage startup would be the right fit financially for them. What would be your advice to these folks?
When you join a startup, there are a lot of incentives that come from equity. We focus on developing financial packages that are competitive and market rate. I would encourage folks to think about the upside and learning that comes from building a new startup.
And finally, the question we ask in every interview: what gives you hope in the climate crisis?
I started my career at Pacific Gas and Electric on the energy trading desk over 10–12 years ago. It was lonely working on clean energy. When I went to meetups in the city, it felt like if you weren’t working on Facebook, you weren’t cool. But now, climate technology is cool. That gives me hope for the future. We need more bright minds to work on great problems in climate technology.