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Lucid: Energy innovation with a startup’s soul

on September 11, 2016

Lucid has been around for 12 years, but the clean tech company still considers itself a nimble, innovative upstart.

The company’s marketing head Ralf VonSosen said that every employee is required to be versatile enough to handle multiple tasks and responsibilities. He added that he has personally done everything from preparing for board meetings to working on the website.

To VonSosen, a start-up is defined by company culture rather than a timeline.

Gavin Platt and Vladi Shunturov started Lucid as students at Oberlin college back in 2004. They noticed how wasteful their fellow students were, leaving lights on and pumping air conditioning in unused rooms. Using his background in environmental studies and computer  science, Shunturov came up with an app called BuildingOS that would let students track their energy usage in real time. Suddenly, students could actually see how much water, electricity and money were being wasted.

The realization led to dorm-wide competitions to see which dorm could cut the most from their energy bills. Some dorms cut their energy use in half, sparking the interest of universities and companies including Google and NASA.

The company now has 500 customers, but VonSosen said it has worked hard to keep the inventive start-up energy that propelled the company 12 years ago.

“Everybody’s here to move the company forward,” said VonSosen. “We leave our pride at the door and tackle whatever needs to be done.”

He said that Oakland’s burgeoning tech scene helps keep that culture alive. “Oakland gives you a little bit of the ‘whatever it takes’ attitude,” said VonSosen.


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