We recently caught up with Zach Denning to see what progress he has made.  He developed artificial intelligence software used to optimize climate control in medium-size buildings using existing controls and sensors.  The biggest news is that they are now included in “Cohort 12” in the LAUNCH Accelerator, which puts them in the big leagues of early stage investing.  A small handful of companies are taken into each cohort (seven in Zach’s) and then over 12 weeks hear a number of notable speakers and pitch a series of investors.  

LAUNCH is a gateway to a number of events, classes and meetings that put young companies in the forefront of fundable ventures.  The Accelerator is just one. LAUNCH was founded by Jason Calacanis, founder of Weblogs which he sold to AOL and famous for turning $100,000 in angel investments into $100,000,000 by being early to get into Uber, FitBit, and Dropbox among others.  The LAUNCH Accelerator has invested in over 150 startups, six of which have gone on to achieve valuations over a billion dollars. It is huge for EnerDapt even to be selected to join this group. LAUNCH itself can invest in the companies in its programs and typically invests $25,000 to $1.5 million.  But the big value is getting connected to the premier network of venture investors.

The second big news is that Zach changed the name of the company to Hank, after the AI energy engineer assistant in his software. He felt this was a more memorable and unique brand.   They have a great new website http://www.hank.re.  “Hank” has really caught on as the shorthand for what the company does (“Happy tenants, ridiculous savings”).

Zach was connected to LAUNCH through local LAUNCH members Sonny Mayugba (Red Rabbit Bar among other things) and Brandon Brown with GRIN in Roseville (which does fast-acting influence campaigns) .   Once the connection was made, the door opened to fundraising and customer contacts. Zach is now more focused on mid-size buildings in the 100-300,000 square foot range. These tend to have professional operations managers and many are in REITs.  These companies easily get the opportunity Hank provides. Zach is showing 60+% HVAC savings in these buildings with a 50+% ROI.

The focus is more on closing investments to allow growth to scale right now, but the team is getting more customer projects which build the portfolio of case studies.  The team is still small with 3 core members and a couple part time. The plan is to add 2 more to fill out the sales engineer and business development function once funding is closed.

Thomas Hall


Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStarts Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

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