We're thrilled to have led Neara's Series A round as they leverage their incredible talent to bring infrastructure into the digital world.
What's the problem?
For most of us, infrastructure is invisible until there is a problem. But every year, hundreds of billions of dollars of equipment such as powerlines, underground cables and mobile phone towers needs to be installed, maintained and updated.
That work requires deep understanding of where all the existing equipment is, how it operates, and how it will be affected by things like weather, vegetation and construction.
With recent floods swamping New South Wales, wildfires burning across Australia and California and severe weather events causing Texas to go without power and communications it's clearer than ever that how this work gets done can mean lives lost or saved.
Unfortunately, doing this well is currently slow and expensive. Most networks require an army of contractors to manually inspect powerlines and feed back data to engineers who perform complex one-off analyses to make determinations about how to maintain and grow the network.
What is Neara?
Neara creates a digital twin of an infrastructure network that looks like a futuristic 3D world but is so accurate it can be used for engineering-grade analysis. The idea is that creating a physics engine for infrastructure opens up a vast world of optimisation.
For example, with Neara's platform you can fly over the mountains of New Zealand, zoom in on one individual power pole, see the type of wood it's built from, and understand the effect that wind shear coming from the prevailing weather patterns will have on it over time.
Neara's system is also built to be modular so it can take on any planning, design, or maintenance challenge a utility might have. For instance, it can ingest lidar data and model fire risk from vegetation encroaching on power lines. Here's a customer from Endeavour Energy talking about how the Neara team were able to create a new module to model the effect of the NSW floods on their network within 48 hours. This module can now be made available to any utility with a similar problem.
With this capability, companies running infrastructure networks can save on the billions they spend on maintenance. They can prioritise inspections in the areas that Neara predicts are most likely to fail. They can plan out how to best use new technologies like renewable energy within their systems. They can prevent their networks from causing safety risks and mitigate disasters when they happen.
Right now, Neara works for energy utilities but it is clear that the same approach and platform has a lot to offer many different types of infrastructure.
Neara was founded by software engineer Daniel Danilatos. Dan had previously been part of a team at Google created by Lars Rasmussen, the co-inventor of Google Maps, and went on to co-found Helix Collective, a software consultancy creating MVPs for startups and doing skunkworks for larger companies.
During this time, Dan’s wife founded an engineering consultancy. Dan started to observe the process for planning and designing energy networks and was drawn in by the complexity of the problems and their direct impact on the real world.
Soon, Dan brought in Karamvir Singh, a former software engineer, founder and product leader and later Jack Curtis who had led the charge in the commercialisation of First Solar internationally. Together this team forms a highly complementary core for the group of 25 that are now delivering Neara's software to the energy industry.
Where to now?
Neara is currently seeing strong industry tailwinds. Emerging technologies and climate change are posing new risks to existing business models. Neara’s platform-based approach also enables a strong culture of collaboration with their customers such that they can deliver what utilities really need quickly.
As for the future, Neara's ambition is nothing less than the digitisation of the world's infrastructure. With a strong foothold in Australia and New Zealand, they are expanding to the US and growing their team.
If you're interested in working with one of the best technical teams around that is revolutionising an industry - get in touch here.