Startup of the Day – CSRware

Edited by George Morrison

CSRware is leading the charge to bring Carbon Management to the forefront of Enterprise IT priorities. Our SaaS offering will measure and implement carbon efficient solutions which directly impact overall profitability and competitive advantage.


Interview with Karen Alonardo, Founder of CSRware

How do you feel about being considered the most promising "Company of the Day" by Microsoft?

We are grateful for the consideration. We find it to be validation and acceptance of all that CSRware has worked hard to accomplish. We will use this day as an opportunity to further our mission and passion to help the Enterprise implement a Green IT and Sustainability management solution to measure, benchmark and quantify energy and carbon activities. We believe Microsoft will differentiate us from our competitors with the power of their tools and the launch of our solution on the Azure “cloud computing” platform. Thank you again for the consideration.

How would you describe your company's product and mission?

CSRware partners with business, as well as state and local governments, by providing Green IT and Sustainability Management software and services in supporting the new energy economy. CSRware creates a more integrated, efficient way to quantify, measure and take action on reducing carbon, energy and environmental impacts across the value chain. CSRware tools, deliver an easy-to-use analytics platform to analyze ROI, energy efficient efforts and carbon compliance using custom and industry specific standards and protocols.

CSRware is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) software platform designed to automate data aggregation with sophisticated techniques to actively address inefficiencies related to running a profitable business. The CSRware “Sustainability as a Service” and “Green IT as a Service” modules leverage the power of the CSRware Enterprise Sustainability Management (ESM) Platform to manage climate change risk. Our technology is compliant with GRI, GHG Protocol, World Resource Institute, Carbon Disclosure Project and other relevant standards to address growing global demand for transparency. We do this using a disruptive methodology to simplify measurement and reporting related to clean technology investments and carbon market opportunities. The CSRware centralized repository reconciles data inputs, data ownership, determining what standards to use and finding a common repository to generate real-time results through an easy-to-use role-based dashboard to analyze ROI, energy efficient efforts and carbon compliance using climate protocols and standards.

Our mission statement continues to be, “CSRware is committed to delivering innovative technology to promote environmental sustainability, carbon management and energy efficient solutions to ensure our customers conduct business in way that preserves our resources for future generations.”

Where did the idea for this company come from?

I was continually confronted with energy and capacity limitations while running large data center in the 90’s. With significant strain on the grid and limited resources to expand operations, it became evident more efficient ways of running business was going to be a key indicator of future success. When we talked directly with customers, we had realized a new breed of sustainability professionals were starting to take the lead on addressing these key issues. We recognized quickly there were significant gaps across operational groups to aggregate critical information to determine energy spend, energy usage, carbon emissions and how to strategically tie it together with the overall business economic objectives. Working directly with major Silicon Valley early adopters, CSRware launched in 2006, initiated pilot programs in 2007 and fully launched an Enterprise Sustainability Management Platform with modules to support “Sustainability as a Service” and “Green IT as a Service” in 2008.

What was the genesis of the idea?

After over fifteen years of Information Technology experience, I returned to graduate school to understand how environmental science intersects with the business community. While studying for my Master’s of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM) it became clear the application of sustainability integrated with carbon management technology was necessary in solving our global effort to optimize our natural resources. As climate change continued to take center-stage in Washington, I became very passionate about how to find a way to introduce an analytical application to put a financial valuation on the true cost of running, and conducting business through a comprehensive life cycle analysis.

Impact of externals:

How did you fund the company? VC, Angel, Bootstrap? What is the chronology of funding?

CSRware has been a bootstrap operation. We have come up with creative ways to attract talented individuals, key developers, board members, advisors, and a very experienced management team. The company continues to sustain itself through customer revenue and funds provided by the Founder and CEO.

Are you currently seeking funding? If so, what kind and how much?

Yes, CSRware is looking for a $3M Series A round of funding to expand our market share, hire additional key staff and to expand our product offering on the Microsoft Azure platform. With a qualified funnel, CSRware will take funds to acquire new customers. In addition, we will also staff up operations to support burgeoning customer demand.

What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?

It was important for me to continue my long relationship with Microsoft. While researching Microsoft’s interest in start-up companies, we were fortunate enough to find and be accepted into the BizSpark program. CSRware targets business with a strong customer-base using Microsoft products, so working with Microsoft provides CSRware with credibility as it launches a reputable cloud computing solution to this base. Microsoft has the respect of the Enterprise as a reliable platform provider, something the other cloud providers in the market are still trying to develop.

Product and Market questions:

Describe your offering.

CSRware is offered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. Our “Sustainability as a Service” and “Green IT as a Service” target two specific areas of an organization, Sustainability and IT groups. Our methodology streamlines the process of Sustainability and Green IT carbon reductions and integrates ROI models to analyze critical data to manage corporate profit centers in a new business environment. Rising costs of energy, growing demand for eco-efficient suppliers and the increasing certainty of carbon regulation have catapulted energy efficiency from obscurity to an emerging corporate priority. The CSRware gives corporate executives and managers throughout a company a common platform to monitor, measure, and control cross-functional energy and carbon information using role-based dashboards, reporting and access to an operational portal.

What do you sell and how do you sell it?

We have a three tier pricing model starting with Basic, Standard and Enterprise allowing for a quick turnkey affordable way for our customers to get started and expand as their business demand grows. We believe our new partnership with Microsoft will provide an additional channel, application delivery credibility and provide an on-going set of development tools to continually improve our products for our customer-base.

Do you have any Software IP? More specifically, is there something unique you are doing in the marketplace?

We have filed two patents for our complex algorithms and methodology for how we conduct analysis on carbon and energy utilization. Our unique positioning in the market has allowed us to cross into both the IT and Sustainability space using our domain expertise and technology to differentiate from other competitors in the market.

What would you describe as your "primary" market? Are there any secondary markets you service?

Our primary market is the SMB, division of large enterprise, and state & local government agencies. Our secondary market is the large enterprise, which is advanced in their understanding of carbon usage and its associated impacts across the organization and supply chain.

Do you have a growth plan or strategy? Any plans for Internationalization?

CSRware has seen success working with partners as our early growth strategy. We plan to continue to invest in quality partnerships to expand our reach in North America and into the European and Asian markets. Currently, we have established partnerships with Microsoft, Citrix, VMware and the Uptime Institute to leverage technology and channel development opportunities.

Developer/People Questions:

How many employees do you currently have? How many software developers/engineers?

We have 10 employees of which 7 are developers. To date, our strategy is to continue to partner with consultants with our team focused on development, sales and strategy.

Are you hiring? If so, what kinds of positions?

CSRware is hiring in development, product management, operations and sales.

What technology platforms are you building on? Why? (No taboos)

Currently, the CSRware SaaS product offering resides on an Open Source platform. As cloud computing and other Microsoft development tools continue to lead the market, CSRware has decided to migrate to the Azure architecture to be better positioned to scale our business as market demand continues to expand. The other key business reason we have select Microsoft as our platform choice is for our customers. As we target enterprise customers, Microsoft gives us a more secure scalable system our customers will trust. The current open source platform is a good launch point for us, however as our company progresses, we find the BizSpark accessibility to Microsoft products such as: Dynamics and the Azure architecture, CSRware will be able to quickly scale our features and functionality without the complexity of finding additional open source tools not always readily accepted in the enterprise or government environments.

Color Questions:

Are there any customers or clients you'd like share? References or quotes?

“Bloomberg chose to work with CSRware on this important initiative because of the depth of their software platform analytical and sustainability presentation” said Curtis Ravenel, Global Head, Sustainability Initiatives at Bloomberg.”

According to a large public Company (internet service provider with an extremely complex data center environment): “The CSRware team is a perfect mix of technology and environmental expertise to help set targets, measure impacts and reduce energy spend through their tools”.

Do you have a role model or someone you have looked up to? If someone in particular, whom?

I would start with my mother for her entrepreneurial spirit, and my father for his strong work ethic. As a young person, I also admired Jane Goodall for her passion and persistence in her desire to understand the unknown. I am often drawn to those who do not follow, but those who have the strength and confidence to follow their own internal passion. I often say “do not complain - just find the problem and solve it”. I’ve admired many technology entrepreneurs, sports figures and accomplished scientists who never gave up when things appeared out of reach.

What were some of your previous endeavors before starting this company?

I spent the early years of my career in Information Technology (IT) at Electronic Arts, a video game company in California. While at Electronic Arts in the early 90’s, I was an early adopter of the first version of Microsoft Mail (Network Courier) which later became our worldwide Exchange email platform. From IT, I moved to Production Operations and was one of the first to implement a Cloud/SaaS offering for hosted email in the late 90’s. When I was interested in taking time off to go back to school, I decided to pursue my passion around environmental causes. While working in IT, I recognized long ago we would eventually hit a wall with natural resources as our burgeoning industry took hold, it made me want to learn more about our natural environment and how I might engage to assist companies continue to grow as profitable businesses while preserving resources for future generations. At this point, I went back to school to get my Master‘s in Science in Environmental Management and during this time founded CSRware.

Do you have any advice for young software entrepreneurs?

Be patient, be patient, be patient, take advice, listen more than talk, pick partners you can trust, and enjoy the journey. Also, never give up! Keep your head up, stay focused on your mission and stay true to yourself. If you do the right thing, good things will follow.

Where do you see opportunities today and in the future regarding the Software/Internet arenas?

We see tremendous white space in the application of technology to assist in maintaining and saving our limited supply of natural resources. It is reassuring to see Microsoft investing time and energy in this important category. The Internet will continue to expand, however I do believe the enterprise will respond slowly to the concept of moving all services to the cloud. In the end, a hybrid solution of internal applications and services will offer the best results.

Wrap Up:

Anything else you'd like to add?

I look forward to working with Microsoft to impact change related to climate change and to “do the right thing” for future generations and our own. Our partnership with Microsoft is more than a software relationship, but a belief that investing in environmental sustainability and philanthropic engagements generates jobs, promotes innovation, attracts talent, and reduces the risk of climate change. The Bill Gates Foundation is a great example of Microsoft’s focus on internal environmental sustainability goals as it relates to the future of its business and to our planet.

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