- Buzzy energy startup Arcadia hired ClassPass cofounder Sanjiv Sanghavi in February as part of an effort to scale up the company.
- Arcadia is a digital utility that manages your energy bill and offers ways to access clean energy benefits, regardless of where you live.
- Sanghavi, who was previously the VP of product at office-space startup Knotel, shares his plans for the startup and what to expect in a big update planned for this quarter.
- For more stories like this, sign up here for our weekly energy newsletter, Power Line.
Sanjiv Sanghavi chose a good time to leave Knotel, an office-space startup and WeWork rival, where he was the VP of product. It was last November — well before the coronavirus caused the complete shutdown of offices around the world.
At Knotel, Sanghavi, the cofounder of ClassPass, designed flexible office experiences. Now, as the chief product officer at digital energy startup Arcadia, he’s designing something entirely different: A way for anyone who pays a utility bill to access clean energy and make a positive environmental impact.
What does clean energy have to do with fitness and real estate?
Not much. But that doesn’t really matter when it comes to product design, Sanghavi says.
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“You have to take what you offer and match it to what people are looking for,” he said in an interview with Business Insider from his home in Jersey City, New Jersey. “That problem is the same for Arcadia as it was for ClassPass, as it was for Knotel.”
What Arcadia offers is more choice around home energy usage.
When you sign up, the company starts managing your utility bill, offering a sleek interface and a way to pay your bill by credit card. At the same time, the platform provides users with different options to lower their energy-related carbon footprint, such as by matching their monthly energy usage with renewable energy certificates.
The DC-based startup has shown early signs of success; it’s raised $70 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins spinout fund, G2VP, and it has 400,000 customers across all 50 states. But Sanghavi, who started in late February, has ideas for how to make it better — starting with how the company frames its core offering.
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Options trading What Arcadia is really selling
In an interview with Business Insider last year, the startup’s founder and CEO, Kiran Bhatraju, said Arcadia’s aim is to provide consumers with more options for energy and wake them up to the connection between electricity and emissions.
“Utilities have put customers to sleep for a hundred years,” Bhatraju said. “This a massive old monopoly industry that didn’t give people options.”
The US electric power sector contributes 5% of GDP, amounting to more than $1 trillion, according to the Edison Electric Institute.
Sanghavi describes Arcadia’s product in simpler terms: Access to impact.
“We’ve spent a lot of time with our customers, and what we found is that when they think about Arcadia, it’s not the different types of energy,” Sanghavi said. “The thing that they’re actually buying is the impact.”
The current platform allows customers to match 100% of their monthly energy usage with renewable energy generation, for example, effectively offsetting the carbon emissions related to the electricity flowing into their homes. It also allows consumers in some states to buy into community solar projects. Last year, the electric power sector accounted for about a third of energy-related emissions in the US.
Options trading Building a new user experience
Arcadia is now in a design sprint for a new customer experience based on his team’s research, Sanghavi said. The focus is on making the core offer — access to impact — even simpler, in addition to beefing up the menu of products offered to customers after they sign up.
“So think of choosing renewable energy as an entry fee, and then really thinking about how we can give them even more opportunities,” he said. “How can we make Arcadia the place that they come to have even more impact?”
One example, he said, is providing users with a way to pay an extra dollar or two a month to support the development of clean energy projects like new solar arrays, beyond just offsetting their own energy emissions.
“We’re exploring new ways in which people can choose early on in the funnel to make more impact beyond their own home,” he said. “We’ve been testing those things in the market and people have responded in really interesting ways.”
The revamped platform will also feature some kind of social network, he added. Arcadia customers will be able to share their impact with others, such as how much carbon emissions they eliminate by referring more customers to the platform.
In addition to a new post-sales experience, Sanghavi also said there will be changes to what users experience before they buy anything. They will be presented with more information and options on the platform.
With Sanghavi on board, Arcadia now plans to open a second office in NYC. The startup also recently hired Josh Abrams, a former VP at WeWork and design head at DoorDash, as its SVP of design, who also works out of NYC.
Sanghavi said the company will roll out changes to the platform before the end of September.
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