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AI-backed asset management startup AiDash kicked off the new year with a $50 million Series C that will help the company accelerate its domestic growth — and potentially outstrip its European competitors.
AiDash has an expanding suite of offerings, like biodiversity monitoring and encroachment management tools (utilized by natural gas developers), but its most successful product is intelligent vegetation management, Turenne told Latitude Media.
“Utilities have wanted to do this for a decade,” he said, but only in recent years have advancements in satellite resolution and artificial intelligence made it possible; National Grid’s initial trial of the software resulted in 90% accuracy.
AIDash’s success so far ultimately comes down to utilities’ desire to save money, he added.
“Software investments are all about digitizing your utility and keeping your costs down,” he said. “There are a number of different software plays that make this happen, but at a high level, software is about monitoring your assets.”
Condition-based maintenance is a more efficient and affordable way to operate, he added, compared to conducting maintenance every two years whether or not the asset needs it.
Software can be a bit of a tricky space to be in, Turenne said, because it's usually a winner-take-all market.
The market for AI for wildfire detection — using satellites to spot smoke once a fire is already underway, for instance — is still relatively new, and relatively crowded. However, wildfire prevention is more mature as a market, and that's the space where AiDash operates.
Ultimately, Turenne said, most newer detection companies are going to run out of cash, leaving only a handful of companies in the field. But AiDash is above that fray. For utilities that use the company’s technology, reducing wildfires is a resulting benefit of the improved vegetation management it enables. This broader appeal have been key in enabling AiDash to grow more quickly than its wildfire detection-focused peers and capture the North American market, Turenne said.
“In Europe there’s a couple of other much smaller competitors that are a couple of years behind, and AiDash is now in the business of trying to take their customers away from them and expand in Europe — that’s why you have the European headquarters being built,” he added.
While funding for hardware and physical projects dominated 2023 raises, Turenne thinks AiDash is perfectly positioned to garner both venture capital and utility support going forward.
“I have met a bunch of these companies trying to do wildfire detection,” he said. “I think they’re interesting and that the technology would probably work, but as an investor I’m interested in companies that can get really large for a good exit — and I don’t see any of those detection companies getting very large because they’re kind of limited.”