Spotlight Series - Mysa Smart Thermostats

by Liam Cadigan

by Liam Cadigan

   Mysa has developed a smart thermostat for controlling baseboard heaters right here in NL. The company is trying to help consumers reduce their energy bills by making a smart thermostat which is compatible with high voltage heating systems. They are truly innovating in the smart energy management space right from home. The benefits of smart energy management are numerous in terms of both capability and convenience. When you break down your energy bill the average person spends 60% on space heating.

    And what kind of heating do you use? I was surprised to learn that the methods Canadians use to heat their homes varies mainly by geography. If you live in a jurisdiction with cheap hydro power then electric baseboard heaters are likely a common option. Baseboard, fan blown, and in floor are all considered high voltage heating. Unfortunately, before Mysa there was no great option to control baseboard heaters with a smart thermostat. Why would you want to use a smart thermostat? With a normal thermostat you have to physically enter a room and operate it in order to change the temperature. A smart thermostat allows you to operate the thermostat remotely using your wifi. Better yet with a smart thermostat you can even program it remotely so that heat turns off while you are at work and doesn’t turn back on until you are back home. But if your day stretches longer than you expect and won’t be home for a few hours longer then no problem, you can remotely delay the heat for a few more hours.

    Think of another scenario, you turn on the heat in your basement, go upstairs to bed and then realize you forgot. We are all guilty of being too lazy to get back up at night and turn off the heat. But with a smart thermostat you can do that directly from your phone. This translates into some very real energy savings. It is also extremely environmentally friendly, the International Energy Association estimates that 49% of greenhouse gas reduction targets can be met with increased energy efficiency alone. And this should come as no surprise, we teach children in school to reduce, reuse, and recycle. While there are three R’s the most important is to reduce, because then the other two are not necessary. The same holds true for energy efficiency, simply reducing use is more impactful then using energy from a renewable source, since even renewables have some carbon footprint.

    Clearly, Mysa has developed an innovative product that actually does society a lot of good. So how did the small company bring such an awesome innovation to the world from right here on the rock? It all started when Mysa Co-Founder Joshua Green was voluntarily performing energy audits to help homeowners lower their energy bills and environmental impact. He realized that there was no smart thermostat on the market that was compatible with baseboard heaters. At the same time Josh’s brother Zach was completing an entrepreneurship elective at MUN. Zach and his brother brought the idea to their instructor who recommended that they start a company. From there, the duo participated in as many incubators and entrepreneurship programs as they could. They were involved in the Genesis centre and the Propel ICT accelerator. During this time they spent about a year focusing on technical development before they realized they had to push the business end of their product.

    It was not long before they found a customer, in fact they were getting orders before they even had a real photo of the product on their website. The two co-founders had achieved a fantastic result. They built the Mysa team to its current standing force of 28, that is 28 busy people with a lot of responsibilities to cover. They are developing hardware, coordinating the mass production of this hardware, developing companion software needed to operate the hardware, and performing business development alongside it all.

   The Mysa team has to wear many hats. In order to manage it all, cofounder Zach told me that they try to build a forward thinking culture. In fact, Zach and Josh’s philosophy is that they exist to serve their employees and push their great ideas forward. One of the biggest challenges Mysa faces is developing hardware in an region where it has been seldom done before. There is a very limited resource pool of high volume manufacturing skills within the province and that is one major challenge the Mysa team has had to overcome.


The Mysa team, no hats in sight

The Mysa team, no hats in sight

   But these are all challenges that we can move forward on and overcome, there are several initiatives that Zach believes can really improve the state of hardware development right here in NL. Diverting the flow of talent to other industries by advancing the startup ecosystem in Newfoundland, and making it easier to bring in newcomers who have different expertise and skills than those local to NL will make it easier to get the talent we need here. Global NL is part of this shift bringing mentorship to young and growing startups.

    And where do we need to bring hardware development in order to achieve these goals? Using back of the envelope numbers there are roughly 75 people doing hardware development in Newfoundland right now spread across companies such as WaterLily Turbine, Solace Power, Lemur Motors, and of course Mysa. If we can scale to 300 total it will make it easier to attract talent to a critical mass, and as a result the industry will keep growing. Thinking long term, this could have some serious benefits for the province. As the level of autonomy in manufacturing continues to increase it will make more and more sense to manufacture locally, leading to further economic benefits. The time is now to invest and grow a healthy hardware industry here within the province.



Right: Zachary Green: Co-Founder & COO