Agile Workflow Enabled Startup BTR Energy to Automate Workflows
Focused on Delivery: Replaced legacy manual spreadsheet process with software that was scalable for BTR Energy and clients. Software manages and records charging events for over 100,000 electric vehicles (EV), while also automating reporting to a California regulator and to BTR Energy’s clients. Built and deployed a client-facing application for streamlining onboarding with BTR Energy’s Bridge platform and the management of EV charging data.
Focused on Results: Software propelled BTR Energy’s evolution from a software-enabled services company to a software-first product company for EV manufacturers and others.
Focused on Partnership: Focused Labs was trusted to serve as the technology arm of BTR Energy and has helped foster direct client relationships to build business-critical software. Developers at Focused Labs have become an integral part of BTR Energy’s success and growth over the last year.
Agile workflow enabled startup BTR Energy to automate workflows
BTR Energy launched in 2019 to provide a platform that automates participation in low carbon fuels programs, like California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). BTR Energy’s platform connects EV manufacturers, fleet operators, and charging station networks to renewable electricity producers in order to generate LCFS “credits”. Together, BTR Energy and its clients use charging data from EVs to make quarterly submissions to the California Air Resources Board and to generate LCFS credits. These credits can be sold, generating revenue for BTR Energy and its clients. BTR Energy keeps a small percentage of this revenue, providing the majority to the EV manufacturers, fleet operators, or charging station networks, and the renewable electricity producers.
Initially, BTR Energy managed all of its data in spreadsheets, but its platform now collects near real-time EV charging data and automatically processes that data and creates the reports necessary to generate LCFS credits, making it possible to manage a much larger amount of data from more and more diverse clients.
The engagement between BTR Energy and Focused Labs started in early 2020. Focused Labs started by automating small parts of the manual spreadsheet based solution BTR Energy was using. BTR Energy understood that this legacy system would not be scalable and would not be able to meet the needs of its clients. As such, Focused Labs set out to build a better way to manage the data, improving and automating and BTR Energy’s engagements with its clients.
Opportunity to evolve and grow BTR Energy’s capabilities
BTR Energy needed scalable ways to catalog, analyze and share large amounts of charging data between EV manufacturers and regulators, while also preserving consumer privacy and a high … of data protection. Spreadsheets could not serve the business, so Focused Labs built the BTR Energy “Bridge” platform, which includes direct integrations with its clients. This makes the transmission of EV charging data much more seamless for both BTR Energy and its clients.
BTR Bridge Platform
- Created a React and Spring Boot-based application to:
- Manage a fleet of over 100,000 electric vehicles (EVs)
- Record charging events for the EV fleet
- Generate quarterly registration and charging submissions for a California regulatory program, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard
- Captured over 8 million unique charging events from 4 different vehicle manufacturers.
- Implemented a PostGIS-backed geo-filtering system that allows performant filtering of hundreds of thousands of charging events against 30,000 public charging stations in California.
Having an app to manage such a large amount of vehicle data and automating its delivery to the relevant regulator made it a valuable asset to both BTR Energy and their clients.
Since the development and deployment of the Bridge platform, BTR Energy has shifted from a software-enabled services business to a software-centric company.
“The software became the business,” says Jack Barrow, CEO of BTR Energy.
Trusting Focused Labs to meet directly with BTR Energy’s clients
Once the BTR Bridge Platform was deployed, BTR Energy needed a technology-forward strategy with its clients. Barrow and his partners at BTR Energy trusted Focused Labs’ technology and people so much that they brought them to collaborative meetings with clients and prospects interested in integrating with BTR Energy’s software. At the time, BTR Energy did not have a full in-house technology team, so Focused Labs developers took on that role.
Trusting an outside company to meet with your clients (especially when the potential client pool is relatively small) is not a role Focused Labs took lightly. “We were looking for technical talent, but also people with the ability to maintain a relationship — and we absolutely got that from Focused Labs,” Barrow says. “We took [Focused Labs co-founders] Austin and Luke to Michigan to meet with one of our largest clients, and they just hit it off with everyone. I think it was helpful for BTR Energy’s credibility.”
BTR Energy’s trust in Focused Labs continues. Two developers from Focused Labs directly work with BTR Energy’s client tech teams to address and manage business needs as they arrive. In addition to fielding the needs of client tech teams, a core responsibility of the Focused Labs team has been the constant improvement of BTR Energy’s security posture. For each integration, a robust security review is conducted by BTR Energy’s clients. BTR Energy trusts Focused Labs to field these reviews and strengthen their security with each subsequent one; BTR Energy is now compliant with hundreds of specific security requirements imposed on it by its clients.
Finally, BTR Energy relied on the Focused Labs team to demonstrate the software’s capabilities to investors during a funding round in August 2021. This demonstration ultimately helped BTR secure those funds and advance the company forward.
“Client and investor presentations are important moments for an early-stage company like BTR Energy. Just as Austin and Luke had made a positive impression on our clients in 2020, Focused Labs engineers made a positive impression on investors in 2021. Enthusiasm for BTR Energy noticeably grew after the presentations, and both investors that met the Focused Labs team ultimately participated in BTR Energy’ Series A, a testament, in part, to the quality of the software and the presentations.”
Building a client-facing app for enhanced experience
Initially, the Bridge platform primarily supported work within BTR Energy — it was more functional than pretty. Once the business grew to work with automakers and their APIs, a client-facing friendly dashboard needed to be built. Focused Labs and BTR Energy collaborated to make and deploy a version of the Bridge platform for its clients.
The Bridge For Clients
Focused Labs developers and BTR Energy worked together to:
- Build a standardized REST API to allow BTR Energy to scale and onboard new clients faster (3 new clients since Summer 2020).
- Iterated on client platform in Spring 2021 to allow BTR to onboard client with new types of electric equipment (charging stations).
- Build and deploy a client-facing dashboard between March and June 2021 to allow clients new visibility into their charging data and the resulting LCFS credits.
- Conducted a thorough demo to potential investors in August 2021 to demonstrate the software’s capabilities during a funding round.
- Planned and executed a deployment infrastructure migration to improve BTR Energy’s security posture and technological independence in October 2021
Making integrations as easy as possible from the client side is paramount to BTR Energy’s business plan. The easier it is for an automaker or other clients to directly onboard with BTR Energy’s applications, the smoother the business relationship will be.
The culture of Focused Labs will be the future of BTR Energy software
BTR Energy has grown significantly during its engagement with Focused Labs. As BTR Energy adapted to client needs, Focused Labs has been there to provide the technology and expertise needed for growth within tight timeframes. Eventually, BTR Energy will hire its own internal software development team, but the standards for building business changing software and doing so quickly will stand as the minimum. Focused Labs’ core practices of pair programming, CI/CD, and test-driven development have laid a foundation that future BTR Energy developers can build on in the years to come.