The UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge engages the community in producing innovative solutions to meet the critical needs of our region’s nonprofits and people. In its second year, UpPrize is the most significantly capitalized social innovation competition focused on improving the quality of life for residents in Southwestern PA. The challenge is organized by The Forbes Funds in collaboration with BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Bridgeway Capital, Comcast Business, UPMC and NEXTpittsburgh. After this cycle, approximately $1 million will have been invested in sustainable solutions proposed by local entrepreneurs and nonprofits.
During the final two weeks of this cycle, we interviewed each of the finalist teams. Our next spotlight features HiberSense. Interview responses provided by Jacob Kring, CEO.
Why did you apply to UpPrize?
We wanted to make an impact. We saw a great opportunity to help the nonprofits in the Pittsburgh area provide improved services to the community and reach more people in need. By being more energy efficient and more automated, nonprofits like Hosanna House in Wilkinsburg are able to focus more of their time and budget on their preschool and daycare.
How did you develop your idea? How will it impact the lives of vulnerable populations in Western PA?
The idea for HiberSense started with a $600 dollar electric bill for Jake (more than his student rent) while at the same time Daniel, the environmentalist, was trying to figure out how to reduce energy waste at home, while also making his home comfortable. Daniel pitched a smart home idea to Jake and Brendan in a senior design class. Brendan developed a business plan for his entrepreneurship class and HiberSense was born shortly thereafter. HiberSense has a unique opportunity to support Western PA nonprofits in achieving their missions through a simple and quick retrofit solution for forced air heating and cooling systems. The Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership has over 500 members and collectively spend over $7.5 million annually on high energy costs. HiberSense can put 20%, that is a whopping $1.5 million, back into the community every year, to help make the Greater Pittsburgh area a better place for everyone.
What have you learned about yourself or your team as a result of the process?
We learned that our goals aligned, we wanted to make an impact here in Pittsburgh, to give back to the community. HiberSense allows us to use our computing and engineering skills to do that in an area that is much needed: energy.
What advice do you have for anyone considering applying to UpPrize?
Doing Good is Great! UpPrize personnel were always available and helpful, so reach out and get help with your entry!
Where can people learn more about your idea?
Anything you'd like to add?
UpPrize is an exciting program, allows the best in people to come out, allows for great solutions that will have an actual impact in the community. Thank you to The Forbes Funds, BNY Mellon, all the sponsors and the people behind the scenes. And thank you, Mom.
HiberSense won $50,000 at the UpPrize Community Showcase on March 30, 2017. To see the rest of the grand prize winners, click here!