NDSU Students’ Start-up Business Named a Semifinalist in National Silicon Valley Competition

Fargo, N.D. – The Cleantech Open announced its semifinalists for their internationally-renowned competition, and has announced Fargo’s own start-up business Switch as a semifinalist in the ‘Smart Power, Green Grid and Energy Storage’ category. Teams from around the nation will be traveling to Silicon Valley today to prepare for the world’s largest cleantech accelerator.  The Cleantech Open looks to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today's energy, environmental and economic challenges. Fargo-based Switch was created by Jake Joraanstad, a senior from Rolla, N.D., majoring in computer engineering at North Dakota State University.

“We are extremely pleased to be a part of The Cleantech Open,” said Joraanstad. “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to present the benefits of Switch to leaders in the industry.”

Switch, (http://www.switchincorporated.com/) an energy monitoring and automation software with a completely free and open interface, allows users to access and monitor energy consumption at their home or business with their computer or mobile phone.  Switch provides simple yet elegant reporting tools, interactive graphs, social network sharing and integration, scheduling, automation, and intelligent learning capabilities to give the user a clear picture on energy consumption for the past, present, and future.

“Switch is committed to providing energy consumption data and letting the consumer make the decision on how to monitor their energy,” said Joraanstad.  “Everyone’s needs are different, so homes and businesses will have the ability to remotely prioritize and monitor their energy needs according to their schedules.”    

The Switch product team includes Ben Whittier, a senior in electrical engineering at NDSU from Canby, Minn., and Ross Eickhoff, a junior in electrical engineering at NDSU from Canby, Minn. Other contributors to Switch include NDSU graduates Ryan Raguse and James Dravitz.

Wasted electricity can cost billions of dollars each year, with homeowners and businesses seeking energy management tools to control costs.  According to Parks Associates, a market research and consulting firm, “60 percent of U.S. households will have energy management technologies, deployed by utilities, service providers, or retailers, by 2022.”

In addition to this competition, Joraanstad is also a cofounder and manages Myriad Devices, a successful mobile software solutions company providing phone apps to businesses, located in the NDSU Research & Technology Park.

Joraanstad said the Cleantech Open provides an exceptional opportunity for entrepreneurs. After rigorous preparation, feedback from industry leaders and educational seminars later this summer, Switch will present in front of the judging committee and winners will be announced later this fall.  Semifinalist companies compete for regional prizes that include combined cash and in-kind services worth up to $20,000, with regional winners advancing to compete at the national level for a grand prize of up to $250,000 in cash and services, and an overall prize chest of nearly $1 million.

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