Co-founder & CEO, ioAirFlow
Solving old problems with new ideas
“I was looking to find novel and innovative ways to solve old problems with new ideas. The fact that it led me back to my passion for environmental action is one of the happier and more fortunate aspects of developing the company,” says ioAirFlow CEO Matt Schaubroeck.
“I had been working in politics for quite some time and then left that to pursue my MBA, which is when I sort of stumbled on entrepreneurship by accident,” shared Matt. The idea that then turned into ioAirFlow had its genesis during a technology commercialization course that Schaubroeck took almost five years ago. Matt and his co-founders spent two years developing the idea, while he also spent time working in technology incubators, economic development agencies, and gaining experience in communications.
ioAirFlow is a data analytics company that helps commercial buildings better understand where their gaps are in terms of their energy efficiency, performance or building health. This is done by placing non-permanent sensors around a building. The sensors then collect data on criteria such as thermal comfort and air quality to determine factors that are helping or hindering people’s comfort or health inside that space.
ioAirFlow’s commitment to helping buildings operate in tandem with their outdoor environments — which is also better for our health — has also been key for clients in the past year. Matt shared that many clients are generally very interested in limiting transmission to airborne infections, and the pandemic COVID increased that interest. The challenge, he says, lies in figuring out how to ensure those outcomes are managed while reducing energy consumption.
“My heart has always been in two spaces,” said Matt. “The first is wanting to have some change or impact, particularly on the energy efficiency side. I’ve always considered myself an environmentalist and saw an opportunity here that was too good to pass up. I come from a place where I have some capacity to give back and so I wanted to try and create something that will hopefully have an impact on a pretty broad scale”.
“Second is just being able to take the environmental message forward and understanding, while I was learning about the building efficiency market and the work energy auditors do, that there was a different way of doing work and that using new technology and data and wireless sensors is allowing a revolution in the way that this industry does work. I’m fortunate that I have an understanding of how new technology can be applied in this space. It’s really been a work of passion for a very, very, long time,” he added.
Matt believes it’s a great time to be in both cleantech and property tech in Canada. There’s synergy as both these industries look to reduce energy consumption. Being in the middle of that venn diagram is very interesting, and there is a deep sense of community in the cleantech industry.
Often, he picks up the phone and has conversations with competitors just to learn about what they’re doing and share what ioAirFlow is doing. He believes there is more than enough work in the sector, and room for everyone to succeed as they work towards a common goal using different approaches.
“I know there are other industries where it’s a lot more cutthroat and the competition is a lot more fierce. We’re able to collaborate and partner with so many other solutions providers, startups and stakeholders, and it’s so encouraging that there is community in the work. That collaboration is pretty unique in this space.”
Matt also shares that he hasn’t had a typical day since the COVID pandemic began, but it can include anything from lots of team meetings, doing development work, reaching out to new partners and clients, and helping to improve the core product.
“What’s interesting about being a start-up CEO is that everyone thinks it’s a glamorous job. What I really do is the stuff that no-one wants to do, but is still essential to the work of the business. No two days are alike,” says Matt.
He also believes in unplugging. His hobbies include running and playing the cello, which he says he values more and more these days. He shares that he hadn’t realized how important it was to have the opportunity to do some of those things during the day to sit back, have no screens in front of you, and not think about work. It’s great for one’s mental health to have hobbies like this.