Enlighted’s CEO Joe Costello Sheds Light on IoT

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Last week, Cleantech Group named Enlighted, Inc. in its 2015 Global Cleantech 100 list. This isn’t the only award the company received for its digital sensor and analytics platform, which has made commercial buildings smarter and greener. Enlighted also received the “North American Company of the Year” Award, which recognizes the highest ranked company in the Global Cleantech 100 list from the region.

Joe Costello
Enlighted CEO Joe Costello

“Everybody is totally stoked,” Enlighted CEO Joe Costello told me. “For the group of people who started this company, this is one of those arrival moments.”

While the award is a prestigious accolade for the company  — especially, this year when Cleantech Group received a record number of nominations for the list — it shouldn’t be a surprise. Yes, Enlighted has a solid product in a growing industry. But the company is also managed by the very forward-thinking Costello, a leader who has helped the Internet evolve from Web pages to light bulbs.

Costello has quite the resume. Before joining Enlighted, he was the CEO of Cadence Design Systems, a design and engineering software company, and Orb Networks, a media-streaming hardware startup. In 1997, Chief Executive Magazine named him the top CEO of America.

But the jobs Costello didn’t get also boost his resume. Steve Jobs talked to him about becoming Apple’s full-time CEO in 1997. Larry Page and Sergey Brin interviewed him for the Google CEO job in 2000. A few years later, Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang and Sequoia Capital’s Mike Moritz considered him before going with Warner Brother’s Terry Semel instead.

You have to believe a guy who was up for some of tech’s hottest jobs would know a good company when he sees it. And with Enlighted he saw it. “I wasn’t looking for Enlighted at all or to be a full-time CEO actually,” he admitted to me. “But I was instantly intrigued.”

Costello believes the Internet of Things (IoT) is “going to be every bit as big as people think, maybe even bigger.” IoT products like Bigbelly, a trash can that tells collection crews when to pick it up, and WiFi connected light bulbs are already improving efficiency and the environment. And, of course, the Nest thermostat has had wide success. According to Costello, more and more “things” will continue to connect and underlying Internet technology will become a feature for products.

Enlightened’s model — to bring IoT to the commercial real estate sector — puts the company in a key position to profit off the growth of two major industries. Costello explained that IoT will evolve like the Internet did at first — every product will be built to connect, just like every product had a Web page at first. People will be interested in some products, like they are interested in some Web pages. Costello believes Enlightened’s product —  a platform that enables businesses to operate more efficiently, effectively, and environmentally — is one people will want.

And he’s right. Enlighted has an incredible list of clients — Google, LinkedIn, and HP — and is focusing to bring its product to public universities and hospitals. In fact, Enlighted plans to announce its first big hospital chain client soon.

“Nurses spend an hour a day looking for equipment,” Costello told me as he explained how Enlightened could benefit hospitals. “With Enlightened’s technology they can spot equipment and track specialists. Once the building has the intelligence, it saves employees time.”

With Enlightened’s success, I had to ask Costello whether he would follow Nest’s lead and sell the company to Google or Apple.

“Never say never to a think like that,” he said laughing.

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