Ellen Christopherson is the CEO of clearGRID. clearGRID is focused on data collection and analysis to solve business problems for utility companies. By using technology to replace manual activities with automation, Ellen is paving the way for significant change in the utility industry, one meter at a time.
Ellen Christopherson is proof that age is just a number. At 31 years old she has started two successful companies, earned her private pilots license, and completed her Master’s Degree in Sustainable Energy Technology in Holland.
“After graduating from my Master’s program, I decided to stay in Holland and work in the utilities industry. My job was focused on data and custom software solutions and from there I was able to really understand how the utilities industry works.”
After some convincing from her dad, Ellen decided to move back home to Canada where she started Elevated Robotics, a company that provides UAVs (drones) for surveying, mapping and inspections. The use of these aerial images and video found Ellen back to her utility roots, and she quickly realized that she had a new business solution on her hands.
In 2015, Ellen launched clearGRID. Rather than using drones, clearGRID uses their fleet of aircraft and pilots to fly at 4,500 feet above ground to read utility meters.
Financing from friends and family helped clearGRID get off the ground, however, in 2017 they realized they would need more capital in order to reach new heights.
“It has been hard to find financing for the business if you don’t want to give up everything right away. With most private equity companies and angel investors, you quickly find that everything is owned by someone else. I was strict that I wanted to stay in control of clearGRID. That’s when I came to AWE."
Since receiving a loan from AWE, clearGrid has continued to grow, and has secured a contract with their biggest client, ATCO. They are now working with them to read over one million utility meters per month across the province.
With international expansion on the horizon, clearGRID is showing no signs of slowing down. They now have a team of 20 people, and Ellen plans to expand extensively across North America in the next three to five years.
“My advice to anyone just starting out, especially in the innovation space is that sometimes it takes 100 no’s to get a yes. Keep trying and re-invent your business model with feedback. Everything you do in business is an experiment, not a failure."
To learn more about Ellen and clearGRID, visit cleargrid.io