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Alumni Feature: Rhizome

By Winter Wilson | Joules Accelerator | May 2024


Utilities are spending billions of dollars on new infrastructure to help increase resilience every year. But, according to Mishal Thadani, they are often doing so blindly and without the ability to showcase the real value of those investments.


“This has become a huge sticking point between utilities and their regulators,” Mishal said. “Utilities are having a lot of trouble demonstrating that their investments are actually having an impact on utility customers, and proving the value of resilience for each individual investment that they present in front of their regulators.”


With 12 years of experience in the energy and utility space, Mishal knew first-hand how various technologies could be scaled to enable utilities to tackle climate resiliency. His vision for his startup, Rhizome, included a platform that could seamlessly identify risks and build “hyper-prioritized” investment plans while hitting liability targets, preserving critical infrastructure, and protecting underserved communities.


“At the end of the day, we are putting together comprehensive cost-benefit analyses and impact metrics so that they can demonstrate in front of their regulators and do so in consideration of not only the current state, but the future state of the grid,” Mishal said. With climate change causing more frequent and extreme weather events, these insights become even more important.


Rhizome claims to be the “most comprehensive approach to investment planning for grid reliability and resilience,” according to its website. With more frequent and severe extreme weather events posed to create “unprecedented risk for the power grid,” Mishal and his team designed a platform that can “track, monitor, and report on risk, reliability, resilience and investment performance at system, feeder and customer resolutions.”


In 2023, Rhizome raised $2.5M in venture capital and has since expanded its customers to several major electric utilities across the United States.


“Fundraising in this environment wasn't easy, but ultimately we had to really demonstrate progress to a significant extent before we actually got a number of investors on board,” Mishal said. “So that meant signing two utility customers, demonstrating that utilities will pay to work with us, as well as showing progress from the team, the product, the platform and getting a lot smarter about the market opportunity.”


Rhizome participated in Joules Accelerator’s Cohort 10, where he worked under “stealth mode” to build his venture prior to launching in 2023. For Mishal, the accelerator was key in facilitating those beginning utility relationships that later led to startup growth – it was “a no brainer,” he said.


“When you’re that early, you’re looking for the best resources around to develop an idea into a product,” Mishal said. “I thought Joules was particularly good for those early stages where you need to build a lot of relationships and get feedback from utilities.”


Currently, Mishal is looking to expand delivery to new customers and also hire

machine learning engineers for his team. If you or your team would like to reach out to Mishal and Rhizome, you can reach them through their website at rhizomedata.com.

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