For those unfamiliar with BioHiTech, this really is a story worth looking into. BioHiTech is a $25 million valuation startup (OTC: BHTG) that runs a fleet of food-waste digesters looking to change the world. Well, looking to change the way the world views food-waste and food conservation — which in itself, because BioHiTech has turned food-waste/food conservation into a quantifiable dollar-recapture for enterprises, might ultimately change the world.
The startup recently took a major step towards accomplishing its long-term goal with the announce and launch of its chat bot platform “Alto” – hosted via Slack.
Alto, which has spent ample time in R&D and which has been concept-tested across a number of in-field devices, is a communication platform that pings data queries to digesters. Upon receipt of a data-feedback, Alto proceeds to translate the data-response into multi-line, BI-platform ready, easy to read data-readouts. The readouts, which again are the simplified result of the data query ping, are meant to be read and understood in under three seconds. Think, text messaging; but for machinery that creates operating leverage for those licensing (READ: for machinery that helps licensees remove a flame from currently being underneath their money). I’ve actually seen Alto in use, in real-time — and it’s absolutely incredible.
Beyond the fact that Alto 1) should increase an already industry leading uptime [for the associated digesters pinging data back to Alto], 2) should help both BioHiTech AND the licensee make the digester fleet more efficient in general, 3) should further make visible the already apparent, data-based value-prop of using the digester, and 4) should lead to increased retention and lifetime contract value for BioHiTech [READ: investors this is good for you] — Alto should accelerate the velocity of data-based changes made to operations for licensees AND should allow for drastic reductions to food waste. Let me breakout the fact that Alto should help “accelerate the velocity of data-based changes made to operations for licensees”; because for investors this is going to be a game changer on a go-forward basis (reiterating that BioHiTech is essentially an A/B-round startup that trades on a public exchange). Outside of the technology itself and what it can do for food-waste management and food conservation, this is the platform-add that I’m most excited about when it comes to Alto.
So, if you think about it — there have existed ways to reduce waste, ways to conserve food, and ways to manage inventory to higher degrees off efficiency for a long, long time (to describe them is outside the scope of this Medium but a simple Google search will lead readers down the right path). The problem? The cost/benefit analysis never checks out. There simply isn’t a strong enough value-prop to the endpoint user (usually the enterprise deploying the strategy) to warrant a change in status quo.
That’s where BioHiTech has been able to make a name for itself: BioHiTech has, since day one, provided a quantifiable, data-based value-add to food-waste management, to conserving food, and to risk managing inventory. It’s also been able to drive food conservation and food-waste management to a point that its ability to quantify the underlying value-prop matters; which are two very different but very important things. Because even if you had a quantifiable, benefit-weighted cost/benefit value-prop — it still doesn’t matter if the net benefit doesn’t cross a certain dollar-volume threshold. Clearly, the net benefit BioHiTech creates does.
From the moment I came across the BioHiTech story (and the investment opportunity) I’ve been clear with BioHiTech management: I’m only interested in parts of the story that are quantifiable and that are data-based. All the “other stuff” is for the birds. But what’s great about BioHiTech is that BioHiTech has built its entire business model on data — it doesn’t have any “other stuff”. It doesn’t ask customers to trust it; it simply asks customers to try it; because BioHiTech is convinced (and its digesters prove this out via data) that it can change business outcomes.
Alto will help bring forward the ability for BioHiTech to change business outcomes as well as bring forward the recognition by customers that BioHiTech is changing underlying business outcomes. Both sides of the equation are equally important.
Now, with the ability to real-time monitor the efficiency of each digester, licensees can truly see where weak spots in their operations exist. Now, given that with a simple “text message” (delivered via Slack) a licensee can see which locations are loading more waste than others into the digester, licensees can dial-in inventory management on a per location basis. Now, having an accountability platform (Alto) integrated into a communication and collaboration platform (Slack), licensees can ask efficiency questions from the same app they use to transmit corporate communications.
There are no more hurdles in the way of maximizing the utility of the BioHiTech digesters; and with that, there shouldn’t be any hurdles in the way of 1) BioHiTech continuing to change business outcomes and/or 2) licensees recognizing that this is taking place. I mean, think about what that’s going to do for overall growth, ultimate retention levels, and lifetime contract value per customer. Think about what that does to the BioHiTech investment thesis. Maybe this was the reason BioHiTech was able to secure an engagement with Silicon Valley-famous Tusk Ventures (a consultant to Uber, FanDuel, and many others). Alto is to BioHiTech what the iPhone was to Apple. That might sound sensationalist, and of course we’re not talking about the same scale here, but I really believe that. I believe Alto was the coming out, the making visible, the “I’ve arrived” statement that BioHiTech needed for its digesters to really be able to show its customer base just how much they need the digesters.
What’s interesting is that when we’re talking about BioHiTech we’re talking about a potential food-waste, food-conservation, food-efficiency revolution. One that doesn’t require humanity to drink a paste like substance from industrial plastic containers (here’s looking at you Soylent). But we’re also talking about an idea that makes sense from a capitalistic, dollar-first standpoint — which absolutely has to exist for adoption and proliferation. BioHiTech has both sides of the growth equation covered — it creates a quantifiable value for customers in a meaningful way while also presenting an ecosystem in which that value is evident. I’d like to think that I care so much about BioHiTech because of what its success could ultimately mean for the world; but does it matter if I care about it simply from an investment standpoint? Are the two even separate at this point?
Alto is a game changer for BioHiTech — but it also might be a game changer, ultimately, for those invested in the early rounds. Here’s to hoping it’s both of these things and many more.