Open Source Monday: Zero-Knowledge Proofs

For the third installment of our “Open Source Monday” blog series, we provide a demonstration and example code of how Zero-Knowledge Proofs can be applied to clean energy applications.

Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs) will be very familiar to blockchain experts and cryptocurrency enthusiasts. As we described last week, there are also non-financial applications for ZKPs in the clean energy sector. 

Imagine that you are an electric vehicle charging station company. You collect data from charging stations that have a huge amount of individual information. You collect and centralize that data for billing and maintenance. Some of the data could even be considered personally identifiable information. That is, time, location, vehicle type, etc. could be pieced together to identify an individual even without having a specific name of a person. 

In summary, your data is valuable. Others ask for it. The local utility wants access to help plan grid upgrades. The local government wants to use it to plan public transportation. Community groups want access to learn the impact on the environment. Do you hand over your data to them? A better approach would be to enable them to ask questions of your data in an anonymized way without you physically transferring the data. Fewer copies means less risk.

As an energy planner (e.g., utility, government, community group) how do I know the data is real if I never see it? This is where ZKPs come in. ZKPs can prove that the data is as expected without having to reveal the actual data itself. 

The video below shows an example of some of the steps to accomplish this. 

What you’ll see is:

  1. Two different “customer” datasets are provided to form a single dataset. Continuing the analogy above, this is like the EV charging station company storing two different customers’ data in the company’s database.
  2. That data is off-chain. A central Oracle creates a non-interactive proof.
  3. The Oracle also converts the proof into an image.
    The data is an array and each value in the array
    is represented by a proof in the form of a grayscale pixel.
  4. A new ZKP verification ERC721 compatible smart contract is created and an NFT of the image is minted.
  5. Using Truffle, a smart contract can be called to execute the validation of data without revealing the identity of the individual.

For our implementation, we take advantage of some recent advances in ZKPs. In particular, many ZKPs rely on some interaction with a prover and a verifier. They ask each other a series of questions to validate the data. Here, we apply an approach inspired by zk-SNARKs. The “N” in SNARK is for Non-Interactive. The genius behind this approach is that all the proof can be provided in a single message to the verifier, eliminating the traditional back and forth. There is a LOT of math behind this which is out of scope for our example. You can learn more about the math and how it works thanks to Zcash. For simplicity in this example (see GitHub), we use a simple hash implementation rather than a full zk-SNARK.

One other addition that we made here is that since the proof is a simple message, we can codify it as an image. We can then mint the image as an NFT. The big advantage of this approach is that proofs are visible to everyone and searchable by anyone on a platform like OpenSea or Coinbase without revealing any individual data. This removes a transaction headache for the data owner. They don’t need a new system or special hosting, etc. to handle inquiries about their data. 

And, the last addition, is that we have an example Polygon smart contract that enables an individual to validate their own dataset. What the validation code enables is that the EV charging company and / or energy planners who incentivize data owners to validate data get greater assurance that the data is real. This is a great use case of data privacy enabled through crypto.

The basic principles here can be applied to many sectors where there is centralized off-chain data, strict data privacy needs, and a need to prove the data is valid. Next week, you’ll see an expansion of this proof to leverage more of the zk-SNARK stack.

Mastery Monday: Why You Should Care About Zero-Knowledge Proofs

This is the second installment of our blog series, “Mastery Monday with VIA” where we share with you some of the inside details of our technology and math in 5 minutes or less. So, are you ready to become a master?

Math impacts everything we do. You never really see the math, but you experience it.

AI is the math that helps us control our TVs with our voice and drive our Teslas. We watch Netflix and listen to Spotify, courtesy of compression algorithms that send more and more data through increasingly crowded bandwidth.

One of the invisible math innovations that is changing the world is Zero-Knowledge Proofs or ZKPs. 

If you’re not familiar with ZKPs, these videos from UCLA Professor Amit Sahai and Up and Atom do an excellent job of explaining the concept easily. We particularly like how Prof. Sahai gets a 5 year old and a 13 year old to repeat back his definition of a ZKP, after he explains it. It’s a testament to great teaching.

So, why should you care about ZKPs?

The short answer is that if you care about privacy and fairness, then you care about ZKPs. It’s the math for you.

For example, ZKPs are used every day by millions of people in bitcoin and other cryptocurrency trading. It’s how two parties who don’t know each other can verify that the right amount of funds were transferred from one to another without the need of an intermediary like a bank. There are other, non-financial uses of ZKPs, as well. 

Given VIA’s mission to enable cleaner, safer, and more equitable communities, let’s use an example from the clean energy sector. VIA blog readers will know that our software platform enables energy data to be analyzed in such a way that an analyst will never see the source data (read more about that here).

This has obvious data privacy benefits to the data owner. Data owners don’t have to physically transfer their data to anyone or let an analyst see it in any way.

But, what about the analysts? How do they know that the data is legit? 

Well, one way is that an analyst could just trust the data owner. That works well if you both know the data owner and believe that they are reputable. For example, if you know the data owner is your public utility, and trust them, then as an analyst, you may say, “the data must be OK.”

What if the data owner isn’t someone you trust? They don’t necessarily have to be “untrustworthy.” You just don’t know them. So, the new energy retailer in your neighborhood, or the EV charging station start-up, or the microgrid operator may be perfectly legitimate. But, how do you know? How can you make sure they are playing fair?

This is where ZKPs come in. You don’t have to know. You don’t have to trust them. With ZKPs, you can mathematically verify that the data stored by the utility corresponds to the data offered to the analyst. Also, ZKPs, given a verifier, enable us to validate that the values of the data provided by the utility are indeed what the verifier is expecting. 

To take the example even further, think about consumer data. Energy is decentralizing rapidly to the individual level (e.g., rooftop solar and EVs). Your energy data is literally personally identifiable information so data privacy is paramount. At the same, you can’t possibly know and trust every other individual consumer as a data owner. ZKPs can address this.

So, is there a ZKP for energy data that energy analysts can use? Stay tuned for next week’s post …


Open Source Monday: Homomorphic Encryption Meets NFT

For the second installment of our “Open Source Monday” blog series, we are offering up a smart contract-based homomorphic encryption example. Check it out below!

Since you’re reading today’s blog, we’re betting you’ll have seen the fun math video we shared last week explaining how homomorphic encryption (HE) works. And, if you’re a long-time VIA follower, you will recall that we first released our own HE library back in 2020*.

Moving from math to code, here is an example of how to use the library using a smart contract. The great thing about this particular example is that you can use a standard ERC-1155 token. 

In summary, here’s what you’ll see:

  1. Two NFTs (bird images) that have one encrypted number each in their metadata.
    a. The NFTs are hosted on IPFS and searchable on OpenSea.
    b. The metadata also includes the public key and a sequence of coordinates on an elliptical curve.
    c. VIA uses NIST-compliant, 2048-bit RSA equivalent, elliptic curve cryptography (ECC).
  2. Polygon is used to create a standard ERC-1155 contract and mint all NFTs. The sum of the encrypted number NFT is represented as a third image (an egg).
  3. For this example, a Polygon scanner was used to enter the encrypted numbers and then sum them with VIA’s HE library. NOTE: In a live setting we would use an Oracle to execute the computation programmatically. 
  4. The encrypted sum gets placed in the metadata of a new NFT and minted. 
  5. The sum can be decrypted by the private key owner as verified by an Oracle.

OpenSea has the NFTs with encrypted data. For everyone’s reference, here are the unencrypted NFTs.

Of course, NFTs don’t have to be the source of the addition. This illustration, however, should resonate with Web3 game designers and NFT minters alike. For example, you could offer treasury chest NFTs based on breeding and only provide the reward, decrypted value, to the owner of the NFT.

You can also substitute another HE library, other than VIA’s, if you prefer. The VIA library has a number of advantages that we described in our original 2020 post.

Some of the key advantages of VIA’s HE library include:

  • NIST-compliant ECC
  • No limit on digits for addition
  • Fixed point calculations
  • Benchmarked as significantly faster than many other HE libraries

Reach out if you’d like to learn more about the VIA library.

Weigh in!

We’re considering hosting an Oracle to enable this functionality in general for anyone on a public blockchain. Would this be of interest to you? If so, Support this post (via LinkedIn) and RT (via Twitter).

*As one update to the 2020 HE post, VIA was issued patents on its homomorphic encryption approach in 2021 and additional patents in February 2022.

Mastery Monday: Homomorphic Encryption

This is the first installment of our blog series, “Mastery Monday with VIA” where we share with you some of the inside details of our technology and math in 5 minutes or less. So, are you ready to become a master?

So, what is homomorphic encryption (HE)? 

HE is a way to compute something without knowing what the numbers are (i.e., keeping them encrypted). For example, adding two numbers or multiplying two numbers and learning the exact result while keeping each of the two input numbers secret.

Why does it matter? 

Unencrypted data is unsafe. With cybersecurity increasing, the last remaining case where data routinely remains unencrypted is during computations. Encryption is already commonly used when data is stored and when it’s sent from one place to another. 

When would you use it? 

Anytime you use math. Which is everywhere. A simple example is a census. I want to know how many people live in a town without knowing how many people live on any single street, in a particular building, or in their own home. AI is all math. So, voice and face recognition while the data is private is a more complicated example.

How does it work?

Check out this less than 4 minute video below! 

Please note: this video was filmed in VIA’s new office space, hence considerable echo. We recommend using the closed captions.

Want to learn more?

VIA holds several issued patents in homomorphic encryption. 

Other details related to VIA’s approach to HE are available from VIA’s earlier blog from 2020.

Next week, we’ll be sharing some code and a use for HE.


Below is a transcript of the “Homomorphic Encryption Explained” video.

Everybody, everywhere is asking about homomorphic encryption.

Said no one ever.

It’s not actually a thing that anyone ever asks about, but it’s super important, nonetheless.

And the reason is because keeping our data safe is super important.

So, the idea that we keep data safe when it’s at rest – that happens. Where the data is not safe is when you actually try to do some math on numbers.

For example, you have some data or information [Becky] and you have some data or information [Sam] and you want to do a comparison.

So, both of you have kitten collectible porcelain statues. And now we want to know which one of you has more without either of you revealing your own number because your porcelain kitten collection data is intensely personal.

[Becky] How did you know? 

[Sam] True.

As a person who’s doing, you know, high academic research, I’m really interested in the total sum of kitty collectors in this world and how many porcelain kitties there are in the world. That’s my thing! I’m super interested in it.

Don’t judge me.

Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to now add up the number of porcelain kitties in your collection [Becky] and the number of porcelain kitties in your collection [Sam]. And Becky, you’re not going to tell Sam how many. And Sam, you’re not going to tell Becky. And neither of you are going to tell me. And, even so, as a world-class researcher, I am going to be able to tell how many there are in the world without knowing either of those things.

And that’s one definition of homomorphic encryption, which is the ability to add up or multiply or divide or subtract or be able do some math without ever actually revealing any individual number.

So, the way that we are going to do that is we’re going to pretend this is my homomorphic encryption specialist device.

It’s actually my calculator on my phone here.

And as an example, what I’m going to do first is type in a number that is only visible to me, the researcher. And to you, the audience, only. So just let’s keep it between us. 

And now, I’m going to pass this to Becky. Add to whatever number I sent you. I want you to type it in and add the number of porcelain kitties that are in your collection.

Now you’re going to pass that to Sam.

Sam, I want you to add how many are in your collection.

Ok, now you’re going to pass it back to me.

And just to be clear, Becky, do you know how many porcelain kitties Sam has?

[Becky] No idea.

[Sam] Do you know how many porcelain kitties Becky has? (shakes head)

And, I don’t know how many they have either individually but I do know that together we have 24 is my guess. But is that true? That’s what I have in my calculator. Let’s see.

Becky, how many were in your collection actually? 

[Becky] 8.

And how many were in your collection?

[Sam] 16.

So 8 and 16, I’m pretty sure is 24. So we got the number! Even though neither of you knew each other’s numbers and I didn’t know what your numbers were.

And, there’s a lot of things you can do together to continue to obfuscate and hide the original numbers.

And we’ll talk later about some use cases.

We have an upcoming piece just on a use case of homomorphic encryption and NFTs in gaming. So, we’ll look forward to sharing some code and why that may be useful next time.

But, here was a little bit of a theory of homomorphic encryption particularly applied to addition.

Thanks for watching!

Open Source Monday: How to Spot Malware in Your NFT

Like the internet and GPS that we use every day, VIA’s data privacy and security platform was first tested at scale by the U.S. Department of Defense.

A major U.S. intelligence agency has been actively testing the ability of VIA’s blockchain platform to detect potential cyber threats to data sources. 

We can’t disclose much that we did in detail. Actually, we can’t disclose anything in detail. After six months and well over 350 tests, there is one insight, however, that we feel is important to share publicly:

It’s ridiculously easy to inject malware into a file that can then be downloaded as an NFT!

As NFTs have exploded in popularity (23% of millennials in the U.S. collect them), adding malware to an NFT is an easy and fast way for malicious users to spread chaos.

So, today, VIA is making a malware check for NFTs code available for free, for anyone: Special thanks to the steganography open source community for their help to create this NFT vulnerability scanner.

This initial version on GitHub has three separate malware checks. There are instructions on how to submit a pull request for you to add your own additional malware checks. If you’re interested in using the code on your website, write to us at

Want to learn more about how hidden text and malware code can be easily transferred when not checked? Watch this 43 second video.

If you’re interested in making the NFT community safer, please share this blog with your networks!

Stay safe out there everyone!

Why Switzerland?

Yes, we love chocolate, cheese, and clean mountain air.
That (alone), however, is not why VIA is spending so much time in Switzerland.
Switzerland is the leader in three areas core to VIA: clean energy, data privacy, and blockchain.

Clean Energy

More than 190 countries around the world have pledged to reduce carbon emissions. Switzerland is one of the few that has legislation, a deadline, and active programs to move towards net zero. Not only is this commitment aligned with VIA’s mission, it enables VIA to actively support the clean energy transition and exactly where that transition is happening the fastest. As part of VIA’s commitment to energy and Switzerland, we’re pleased to have been admitted to the Association of Swiss Electrical Companies last week.

Data Privacy 

Arguably no country in the world has a stronger reputation for data privacy than Switzerland. The laws around data privacy continue to evolve and become stricter over time. By being aware of the leading edge of privacy regulations, VIA’s platform is in a position to support any jurisdiction.


Switzerland’s Crypto Valley is to blockchain what Silicon Valley is to software. With over 1,000 blockchain companies and one of the world’s first countries to enact crypto and blockchain legislation, Switzerland is an ideal location to lead blockchain initiatives. Earlier this year, VIA was admitted to the Swiss Blockchain Federation (see photo below). It’s in everyone’s interest to participate in an active innovation community that also has a clear regulatory framework.

Pictured above at the general assembly of the Swiss Blockchain Federation in Zurich: Ray Neubauer, Expansion Manager at VIA, Markus Riner, Head of Digitalization at VSE (Swiss Association of Electricity Suppliers), and Dr. Fabian Streiff, Head of Economic Development Agency of the Canton of Zurich.

If you’re interested in hearing more about how and why we chose Switzerland as our European headquarters, you can watch this ten minute video with our CEO, Colin Gounden being interviewed by the Swiss Ambassador to the U.S.

The End of Pilot Purgatory

We’re excited to have Andrew Bright, former ABB executive and VIA’s advisor to our Swiss office, contribute to our blog. Read on to hear his commentary on VIA’s GDAC™ Transformers: 3-Minute Pilot, which was recently upgraded to maximize the value of transformer data while minimizing time.

Many industrial digitalization projects suffer from “Pilot Purgatory.” The pilots seemingly take forever and never end because no one can decide if they are a success or a failure. Since the term Pilot Purgatory was first coined a few years ago, much has been written about how to avoid it. However, the vast majority of this advice seems to involve throwing more resources, money and scale at the pilot, until well it no longer looks like a pilot but a full-scale roll-out. The logic is clear if the monthly cost of a pilot project is high enough – no one can afford to let the pilot continue indefinitely. How refreshing then, that VIA has come up with a radically different and frankly opposing approach for avoiding Pilot Purgatory.

Their new GDAC™ Transformers: 3-Minute Pilot takes just 3 minutes to complete once data is gathered. If this were a recipe, you would be allowed up to 27 minutes to source the ingredients and just 3 minutes to do the cooking. Resources, time and money are all minimized. After this experience, VIA hopes to have delivered a valuable summary of the health of one of your transformers. If this has proved insightful, the pilot has been a success, if not then GDAC™ may not be for you. Either way, the pilot will have been concluded.

With their 3-Minute Pilot, VIA aims to demonstrate three specific concepts:

  1. show valuable insights about the health of one transformer and that the math really works;
  2. show that valuable analysis can be conducted whilst keeping data private and confidential; and
  3. provide an educational component about how VIA does what it does. VIA does more than provide recommendations, it also explains why & how a particular recommendation was made.

All three of these components are embedded in the 3-Minute Pilot. If you are interested in performing a full fleet analysis going back say 20 years, that’s more of a project and not the goal of this pilot. VIA’s 3-Minute Pilot is true to the spirit and literal about the term “proof-of-concept.” This seems to be an industry first and given the simplicity and radical reduction in resources, I hope that it becomes an industry standard approach.

VIA note:

If you are interested in learning more about VIA’s GDAC™ Transformers: 3-Minute Pilot and perhaps want to give it a try, feel free to contact us.

VIA’s 3-Minute Pilot provides valuable insights on the health of transformers in just 3 minutes.


End of Year Reflection

As this year comes to a close, we are taking our readers on a journey through 2021 in this 3-part reflection series written by VIA’s co-founders. The series covers the incredible milestones VIA has achieved in laying the foundation for big things ahead in 2022 as we Scale Up!

If any of you are Ted Lasso fans, you’ll know the philosophy that he lives by, “It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about being the very best versions of ourselves that we can be.” This year we definitely had our share of ups and downs. I, personally, am most proud of the positive attitude and resilience that our VIAneers demonstrated this year. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to win too!

This year VIA turned five. It seems like the perfect time to review in “ABC format” a few of our company wins. For D and E, see the blogs of VIA’s CSO, Jeremy Taylor, to learn more about the technical Distance we covered this year and COO, Kate Ravanis, to learn about Employee related milestones. 

A is for Series A. Earlier this year, VIA closed our $10M Series A equity financing round. While cash is always good, we’re privileged to have what we consider to be the premier clean energy fund in North America to lead the round. We also had one of the top 3 largest Silicon Valley-based B2B software companies in the world co-invest. We think quality begets quality. It’s an honor to have this level of support and growth capital to continue to scale VIA. You’ll see investments in our people and technology as we continue to keep up with increased customer demand.

B is for Buildings (and infrastructure). Our mission is to enable cleaner, safer, more equitable communities. Buildings and infrastructure are clearly the biggest physical components of our communities. While infrastructure was in the headlines for almost the entirety of 2021, this is a sector where VIA started to gain traction last year. In 2020, we won a significant contract to support the efficiency and improve the quality of life of a community of 800 buildings by analyzing and monitoring daily the 15,000 associated subsystems (utilities, HVAC, etc.). That expanded this year and in 2022 you’ll see a ten-fold increase in the number of buildings and other critical infrastructure that we support.

C is for Customers. VIA’s customers doubled in 2021 and we are on track to double again in 2022. For our critical infrastructure application, JARVIS™, we were able to add Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida as a customer and in December have a new multi-million dollar award that we will announce fully in January. 

It’s also the most positive endorsement of our value that two of our power customers have not only renewed their contracts but grown from an annual commitment to a three year contract. You’ll see new announcements in the first quarter of 2022 regarding our work with the U.S. Space Force. For obvious reasons, you won’t see anything about work that we won recently with a U.S. intelligence agency. Those are also both great endorsements of VIA’s value proposition: data analytics that’s cyber secure and privacy protected.

This past year was really a breakthrough year from a people, technology, and customer perspective. 2022 will be all about building on that base and continuing to scale. In the meantime, thank you all for your support in creating the solid foundation that VIA has laid. We sincerely wish all of you the very best to you and yours for 2022.


End of Year Reflection
Research and Technology

As this year comes to a close, we are taking our readers on a journey through 2021 in this three-part reflection series written by a variety of VIA’s leaders. The series covers the incredible milestones VIA has achieved in laying the foundation for big things ahead in 2022 as we Scale Up!

In 2021, VIA began to harvest some of the fruits of our research and previous development efforts of years past. We’re proud to share with you our technology accomplishments and what will make 2022 another record breaking year.

Technology Platform: Security and Agility

2021 was a year filled with major accomplishments for our technology platform.

Our VP Architecture, Jesus Cardenes, along with the entire DevSecOps team, pioneered a number of significant security enhancements to our data privacy-preserving analytics platform,  TAC™. In 2020, we released the capability to run TAC™ in a multi-cloud environment and continued to enhance these capabilities this year. In 2021, thanks to a robust container hardening pipeline, VIA celebrated having the first U.S. Department of Defense-wide cybersecurity accredited blockchain application. As part of our cybersecurity accreditation, we ensured that we migrated TAC™ to a Zero Trust Architecture and implemented Least Privilege Principle cybersecurity practices throughout our full product suite.

This year, TAC™ scaled as an application platform and currently supports multiple distinct analytics capabilities. Technical Architect, Ashley DaSilva, and her team put the TAC™ Ingestion Engine into production. This enables applications to orchestrate complex data ingestion and transformation workflows like taking thousands of files and automating their wrangling into an AI-ready database format. Early in 2021, execution auditability was demonstrated by our Technical Architect, John Muddle and his team, and was further developed by fellow Technical Architect, Madjid Aoudia, and his team demonstrating a highly scalable and auditable analytics system for satellite image data. These new features are key enablers for VIA’s full solution range, including VIA Insights Market™, GDAC™ Transformers, SWEET™, and JARVIS™.

There’s a Patent for That

In 2021, we were proud to have been granted our first patents developed by our VP Engineering, Kai Cheung, and fellow collaborators. These initial patents protect innovative technologies for homomorphic encryption and machine learning model evaluation. We also filed three new patents, ranging in scope from encrypted search, decentralized aggregation, and workflow threat mitigation. This brings VIA to a total of more than ten pending patents. We look forward to positive news on several of these filings in 2022. These technologies make TAC™ more secure, improve model execution performance, and lower power consumption. You’ll hear more about our efforts to reduce the carbon intensity of AI in 2022.

Research: Setting the Stage for Big Things

In 2020, we began work with our university research partner HSLU, smart meter manufacturer Landis+Gyr, and the Swiss Federal office of Energy. We finalized our first use cases that will help Distribution System Operators (DSOs) understand how technologies like electric vehicles, solar power generation, and battery storage are driving changes in the Swiss power system. In 2021, the team developed novel privacy-preserving algorithms to detect congestion in power systems, and completed a study of federated learning and model personalization for improved energy consumption forecasting. These technologies are being deployed at the edge, directly on smart meters and will be field tested in the first half of 2022. 

In 2022, we look forward to the start of a research collaboration with the University of British Columbia (UBC) on demand response for grid stabilization. The project will include the development and testing of blockchain-based algorithms for coordination between distributed energy resources across multiple distribution feeders. At VIA, we see this project as the start for a number of avenues of research collaboration into data-driven and privacy-preserving AI solutions for power system stabilization.

With all of our technology advancements in 2021, we were able to meet the needs of our customers, accept prestigious awards, and set the foundation to scale in 2022. The last blog in this series will highlight these major milestones we achieved as a company this year.

End of Year Reflection

As this year comes to a close, we are taking our readers on a journey through 2021 in this three-part reflection series written by a variety of VIA’s leaders. The series covers the incredible milestones VIA has achieved in laying the foundation for big things ahead in 2022 as we Scale Up!

2021 was a big year for us at VIA, so big, we needed three blogs to cover all of our milestones! This first part highlights our team, the VIAneers.

All About That Base

To keep up with our customer growth, we had our biggest year ever for new hires: 16! Our new VIAneers tell us that the onboarding experience when they join VIA is incredibly supportive, inclusive, and engaging – even when remote! In no small part, this is due to the continuous improvements we have been making over the past five years. 

From our founding, our core values have been reinforced day-to-day through a cohesive program of supporting processes. These ranged from six monthly offsites, formal mentorship programs, awards and incentives, learning and development, and structured feedback. With a hugely diverse team (e.g., we have 17 nationalities across 39 people around the world) we believe that systematic reinforcement of values has created the base necessary for a scalable organization. 

Our VP, People and Operations, Emma Fechney, deserves a huge shout out for instantiating our commitment to values into a successful system over the past several years. Emma took our theory of the case about the importance of mission, values, and diversity and built a program that we scaled and has an impact every day. In 2021, we branded this program the “VIAneers’ Experience Program.”

Great Support for Great People

A big milestone for VIA in 2021 was raising our Series A. We were genuinely surprised, in the best possible way, to hear from several investors during the diligence process that our “people processes” are on par with IPO-ing companies. 

Unsurprisingly, the first investment we made was in people, in particular, the kind who take care of others. Emma’s People and Operations team grew to include Felice Sicoli, our talent acquisition extraordinaire. Felice has helped shape our candidate experience and ultimately led us to our biggest recruitment year. Angelica Novoa, also joined this year as People and Operations Partner. Angelica joined us through a recommendation of a current VIAneer, Jonathan Chirwa. Referrals of friends are the best possible validation of our company culture and experience – and Angelica has proven this with her thoughtful contributions from day one! Both Felice and Angelica have been instrumental in enhancing and systematizing our onboarding experience.

Welcoming Felice and Angelica has yielded 16 new people to accept offers with us in 2021 while maintaining consistency in quality. Fewer than 1% of applicants ever get an offer at VIA. As one of our technical VIAneers, Antoine Dozois, says when he assesses candidates, “It’s not enough for candidates to be ‘good.’ They have to be ‘VIA Good.’”

A highlight of 2021, was our first hybrid (virtual and in person) company event, called Power Up Week. While we have a long history of assembling our company together weekly through “All Hands” video conferences and bi-annual offsites, this year we extended the invitation to our advisors, Lt. Gen. Spigelmire, Maj. Gen. Nesbitt, and Brig. Gen. Blackstock, as well as prospective advisors. We believe they are an extension of our team and need to be aligned on values and mission as much as our full time VIAneers.

Want a sneak peak at Power Up week? Watch our Day 1 Kick-off video where we cover VIA’s mission.

Hey, 2022!

2022 will be a great year for VIAneers. To keep up with exponential customer growth, we already have three new hires starting in January on our technical team and have aggressive hiring plans across our offices globally.

We feel confident that we have the foundation in place for our next few hundred hires. Some of our processes date back to previous successful companies and are proven in diverse and challenging environments. 

Always staying agile, we look forward to the ways our new growth and team members will continue to spark our creative expansion of our VIAneers program. It is the part of the job our People and Operations team loves the most – and we see it pay off in the many successful commercial and technology milestones we achieved this year. We look forward to sharing more about them next! #lovein=loveout

Meet the Team: Felice Sicoli, Talent Acquisition Manager

Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from VIA team members about things like a typical day at the office and favorite foods.

What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

In Talent Acquisition, each day tends to be quite unique. I have the pleasure of speaking with new applicants, learning about their career ambitions, and showcasing what VIA has to offer as a “top employer”. To me, this means a company that cares about its employees mental health and wellbeing, professional development, and is committed to diversity, equality, and inclusion. Additionally, I get to collaborate with colleagues from different areas of the company on projects and process improvements to ensure that we provide the best candidate experience and hire a diverse and qualified workforce. 

How has the adoption of a hybrid work set up been for you?

I started my career at VIA fully remote, in a role that requires a lot of interaction with various stakeholders. Luckily, the entire onboarding experience was thoughtfully put together and I was able to quickly ramp up on procedures and tools. The opportunities I have had to meet colleagues in person, at the office, or at team events, have been outstanding! They were well organized, ensuring we had lots of fun while staying safe!

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

In my short time at VIA, I’ve had the opportunity to provide and execute on multiple process improvements. One in particular that stands out to me was related to the technical take home assignment process – it was a bit elaborate and time consuming for candidates and employees alike. I proposed that we centralize the process by adopting a software as a service that would streamline the candidate experience and automate the reviewing and scoring of assignments. In collaboration with the team, we identified and tested several platform vendors, and are in the process of fully integrating an automated code assessment tool at VIA.

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

My favorite memory is our summer picnic in Montreal. It was the first opportunity I had to meet several team members in person and connect over good food, drinks, and games – it was a fantastic afternoon!  

If you were given an extra hour in your day, what would you spend it doing?

Enjoying the outdoors and improving my golf game! 

What is your go-to food?

That’s a hard one as I love so many foods from various parts of the world. To name a few: sushi, bún bò huế, and authentic Italian pasta!

What’s something everyone may not, but should, know about working at VIA?

At VIA, we live and breathe our core values. Yes, you will find them on our walls and website, but we also believe in the importance of referring to them and providing feedback about how people demonstrate them in their everyday work.

What’s one fun fact that you have learned about the clean energy industry that you didn’t know before joining VIA?

A one hour power outage could cost some companies over a million dollars. 

If you could pick one word to describe the VIA team, what would it be?


Meet the Team: Becky McClements, Market Strategy Specialist

Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from VIA team members about things like a typical day at the office and favorite foods.

What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

Part of what I love about working at VIA is that there is no such thing as a “typical day”. I feel like that is incredibly cliche to say, but it is the truth! I get to touch so many different parts of our business and am constantly being exposed to new ideas and topics. Each day and each project is slightly different. 

Broadly, a typical day at VIA for me involves coordinating upcoming projects and proposals that need input for that day, and then executing that input, whether pulling together research or market sizing numbers, or writing sales and program proposal content. 

How has the transition back to the office been for you

I really thrive working in a group setting, so I am super excited to be working in person alongside teammates again. Each day I look forward to problem solving with VIA team members, who are just as engaged with and committed to VIA’s mission of making clean energy a “no trade-off” solution as I am.

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

In my short time at VIA, I’ve had the opportunity to support several proposals, including some that were fairly involved. In my first few months, we applied for some funding in the EU. I was very proud of the work and learning I did on that project. It was a pretty steep learning curve, but I ultimately felt like I gained a much more developed understanding of VIA’s products and put together a compelling proposal.

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

My welcome lunch when I first joined! I didn’t expect to meet the majority of the company on the first day and was also very nervous about how onboarding remotely would feel. I was impressed that so many people took time out of their days to introduce themselves, especially over video chat. I quickly realized the friendly and warm atmosphere of that call is pretty standard at VIA.

If you were given an extra hour in your day, what would you spend it doing?

Sitting outside, reading a book, and drinking some coffee.

What is your go-to food?

I really love a well-made sandwich with really fresh ingredients.

What’s something everyone may not, but should, know about working at VIA?

The VIA team’s GIF game is so strong! It adds so much brevity and humor to our Slack channels. 

What’s one fun fact that you have learned about the clean energy industry that you didn’t know before joining VIA?

I recently learned that small scale, personal wind turbines designed to power individual homes are starting to gain traction in Denmark. 

If you could pick one word to describe the VIA team, what would it be?


Meet the Team: Jonathan Chirwa, Software Developer

VIA’s Meet the Team blog series features Q&A-style interviews with our team members to learn what a typical work day looks like for each individual and some fun facts like their favorite foods.

What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

My day always begins with a warm cup of coffee and sending a “good morning” message on Slack signaling my availability for the day. Then, I review yesterday’s work to help prioritize tasks for the day and I also attend two daily standup meetings with the team. After standup, I get to work! A typical day ranges in terms of tasks, from lone/pair programming, preparing a presentation/demo, or researching a technology to use in a feature, like OAuth2 framework to improve the security of our user management system in authorizing and authenticating users.

What project have you worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

The first project I worked on at VIA was a logging project that improves program observability and helps developers easily debug. I’m proud to say that after completion of the project, other teams at VIA have been using it as part of their daily routine. I love that I was able to contribute to the whole team’s productivity early on at VIA.

What’s something everyone may not (but should!) know about working at VIA?

Since our work life has been remote in the last year, companies have been finding ways to motivate teams and keep company culture at the same, if not higher, level. I think our team has come up with a creative idea: VIA awards teammates with VIA-bucks (points) when something happens that is unique to working remotely like forgetting to unmute yourself or having your pet interrupt a video call. This has really eased the transition to online meetings. Pretty cool right? 🙂

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

My favorite memories at VIA are almost always from our team events. For example, our team played a game called “ling your language” where we listened to short clips of people speaking in different languages across the world and had to identify the language from a given set of options. During the game, I left it to my fellow team members who are from or have lived in parts of the world like the Middle East, Europe, Asia, North or South America, to identify the language in the clip. Vice versa, I would help more in identifying African languages.

Apart from earning some VIA-bucks (which we will redeem for a group event once we are back in person together), it reminded me of how diverse the VIA team is and how we work best when we are collaborating.

What makes VIA’s technology unique compared to others?

The idea of sharing code instead of data to compute some analytics is something I have never heard of, until I learned of VIA. In this world where data is gold but there are a lot of valid privacy and security concerns, our TAC™ technology is a game changing solution.

If you were given an extra hour in your day, what would you spend it doing?

Great question! If I were to live in a 25 hours/day Earth 2.0 world, I would spend that extra hour reading a good book. This may be spiritual, philosophical, historical or a how-to like Atomic Habits, which teaches useful techniques to develop new “good” habits and stop potentially “bad” habits.

What’s one fun fact that you have learned about clean energy that you didn’t know before joining VIA?

During my first week at VIA, I had several onboarding meetings with teammates ranging from discussions about social media to our tech stack. In one particular meeting, we covered the energy landscape. I was surprised and excited to learn that 2020 was the first year that clean energy was cheaper to produce than non-renewable/fossil energy.

We have to ask, what is your go-to food?

My go-to food is a beef burger. I haven’t mastered a homemade one yet, maybe because I tasted Montreal’s “Burger Royal” which set the bar too high.

End of Year Reflection

Over the last six months, VIA has shared 24 posts about our technology and partnerships. For our last post of 2020, we wanted to share a more personal note with our readers.

Looking back at our 2019 wrap-up blog, we had big ideas for 2020. Little did we know what that might entail.

Like every individual and company around the world, the pandemic re-routed us multiple times. However, we can’t help but be grateful for how our colleagues have responded, adapted, and accomplished in a year that was full of unforeseen speed bumps. Below are the ways our team found its way during 2020.

Transition to remote

Unbeknownst to us, Pi Day (3/14) would be the last day that we were all together in our offices.

Just as quickly as we demolished our pies, our team was up and running, fully remote. With some tweaks to home working spaces and more frequent touch points (like more one-to-one meetings and daily Scrum of Scrums), the team found its new groove. Having already worked across Montreal and Somerville for three years, the team remained productive while working from home.

Team growth and engagement

From a hiring standpoint, VIA just kept on growing! 

Our technology headquarters moved from Griffintown to Downtown Montreal. We can’t wait to be all together in the new space and host some exciting events for the local McGill and greater Montreal tech communities.

Our office move was motivated by our growth, since June we brought nine new team members on board and quickly refined the art of fully virtual recruitment and onboarding. We may not know the “in real life” height of our newest colleagues, but thanks to well-organised planning, frequent virtual check-ins, and the tremendous patience and generosity of our onboarding advisors and mentors, each one has been integrated to our team with overwhelming success. 

Always putting our people first

As a family-friendly company and one where “being each other’s biggest fan” is a core value, we doubled down on our efforts to consider the needs and wellbeing of our team. Sometimes, that meant cameos from children in meetings or adjusted schedules. For others, it was an encouraging reminder to keep going during one of our virtual workout sessions.

Above all, we maintained that there is no one way for people to respond in a year such as this. Whether team members needed to disconnect from the virtual world after work hours or join virtual “pub club”, paint night, or our first globally coordinated VIA Thanksgiving, either was equally fine.

Initiatives 2.0

With our expanding, distributed team, and a new style of working, it was important that VIA remained responsive to the rapidly changing environment. We introduced several wellness initiatives and upped our dosage of flexibility and compassion. From things like virtual yoga or frequent surveys to check-in, we always had our team’s wellbeing in mind.

As COVID-19 re-surged in the fall, we introduced the “VIA Vault” where team members earned points for things like technology fails (e.g., frozen video conference screens) or unexpected doorbells or pets joining meetings. The points will go towards a company-wide event, activity, or whatever it might be when we are all back together.

Lastly, this year was the first time in our company’s history that we did not have an in-person company offsite. That didn’t stop us, however, from having a multi-week mini-series to reflect on the year and unite and excite the team around VIA’s clean energy mission. 

We feel incredibly grateful for the resiliency and flexibility our team has shown during this challenging year. We thank them and we extend our thank you to our customers and investors for their continued support as well. We hope that no matter where you will be working from in 2021, you will have a happy, prosperous, and most of all “return to normal” 2021.

Let’s TAC™ About It: The Value of TAC™

For the twelfth installment of our blog series, we will cover how utilities quantify the value of using TAC™. So, are you ready to TAC™ about it?

In our last Let’s TAC™ About It post, we provided a few examples of customer use cases for TAC™.

A follow on question that we often get is, “how do you quantify the value of TAC™ in those use cases?” 

There are multiple ways to approach this, however the most common method is to compare what TAC™ is doing with “the next best alternative.” For most customers, that would be custom building your own data privacy and analysis platform or integrating multiple packages from multiple vendors.

One of VIA’s largest customers considered doing just this. They had evaluated more than 20 vendors and IT integration firms for their needs before we met them. This customer articulated these three big benefits when choosing TAC™ over their next best alternative:

  1. Speed: Because TAC™ has a wide array of built-in features, they could count on being up and running much faster than custom applications. In this instance, other vendors estimated as much as a two year timeframe to build and test an IT platform for their needs. VIA was able to do this in less than four months from the time our contract was signed with them. Even better, within three weeks of using the new platform, they were able to make significant decisions including upgrading $10 million in equipment and planning an equipment replacement, which they estimate will save them $1.2 million per year.
  2. Risk reduction: Custom IT solutions and integration are infamous for delays, budget overruns, and not meeting specifications. Since TAC™ has already been tested and deployment is automated, timelines for future deployment are highly reliable. Prospective TAC™ customers can also see and test features in advance to help make configuration decisions.
  3. Support: Because other customers are already using TAC™, VIA has a strong customer support team and process in place. In addition, upgrades and enhancements are rolled out roughly every month. These upgrades are for all users regardless of their implementation.

Interested in learning more? Write to for more details on the value of TAC™ for our customers.