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SECUREWATERS AQUASENTINEL

Robert Clark Fri, 2011-07-22 11:34

Robert Clark · Fri, 07/22/2011 - 11:34

Business

Business Overview: 

SecureWaters, Inc. was formed in 2010 to develop and commercialize patented technology from Oak Ridge National Lab that automatically detects and identifies toxins in surface water and alerts the user to the presence of contamination. The AquaSentinel device is a field-deployable unit that uses photosynthesis of algae to identify the toxin. The unit can be deployed in municipal water and wastewater facilities, industrial companies, and the military/homeland security infrastructure. The global water test market is over $5 billion in revenues both domestically and internationally, and the competitive advantages offered include real-time detection and classification, cost savings over current methods, and no reagents needed. The company is located in Soddy Daisy, TN and Robert Clark, Chief Financial Officer, will be presenting. The company is seeking $1.9 million to grow the company.

Project Location: 
CHATTANOOGA, TN, 37402
United States

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What are your future milestones, and how much capital will you need to achieve each of the milestones outlined?: 

SecureWaters’ primary goal in using this investment is to quantitatively support and prove the market pain. We know that the technology is a great idea and have first hand validation of the need, but who is going to buy it and how much are they going to pay? We need to prove that there is a customer base that will purchase the AquaSentinel to both protect their customers from intentional and accidental contamination and provide ROI (cost savings) to their shareholders. To do this, the AquaSentinel needs to be demonstrated at existing end users and to do this, SecureWaters needs new units. Market testing will identify the sales pipeline and how to target that group. We intend to use the four existing units and six additional new (75% less expensive with customized parts) units to deploy and generate primary feedback with the intent to sell the units to those customers. The result will be a proof of market, income from sales, and marketing feedback.

What is your total and operating cash burn (the amount you're spending) per month? : 

We are spending approximately $25,000 per month with the following breakdown: $7,000 to produce one unit per month, $5,000 per month for marketing and trade shows, $12,000 per month for salaries and expenses for 4 professionals, and $1,000 per month for other overhead such as rent and utilities.

How many future rounds of financing do you project? : 

We envision one more round of seed capital of $150k, and then a Series A round of $1.5 million. This will allow us to source, build and place 10 demonstration units in our target markets, to upgrade the software to allow us to use a newer lower cost version of a flurometer that will reduce our current manufactured cost by 75%. It will also allow us to market our product in sales calls and trade shows, increasing the visibility of our company and product and to pay for our patent and license costs to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. We also continue to participate in business competitions and fundraising events in our efforts to raise this capital.

Services Desired: 
Grant Writer
Capital Broker/Dealer
Who is the Customer?: 

Global Water Utilities, Corporations, Waste Water Treatment, Military Utilities, Homeland Security, Construction and Engineering Services, and Environmental Organizations focused on clean water

What is the Customer Pain that you are solving?: 

High cost of monitoring for toxic contamination and ensuring clean surface water and drinking water supplies

Names of any current or recent customers: 

AquaSentinel is currently beta-testing units

What is the Target Market?: 

Primary Target Market are the 12,000 Water Utilities in US that draw their drinking water from surface water sources including lakes, reservoirs, and streams.

How big is the Target Market in terms of Annual Sales?: 
$200M-$500M
Sales/Marketing Strategy: 

Current strategy is to leverage existing distributors of water test and monitoring systems

Provide use cases : 

Water Utilities would use the AquaSentinel on their intake systems to protect their facilities from potential accidental or intentional toxic contamination

Competition: 

Multi-National Conglomerates with Water Divisions, Water Pure Plays and Toxicity Monitors:

One-line Pitch: 

AquaSentinel is the only continuous and unmanned monitor on the market that alerts surface water source users to intentional or accidental toxic contamination by using a patented technology platform licensed from Oak Ridge National Laboratory using indigenous algae as the biosensor

Business Model: 

To manufacture the AquaSentinel system and sell through existing distributors with an option of recurring revenue through a lease program

Product/Services Overview (what does it do): 

• Unique bio-sensing technology & process
• Real-time continuous monitoring without human intervention
• Strong IP protection that includes international PCT filings
• Multiple patents for field-of-use protection and hardware upgrades to “Lab-on-Chip” technologies
• Upgradeable database of toxic “Thumbprints” to enhance service offering
• Mix of sales offering, hardware, upgrades and monthly monitoring and alerting services
• Multiple domestic and international markets; water protection, regulatory compliance, natural disaster water quality sensing, and future “drop and sense” technologies
• Networked system to create “safety nets” for large remote source water areas

Technology

What makes the technology/business unique and have a defendable competitive advantage?: 

The AquaSentinel technology is an online and continuous water toxicity monitor utilizing naturally occurring in situ green algae as a biosensor. The device provides 24/7 real time analysis of surface water without the need for technicians or reagents, enabling it to be deployed remotely and to reduce existing labor and consumable costs at the user level. The AquaSentinel monitors for a broad spectrum of toxins and can identify toxins stored in its software database by matching characteristic fluorescence curves. The technology is not fouled by turbidity or debris in real world applications and requires no sample pretreatment or culture maintenance which inhibit practical deployment of many competitors. The unit provides continuous wireless communication with a controller or network operations center and is remotely monitored, remotely updateable, and can be directly integrated into existing process controls networks.

Describe in detail the technology used in the Project - Address the innovation in significant detail : 

The core technology that enables the AquaSentinel's operation is the measure of algal fluorescence - specifically photochemical yield vs. time - using a standard fluorometer and widely understood technologies. Each unit is equipped with an onboard CPU and relay controller which enables information to be read from the fluorometer, analyzed, and outputted through a wireless communications channel, while also controlling the array of valves which direct water flow through the system and into the fluorometer. The system can be operated at a computer terminal in manual mode for maintenance or other specific tasks, or it can run autonomously in automatic mode. While it has been known for many years that algal fluorescence can be correlated to algal health, the AquaSentinel leverages the novel concept that specific toxins which create specific changes in algal physiology and subsequently in fluorescence can be mapped against a standard algal curve to create an identifying "fingerprint".

What are the principles of the technology? : 

Green algae exists in all clean surface waters exposed to sunlight regardless of geographic location. While particular species may vary from one location to the next, each species undergoes the same physiological processes - namely photosystems I and II - which are key to generating the characteristic curve when fluoresced at 365nm and monitored at 680nm. Many toxins that affect human physiology typically affect algal physiology, though obviously not through the same mechanisms. Specific toxins or families of toxins interfere with the pathways of algae in characteristic ways, and this in turn generates specific changes in algal fluorescence curves. By measuring a toxic curve's departures from a normal curve, one can identify the toxin or at least the family of toxins that is affecting the algae. In performing this analysis in a flow through arrangement, it is possible to create a realtime toxicity monitor for source water assets utilizing naturally occurring algae as a biosensor.

What, if anything, has been proven (and how far is this from a commercial scale)? : 

The technology has progressed through three unit generations, the first of which was deployed at demonstration sites including small water utilities, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and military installations. The second generation was a functional redesign utilizing feedback learned during generation I testing, and incorporating the toxin identification algorithms. The current generation is prepared to begin client demonstrations immediately with a focus toward immediate transition into commercial sale, and represents increased robustness coupled with decreased size, cost, and power requirements. Improvements to this current generation may include replacement of the fluorometer with a smaller more robust unit as well as incremental software changes that can be deployed in "patch" form from a central network operations center.

What challenges/risk does the technology face for commercialization?: 

The technology was developed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks with a focus towards threat mitigation and water security. Selling capital assets into governmental and quasi-governmental organizations requires an intimate understanding of the standard purchasing practices and cycles which are fundamentally different from most private industry. Further, selling water security devices into a municipality that has never viewed itself as at risk of terrorist threat is a difficult proposition. SecureWaters plans to sell into these same markets leveraging a return-on-investment play by which users would lease or purchase the unit at a reduced rate and pay a recurring monitoring fee. In this case the unit would be positioned not as providing protection from terrorist attack, but as reducing the labor and consumables cost of a utility by replacing a portion of the current hands-on testing and reducing treatment cost by better forecasting needs based on incoming water conditions.

Patent Numbers (Filed/Approved): 

he following patents apply to the AquaSentinel technology in the U.S.:
• Tissue-Based Water Quality Bio-Sensors for Detecting Chemical Warfare Agents 6.569.384
• Enhanced Monitor System for Water Protection 7.258.836 10/689.316
• Method and Apparatus for Enhanced Microbial Detection 11/271.643 PCTUS06/042984
• Measuring Indigenous Photosynthetic Organisms to Detect Chemical Warfare Agents in Water 6.964.857
• Fluorescence Induction Data Analysis 11/216,282
• Method and System for Real-Time Analysis of Bio-Sensor Data 11/271,643
PCT US06/042984

Team

NameTitle
RAY D SLATTONCEO
ROBERT CLARKCFO
SHAWN GENUNGCTO
BARRETT TAYLORCMO
WENDELL O'REILLY
ELI GREENBAUM
Current Investors: 
TNINVESTCO

Financials

Amount Sought: 
$2,000,000
If raising funds, what shall the funds be used for?: 

MANUFACTURING UNITS, MARKETING, EPA VALIDATION

Pre-Money Valuation: 
$5,000,000
Funding Received to Date: 
$150,000
Amount invested by Founders: 
$750,000
Funding Stage: 
Pre-Revenue
Funding History: 
Funding Round Funding TypeFunding dateFunding Source/ InvestorsAmountPre-Money valuation
Seed/BootstrapEquity750000
AngelConvertible Debt50000
AngelConvertible Debt50000
AngelConvertible Debt50000
Internal Rate of Return (IRR): 
8%

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