Inventor/Entrepreneur: Matt Rose

Company: Apana

City: Bellingham

Where to find it: www.apana.com

 

Apana is the leader in automated water management for business. They save money for companies with their

patented hardware and software products that save water, reduce compliance risk and strengthen supply

chain and operational stability for their customers. Their complete water efficiency solution deploys

advanced technology and real-time analytics to pinpoint waste and deliver intelligence to the frontline for

immediate corrective action. Locally, the Chrysalis hotel recently installed the Apana system a part of their

commitment to their water conversation program.

 

How did you discover there was a problem in need of a solution?

I was working for a company in the wastewater treatment industry when one of our customers came to us and

asked for a solution to a compliance problem with buildings using more water than predicted. We built the

customer a custom solution and then realized that many other commercial building had the same problem.

Thus, Apana was born. iIt grew out of a need of a customer from an existing business.

 

What was the problem and how did you solve it?

The problem we were solving is around eliminating inherent waste that goes on within commercial buildings.

Once a commercial building is commissioned, the plumbing asset is no longer monitored. It’s behind the walls

and ceilings and there are hundreds of failure points, not to mention all the people who use it that don’t always

use it efficiently. What our product does is scan the whole system and where there is a problem our analytics

can pinpoint the problem and guide the customer to a solution to stop the waste.

 

What were the biggest challenges you faced in getting started?

The hardest part of what we do is getting the right kind of technology to do what we need. You’d think in 2016

that would be really easy with all the innovations in technology, but what we needed did not exist. We were

not satisfied with the off-the- self systems that were available and we made a decision to build our own. We

were lucky that we were able to find the right group of experts to develop our system.

 

How long did it take to get the first prototype to the customer?

A few months, we had some setbacks and had to go back to the drawing board two2 or three3 times to get it

right. As with most new product development in a new area, you start as a tinkerer and develop into an

expert.

 

How were you able to start growing from that first customer?

Our system was saving our initial customer over 20% on water consumption and paid for itself in a year – this

helped closed further sales. Positive results from those sales reinforced our value proposition. We then hired

an experience sales executive and started growing. Today we have ten10 employees and we’re hoping to

double that within a year.

 

What advice would you give to others who are just getting started?

Be flexible – realize it is an iterative process to create a product that will sell. Do not be afraid to pull the plug

on your past work, because a lot of times a better way will come up and you just have to let go of what you

have built – even if it took you a year to do it. We have seen companies that fall in love with their product while

the customer needs are neglected. Focus on customer’s needs and adapt your product to meet those needs.

Also spentd the time to get good advisors – especially in areas where you lack experience.

 

*This piece originally appeared in the Bellingham Herald.