Company 360:
Q&A With Matt Rose

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Matt Rose

Chief Executive Officer, Apana

Matt Rose - Bio PicTell us a little about Apana and your business model?

Apana provides automated water management systems and services for the commercial and industrial built environment. Our end-to-end solution detects operations and mechanical water waste in buildings 24/7.

Our solution goes further than competitive solutions because we not only use analytics to identify waste when it starts, we also identify probable causes for investigation – we call this actionable information. By providing actionable information to managers and front-line staff, we give them the tools to understand what changes are happening and potential causes while freeing them from the burden of constantly monitoring a dashboard.

Installation is relatively simple. A commercial plumber installs our sensors and telemetry platform then our proprietary analytics platform goes to work creating a high-resolution model of the building’s water usage while searching for waste. Our telemetry system is also an Internet of Things (IoT) backbone that can connect to other sensors. By using the Apana solution, the average customer has been capturing more than 20% savings.

How did you come up with the idea for Apana?

Before Apana, we built package waste-water treatment plants for commercial centers without access to a municipal sewer for over 20 years. Our customers were typically big-box grocery stores. 7 years ago we had to solve a compliance risk problem for a customer using sensors. The byproduct of our solution was that it saved water. We saw the opportunity and continued to develop it.

How did your past experience influence the creation of the company?

Through our past experience in waste-water treatment, we learned that waste-water tells a story. It’s not a sexy story, but the story holds valuable information on how water is being consumed within the building. When water consumption and/or contamination within the water are out-of-balance, it can cause major issues for the treatment plant. Due to necessity, we ended up becoming experts in identifying wasteful practices in water use and catching mechanical issues through our treatment plant monitoring systems. We realized we had something new that saved water for customers. Thus Apana was born.

How has the investment from Element 8 helped you make your company successful?

The Element 8 investment was key. When we first came to Element 8, we had a product and a customer that proved the technology worked; however, we were at max capacity and needed funding to scale. Using the funds and knowledge from Element 8 members, we were able to grow our sales and marketing department from zero to one, improve the robustness and effectiveness of our analytics, and scale our manufacturing to handle increased demand that has allowed us to accelerate growth and put ourselves in position to seek strategic partnerships and additional investment.

Where do you see Apana three years from today and what does your long-term vision of success look like?

In three years, I see Apana as the world leader for water management in the commercial and industrial space. I currently see us generating a healthy mix of direct sales and channel partnerships. It is also my belief that we’ve truly created a new white-space to make it possible for Commercial and Industrial customers to manage their water use. Most C-level execs we’ve met have traditionally viewed water as a line item on the budget that can’t be managed. We’re proving water can be managed in a cost effective way.

Where do you think the clean tech market is headed in the next 5 – 10 years?

Speaking for the water space, I believe there will be an explosion of services within the sector as the public gains awareness of water’s scarcity and its impact on local and global affairs. Businesses are beginning to define water risk within their reporting;, the cost of water and sewage treatment is continuing to increase at rates akin to healthcare and college tuition. More and more policy makers and business leaders are being forced to take action. Since water has been neglected for so long, the wave is still just building.

What is the most important piece of advice you’ve ever received as an entrepreneur?

Focus on your company’s fit in two ways – product-market fit and team fit. Product-market fit is being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market. Team fit is equally important for long-term success – employees, advisors and investors are critical decisions. Element 8’s investors and advisors has have been a great fit for our team.

Are you reading any good books right now?

Most of the books I have on my Kindle right now are business books. One particularly interesting on is “Zero to One,” by Peter Thiel. As I’ve been reading it, I’ve found it very relevant for where Apana is at as a company. The book is about going from garages to all the moving pieces that need to be managed to get growth and success. Also it makes us think about prioritizing so we don’t get caught up on the small stuff and keep our eyes on the prize. I’m also reading “Border Songs,” by Jim Lynch and a broad potpourri of data analytics books.