Over the past few months, the Pani team has been involved in two accelerator programs that culminated in our participation in panels, pitches, and demo days.
Plug and Play Tech Center: Sustainability Cohort
First up is Plug and Play Tech Center. The California-headquartered organization has locations around the world and recently launched their presence in neighbouring province, Alberta, with three programs focused on sustainability, health, and a sector agnostic program to accelerate artificial intelligence and machine learning startups across multiple sectors. Pani was selected to participate in the Sustainability cohort by Plug and Play’s advisory committee and we’ve been taking part in their programming since March.
At the end of May, our CEO and Growth and Strategy Initiatives Lead travelled together to Calgary to pitch our solution for smarter water management. This saw us showcased in front of hundreds of audience members and throughout the day at our demo table. We met with a number of companies in attendance who are interested in adopting more sustainable practices in their operations, including Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Suncor, and Imperial Oil.
During the event, we also participated in a panel discussion alongside a few other startups. We addressed a question that touched on the challenges to overcome and decisions to make regarding building a product that can be applicable across an endless number of markets and industries that have water as a factor.
The Water Sector as Both Challenge and Opportunity
Pani’s CEO, Devesh Bharadwaj, described the state of things by explaining that a primary challenge is that water has traditionally been considered an “unsexy” market and opportunity for many investors. The complexity also comes from the two phases that must be considered when it comes to water: supply and distribution of water sources, and treatment of both fresh and wastewater.
Pani's solution focuses on treatment and we typically encounter two types of customers. The first type usually comes to us in a state of misery, with some big pain points and a drive to move fast to solve them. The second type is trying to stay ahead of the curve with a progressive mindset, approaching their water processes with an eye for innovation and competitive advantage.
Four Value Propositions for Our Customers
Regardless of which type of customer we’re engaging with, however, a commonality between them is seen in the four main value propositions that are at play in the market. These are:
The cost of treatment across the lifecycle of water, understood as dollar per litre of water ($/L)
Staying in compliance with both water quality regulations and quantity permits when it comes to wastewater treatment and discharge
Environmental considerations regarding greenhouse gas emissions and a facility’s carbon footprint, expressed as CO2 equivalent per litre of water (Co2e/L)
In water-stressed regions, an important factor is found in how much water can be returned to the supply for reuse
Attending Silicon Valley Summit
After the Expo Day in Calgary, we were also invited to attend Plug and Play’s Silicon Valley Summit in San Francisco to talk about how the Pani platform helps make water processing and management more sustainable. We joined another seven companies that pitched their solutions for other tough problems.
There were over 2,000 people in attendance, ranging from startups to corporate partners and the event also included a keynote speech delivered by the CEO and President of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, and a Carbon Neutrality workshop co-hosted by Sylvera. The sustainability theme was strong throughout!
The Water Council's BREW 2.0 Water Technology Accelerator
For the past 12 weeks, we’ve also been taking part in The Water Council’s BREW 2.0 Water Technology Accelerator Program. We attended workshops to learn about the global market, and how to scale a startup in it, from expert mentors and industry leaders. The comprehensive programming covered everything from marketing strategies to recruitment and culture-building, as well as how to find project financing and preparing good abstracts for conferences. Sessions also included customer and investor perspectives, navigating “the deal” when engaging with established multinational corporations or discussing acquisitions, and getting a whole lot of pitching practice in.
BREW 2.0 Demo Day
And speaking of pitches, we also participated in the recent Demo Day to showcase our digital technology solution to more than 150 people from across the water sector.
During the Q&A section, we answered a question regarding how much upfront digital investment is required for customers to get started with Pani. And the answer is none! Pani meets plants where they are on their digital journey, even working for plants with manual data entry. In fact, one of our customers started using Pani in a fully manual facility and has seen enough value from the platform’s basic features that they’re now investing to upgrade their infrastructure with sensors in order to access the artificial intelligence-powered features for further process optimization and membrane service forecasting. This will help them continue to reduce their water footprint and greenhouse gas emissions from treatment processes. Because the Pani solution has a software-as-a-service model, it allows for a high level of sophistication of the tools available in the platform, with an affordable monthly payment instead of a major upfront investment. It also means customers can get set up quickly; the base tier can be implemented and ready for use in less than a day.
Our Accelerator Takeaways
Throughout both of these experiences, we learned a lot and are applying the knowledge to further develop the Pani platform to address the needs and priorities of customers operating industrial and municipal water treatment, wastewater treatment, and desalination facilities. Our continued aim is to empower operational and executive teams to make better decisions, reducing risks and costs to ensure a resilient and sustainable water supply well into the future.