Atlantic Canada ’20 AquaHacking Finalists: What Are They Up To Now?
The Atlantic Canada 2020 AquaHacking Challenge Finalist teams have been very busy over the past 9 months since the AquaHacking Final event in September 2020. Following the Final event, they were connected with incubator programs across the Atlantic provinces and the training and mentorship they continue to receive are fundamental to the development of their water tech products, services, and start-ups. Check out all of their exciting updates.
What are some recent updates and developments in regard to your tech solution or business development?
Clean Catch Baits: Clean Catch Baits is now “Clean Catch Inc.” as we are now an incorporated company! We have two new team members: Matt Mizzi, R&D Lead, and John Wagner, Pro-angler and Senior Advisor. We also just finished a $20,000 marketing and branding project involving the launch of our new website and designed sustainable packaging in preparation for our product launch.
WIDE: Since the end of the competition, three University of New Brunswick students (Dalton Killorn, Tegan Aguinaga and Emma King-Jesso) have joined our team to assist in the technical design of the system through their Technology Management and Entrepreneurship (TME) engineering senior design project. We are currently focused on the 3D modelling and simulation of the system, design refinement, financial analysis, user validation, and technical verification. We have recently begun participation in Planet Hatch’s startup incubator program to further develop the business aspects of the project.
ExTech MIP: In ExTech MIP, we are developing devices using for water sample analysis in labs. Analyzing water samples requires specific treatment in environmental labs which can include several tedious and resource-demanding steps that could also be sources of error in the results. Our product eases the process, saves time and money for labs, providing reliable results, and reducing waste. We incorporated the company in July 2020 because we want to make a clear path for ourselves and make our partners and customers sure about our desire and mission in ExTech MIP.
Drinkable Water Solutions (previously What the Well): Our product is now focusing on water sectors and regions far greater than Atlantic well water testing. It are designing it so it will be smaller, lighter, cheaper, and simpler to use. We are still in the midst of our R&D phase, but our product and company (undergoing an identity/branding shift) are shifting to focus on global water data collection via ordinary people checking their own water quality. We are currently in the process of incorporation, working with a designer to redesign our website, and have recently added a senior finance student to our team, Quincy Cochrane. We are also currently onboarding a marketing specialist. We recently placed in the Global Apex Business Competition and won the Atlantic Canada Sustainability Award sponsored by Naveco Power. We will also be presenting in the March Madness and BDO pitch competitions.
What has your incubation experience been like, post-AquaHacking Challenge?
Clean Catch Baits: Our incubation at COVE has been very beneficial, immersing us in a community of professionals and businesses who are also tackling water issues and providing us with mentorship along the way. We have received overwhelming support from experienced professionals in our community.
WIDE: The incubation program with Planet Hatch began at the end of February 2021. Sessions are held on a weekly basis with mentors from Planet Hatch discussing various topics about starting a business. This is a valuable experience for WIDE to learn more about creating a business.
ExTech MIP: It is an excellent opportunity for start-ups in Newfoundland to be part of Genesis, a successful incubator for high-tech companies. We graduated from their Evolution program (product validation) and will start their Enterprise program which is the next step for us to grow further and to benefit from the mentorship and resources at Genesis. This program helped with our business planning. We learned that we need to develop our product offering as a package (from value proposition to validation and revenue). Such a package will allow us to guarantee our partners like the university about our strategy to commercialize the product.
Drinkable Water Solutions (previously What the Well): The incubation at Emera IdeaHUB and working directly with their director, Margaret Palmeter, has been great! We are leveraging opportunities with them as well as with Volta, along with a number of advisors to help us make progress. Being part of an incubator program helped us identify next steps and encouraged us to take more active risks and customer validation via prototype developments.
How have you invested the seed funding you won through AquaHacking?
Clean Catch Baits: We leveraged our AquaHacking seed funding towards our Mitacs project, Marketing / Branding project, and additional materials needed for production. The seed funding received enabled us to keep developing our solution/prototype and sustain our business over the past 6 months. This award will allow us to finish final product development so we can start filling shelves with Clean Catch Baits.
WIDE: We used some of the funding for demonstration unit parts as well as for access to the Planet Hatch Accelerator Program. We will use the remaining funding for further demonstration unit development and to help fund a full-time position over summer 2021.
ExTech MIP: For early-stage start-ups, this type of seed funding is very critical. They help to financially support the project and company, and more importantly, they help get a lot of visibility and facilitate access to additional resources. We invested our seed funding into the Mitacs application.
Drinkable Water Solutions (previously What the Well): Thanks to our AquaHacking seed funding award, we invested in 3D printing for our prototype, website design/development, organizational software, coffee/lunch meetings with potential advisors, legal considerations, and app design subscription. It was a small push to help us make our first steps as a company.
What is the biggest thing your team has learned?
ExTech MIP: The biggest lesson that we learned was the fact that it does not matter how good/wonderful/technical our product is. What matters is if anyone wants to pay for it or if it can solve a problem.
Drinkable Water Solutions (previously What the Well): We have learned that identity formation takes time, leadership takes practice, and risks are a part of life so don’t be afraid of them!
What are your next steps?
Clean Catch Baits: Clean Catch Inc. will be kicking off a $60,000 R&D Mitacs project to complete the final product development. In addition to this we are working on a manufacturing and scaling plan through the Emera IDEA Hub’s “BUILD” Program.
WIDE: Our immediate next steps are continuing the accelerator program with Planet Hatch and completing the TME engineering senior design project. In summer 2021, we hope to build a demonstration unit, perform system testing, and develop possible customers and community partnerships.
ExTech MIP: We are working on several pieces including our product-market fit, customer validation, large-scale production, IP negotiation, and product distribution.
Drinkable Water Solutions (previously What the Well): We are in the middle of an identity overhaul which includes our name, logo, market appearance, etc. Once our incorporation is completed and we can safely share a number of proprietary cornerstones with special advisors, we plan to accelerate our R&D phase, prototype development/customer validation, MVP refinement, establish patents, and build a more cohesive board of mentors that can help us scale our vision.
Any special remarks you’d like to share?
Clean Catch Baits: We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in AquaHacking and for the continued support and resources we’ve received through the AquaHacking community. At COVE incubator, we are thankful to be able to work with two key mentors, Shelley Hessian (Executive Director, Start-Up Yard at COVE) and Stephen Jones (Chief Business Development Officer, Ashored Innovations).
WIDE: We would like to thank our TME senior design mentors, Brad McPherson, Tom Sisk, and Dr. Saha for their amazing support through the project, as well as Colin Smith for his graphic design support. Key mentors from the Planet Hatch incubator include Kelly Smith and Hannahbelle Weaver.
ExTech MIP: AquaHacking was a great opportunity for us to get-out-of-the-box and see if we can solve a real-world problem. We benefited from an excellent mentorship from the Genesis incubator, particularly with Patrick Begin and Emily Butler. They weren’t familiar with our field, but their feedback was critical to improve our pitching skills and presentation.
Drinkable Water Solutions (previously What the Well): Gordon Check was a critical mentor for us during the AquaHacking Challenge, and we would like to thank him for his time, along with all of the staff at AquaHacking for giving us the framework to develop the rough idea that we came into the competition with. On behalf of our team, thank you to AquaHacking for hosting the competition and for keeping the dialog going!
How can people reach out or learn more about your work?
ExTech MIP: Most of our founders are scientists and therefore we are looking forward to diversifying our expertise by adding to our board of directors individuals with experience in engineering and business. If you would like to join us, drop us a message via our website.