In the spring of 2020, one of the founders we have been lucky to work with made the leap into entrepreneurship based on experience, insight, and a true drive to build software in manufacturing that could change how production and monitoring of liquids is done. When we met Annie the following winter (over zoom, of course) as she and her brother David were just putting things in motion, we knew this was someone with incredible drive. This CNBC piece tells their whole founding story and we’re excited to officially announce our seed investment in the company.
In the wake of the pandemic, the ripples through our supply chain are still being felt. There is a renewed and lasting need to manufacture more of just about everything domestically or nearshore At the heart of this manufacturing are liquids — liquids for cleaning, liquids for ingredients, and liquid products we consume every day. The production processes and monitoring processes for these liquids are outdated, intermittent, and lacking. This all means there are big opportunities for saving costs, improving revenue, and ensuring safety and resilience of manufacturing companies. And, we note that in addition to cost savings, there is a huge benefit in conserving energy and improving efficiency.
H2Ok Innovations solves these problems with their connected software platform and advanced, customized liquid sensors. And they are coming out of stealth to announce huge progress with big customers — Unilever recently named H2Ok Innovations their “Startup of the Year” amongst its supplier network of over 52,000 partners. Richard Slater, Unilever’s CRO, recently said, “H2Ok Innovations has solidly proven its value proposition and we are incredibly excited to be part of their growth journey.” H2Ok has helped Unilever achieve an 18% reduction in downtime during cleaning while saving 40% of water during these processes. Double digit improvements in manufacturing are unheard of and speaks to the high impact of H2Ok’s solution.
To give you a sense of their potential impact: approximately 20% of the average liquid cleaning or manufacturing company’s revenue goes to costs related to quality control issues and inefficient processes. H2Ok uses spectral-based sensors and ML edge computing to solve this problem and they fill in critical gaps of data. This allows customers to test the quality of their liquid, regardless of its medium, without stopping production. They can now know exactly when to start and stop cleaning procedures, minimizing down and changeover time, and increasing production efficiency. H2Ok’s solution has proven to reduce the wastewater treatment cost by 66% and chemical usage by 30% for their customers. At scale, these solutions are positioned to save manufacturing companies, like Unilever, millions of dollars. This is something that simply cannot be solved by cheaper labor — which we note has been the manufacturing industry’s go-to-solution for decades. Those days are over and new technology must fill the gap.
We led the Seed, and we’re excited to be working alongside 2048 Ventures and Flybridge to help H2Ok scale their vision. Annie and David Lu have (as expected) proven to be tenacious entrepreneurs and we’re thrilled about their growth.