Sentry, which uses real-time bio-electrode sensors to collect and analyze waste-water data for utilities, received investment from Fort Collins, Co.-based Factor[e] Ventures and Germany’s SKion Water GmbH. Though the companies did not reveal the size of the round, a Series A round is generally thought to be something over $2 million.
Aside from the amount of money, Founder and CEO Patrick Kiely said the round is important because both these funds have the ability to help the company grow in key markets. Factor[e] has special strength in emerging markets, while SKion has a portfolio of other water technology companies around the world.
“We want to be central to the digitization and the optimization of waste-water treatment . . . and we know we have a unique tool that would allow the use of AI [artificial intelligence] and data analytics,” said Kiely in an interview. “We’re just really excited to bring on two partners that we think will help us to be recognized as the industry standard in the sector of waste-water treatment."
Island Water Treatment is a holding company with two divisions that operate independently – Sentry, which analyzes waste-water data, and Regen, which builds small-scale water treatment facilities for remote locations. In the past, IWT has received funding from such backers as Innovacorp, Natural Products Canada and Island Capital Partners. The current round of funding applies only to Sentry.
Speaking only for Sentry, Keily said the company was performing well in the first quarter of 2020, but utilities stopped onboarding new technology when COVID-19 broke out in March. Similarly, discussions with potential funders dried up until the underlying business improved. Luckily, Sentry had already completed installations so there was recurring income.
In the autumn, the company began making sales again and Kiely re-ignited the talks on funding, especially with the two groups that could really help Sentry’s business.
SKion Water is a specialist investor in water technology, and has a portfolio of water-technology companies throughout the world. Sentry is already doing business with one of its portfolio companies, the Dutch venture Paques.
“The key thing that’s going to get us to an inflection point is to be part of a family of companies that are engaged in our space and are incentived to work with us,” said Kiely. “Once you get to that step, then you’ve generated this type of acceptance in the industry where there are no more barriers to growth.”
Factor[e] is an impact fund that backs clean technologies that can help improve environmental conditions in the developing world. It works with groups like the World Bank to develop and install these technologies, and is working with Sentry on installations in such countries as Ghana and Vietnam.
“Factor[e]’s focus has always been on brokering technology into emerging markets,” said Sentry in a statement. “Our relationship with them will allow us to go into frontier markets in an informed way, leverage Factor[e]’s existing relationships and partnerships, and even work with some of their portfolio companies.”
The Sentry team – which now numbers 12 people and will add two more soon – identified California and the U.K. as their key markets a few years ago. Kiely said those markets are performing well and Singapore has become the third key market.