Water Metering Startup Wins Vote for “Best Demo” at EvoNexus Event

A San Diego civil engineer who has developed an alternative technology for automating the measurement of water flow gave the best presentation at EvoNexus Fall Demo Day, an event that drew nearly 400 entrepreneurs, investors, and supporters late Thursday to Qualcomm’s corporate headquarters.

Water Pigeon co-founder Sarp Sekeroglu got the most votes in a survey conducted immediately after six startups incubating at EvoNexus gave short presentations. EvoNexus operates as a free incubator (with “no strings attached”) for tech startups at three facilities in San Diego and Orange County. It is supported by the private real estate developer Irvine Company, with industry support from strategic partners like Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), ViaSat (NASDAQ: VSAT), and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), as well as other technology companies, banks, and service providers.

Water Pigeon came up with a way to enable automatic readings of water meters that doesn’t require a water utility to replace all of its existing water meters or to build a private wireless network to collect data.

Instead, Water Pigeon has embedded its technology on the inside lid of water meter boxes. Instead of replacing each legacy water meter with a smart meter, Sekeroglu says a utility would simply replace the lid. A camera in each lid regularly takes an image of the water meter and uses optical character recognition technology to convert the image to data that is transmitted by a wireless LTE modem to the local water utility. The company is beginning five pilot projects to test its technology, Sekeroglu said.

He estimated that the cost of implementing Water Pigeon’s technology for a water utility in the San Diego area—by replacing 7,300 water meter lids—would take about six months and cost about $2 million. Replacing 7,300 water legacy meters with “smart meters” that cost $300 to $500 apiece would cost about $5.5 million and take five years, Sekeroglu said.

Here is a quick recap of the other presentations at the event:

Trials.ai, presented by co-founder and CEO Kim Walpole, has developed cloud-based software intended to help contract research organizations and pharmaceutical companies manage their clinical trials. The startup uses artificial intelligence-related technologies to help manage the process. (Trials.ai was founded as Catalyst eClinical.)

Guru is developing technology for museums and other cultural institutions and creates engaging educational experiences that can be viewed on a variety of mobile devices. In a little over a year, Guru has become cash-flow positive, said co-founder and chief creative officer Paul Shockley.

Clics has developed a computer-controlled system for formulating and dispensing hair colors at professional salons. Co-founder and CEO Charles Brown said the Web-based system would save salons thousands of dollars each year by providing more precise measurements. Clics also avoids the environmental costs associated with disposing of hair color tubes in landfills and the costs of treating chemical pigments at wastewater treatment plants, he said.

BluAgent, presented by co-founder and CEO J.C. Mejia, provides software that enables trucking companies to simplify and manage all safety and compliance regulations mandated by federal, state, and local government agencies.

Approved, presented by co-founder and CEO Andy Taylor, is developing Web-based software that enables any home mortgage lender to streamline the loan approval process. The system allows customers to automatically collect their supporting documents and shorten the loan application process from one or two weeks to a few minutes, Taylor said.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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