Noah Technologies Aims to Keep Basement Floodwaters At Bay

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and property managers of the Intelli-Sensor’s value. A typical home installation costs more than $1,000. Noah Technologies has agreements with a dozen insurance companies that give a 5 percent discount on the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance premium for installation, but that doesn’t come close to offsetting the up-front cost of the system, Rice said.

But the system is still cheaper than paying a potential $2,000 insurance deductible in the event of a disastrous leak, not to mention the unquantifiable loss of irreplaceable keepsakes and the headache of repairing damaged infrastructure, Rice said.

One person who knows just what that headache feels like is Rich Meeusen, co-founder of The Water Council and CEO of Badger Meter, a manufacturer of water meters and other flow measurement products near Milwaukee.

In early December, Meeusen walked into a condo in a downtown Milwaukee building that he owns and stumbled upon a dreadful scenario: a half-inch of sewage covered the entire floor. Apparently the tenant above had tried to flush something down the toilet that he or she shouldn’t have, and it clogged the pipes. The mess was seeping down into a bridal shop downstairs, which was closed at the time, he said.

So there he was, mopping up sewage in a suit and Allen Edmonds dress shoes, he said. The one silver lining: the bridal gowns were protected by plastic coverings. But the episode could cost Meeusen more than $20,000 in repairs, he said.

“When I first looked at Noah Technologies I thought, I’m not sure how much demand there would be for this product,” Meeusen said. “You’re insuring yourself against a potential catastrophe, but most people would look at it and go, ‘That would never happen to me.’”

Now that it has happened to Meeusen, he said he’s going to strongly consider installing the Intelli-Sensor in the building so he avoids another calamity.

“I’ve got a feeling the insurance premiums are going to go up if I don’t,” Meeusen said. “It’s like a smoke detector. You put it in your house, and you hope it’s never going to go off, other than for burning a roast.”

Meeusen thinks the Intelli-Sensor is a solid technology that meets a need, but it will “take some salesmanship” from Noah Technologies to make the product a success in the market.

“It’s like life insurance. Nobody buys life insurance; it has to be sold to them,” Meeusen said.

Rice acknowledged the challenge of marketing the product. Getting accepted into the seed accelerator program is helping, he said.

Through the seed accelerator program, organized by The Water Council, a Milwaukee-based water industry group, Noah Technologies received office space in the organization’s Global Water Center near downtown Milwaukee. The interaction with fellow startups, water industry experts, and more established water companies has been invaluable, Rice said.

“We have got many prospects coming along, some of which were generated entirely from the Water Council,” Rice said.

For example, the developers of a planned water business park adjacent to the Global Water Center have expressed interest in installing Noah Technologies’ product in the future buildings.

“We’re committed to including as many of the appropriate technologies that are being spawned by The Water Council as possible,” said Michael Weiss, president of General Capital Group, located in nearby Fox Point. “We think it’ll be a great showcase for the greater Milwaukee water cluster.”

Jeff Engel is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @XconomyWI

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