Wellntel Aims to Sprout Groundwater Info Market With Sonar Device

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reaches its goal, it will then need to deftly manage a vast amount of data in different ways for different audiences, from farmers to public agencies, he adds. But he believes Wellntel has the right strategy for deploying the devices. The startup plans to go to market primarily through well maintenance firms, who can recommend Wellntel’s device to well owners as a way to proactively manage their pump equipment and water supply.

The technology and market strategy have attracted investors and other backers. Wellntel raised $1.2 million from angel investors last year, and is currently seeking another $800,000. Last week, the company was accepted into The Water Council’s water tech startup accelerator program at its Global Water Center near downtown Milwaukee. The accelerator, entering its second year, gives each startup a $50,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., office space, and access to water industry mentors and potential business partners.

Singer and Hayes have sales and marketing backgrounds and previously ran a consulting business together, FiveTwelve Group, that mainly served large corporations in the water and energy sectors.

They have so far only hired contractors to help develop Wellntel’s technology. They expect to add three more full-time employees by next year.

Wellntel dataWellntel’s stated goal of 350,000 installations in the next few years represents slightly less than 3 percent of the 12 million private wells nationwide, the company says. But Singer and Hayes realize that not every well owner will see a need for their technology. Hayes frames it like this: “You can achieve grand-scale data density and help a lot of folks by only outfitting about 3 percent of wells.”

Wellntel’s co-founders see their startup as more of a data analytics and technology developer than a manufacturing company. They say they were inspired by the Netherlands, where water-related businesses have sprouted from an abundance of publicly available groundwater data. It will take years and a lot of work, but they believe Wellntel’s devices can spark the same movement in the U.S. and, eventually, around the world. As part of this larger plan, they’re developing related products, such as devices that measure water quality.

“From a little water technology startup in Milwaukee, our goal wasn’t to be a sensor company at all,” Hayes says. “It was to invent the groundwater information business and democratize it.”

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Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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