How 120Water Profitably Multiplied Its Customer Base by 50 in 4 Years

When Megan Glover co-founded 120Water in 2016, she was driven by a personal mission sparked by the Flint water crisis. As a concerned consumer and a seasoned marketing executive, she saw a glaring gap in the accessibility of water quality testing for everyday people. Fast forward to 2024, and 120Water has transformed from a consumer-focused startup to a robust B2B company, scaling its customer base by 50 times in just four years!

This incredible journey is a testament to strategic pivots, innovative solutions, and a relentless focus on customer needs, let’s explore it:

with 🎙️ Megan Glover, CEO & Co-Founder at 120Water

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🔗 120Water’s website

🔗 Come say Hi to Megan Glover on LinkedIn

🔗 Tom Ferguson‘s hint: Emulate Megan’s approach

🔗 Johnny Pujol explains how SimpleLab and 120Water work together

🔗 120Water teams up with BlueConduit

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is on Linkedin ➡️

Full Video:

The Early Days: From B2C to B2B

120Water’s initial vision was to serve consumers directly, providing water testing kits to anyone concerned about their tap water. However, as they rolled out their first major project with a water utility in Pittsburgh, it became evident that the real demand and opportunity lay within the B2B market.

Pittsburgh’s utility was overwhelmed with a backlog of 4,000 water testing kits, struggling to manage the logistics and communication with residents. 120Water stepped in, slashing the backlog from four months to just 14 days by modernizing the entire process​​​​.

Strategic Shifts and Expansion

Recognizing the broader potential, 120Water pivoted to focus on utilities and government agencies. This shift wasn’t just about targeting a different customer base but also about developing a comprehensive digital water platform that included cloud-based software, point-of-use kits, and a suite of services to manage drinking water programs.

One of the critical moves in 120Water’s expansion was building strong partnerships with state-level rural water associations. These associations became invaluable in reaching smaller utilities, which make up 85% of the U.S. water market. By leveraging the associations’ established relationships and on-the-ground presence, 120Water could scale its operations more efficiently and effectively.

Regulatory Tailwinds

The regulatory landscape played a significant role in 120Water’s growth. New regulations, particularly around lead and copper in drinking water, created a pressing need for better data management and compliance tools. 120Water’s platform excelled in digitizing and managing these compliance requirements, making it an indispensable tool for utilities navigating these new mandates.

In 2022, anticipating the nationwide need for digital lead service line inventories, 120Water launched a new software application tailored to help regulators manage vast amounts of incoming data from water systems. This move alone added approximately 5,000 licensed customers to their roster, significantly boosting their market presence​​.

Technological Innovation and Adaptation

120Water’s technological edge lies in its ability to adapt and expand its offerings based on customer needs and regulatory changes. Their platform not only digitizes data but also integrates various workflows, such as sample site locations, communications, and remediation processes, making it a comprehensive tool for water quality management.

Moreover, 120Water’s partnership with BlueConduit to incorporate machine learning for predictive analytics exemplifies their commitment to innovation. This collaboration enhances their ability to help utilities identify and prioritize lead service line replacements, further solidifying their value proposition.

Marketing and Customer Trust

Despite the complexity of the water sector, 120Water has effectively leveraged its marketing expertise to build trust and transparency with both utilities and end consumers.

By offering public transparency dashboards and direct communication channels, they ensure that consumers are well-informed about the safety of their water. This approach not only builds trust but also positions 120Water as a consumer-centric brand within a B2B framework.

Financial Milestones and Future Directions

120Water’s growth trajectory has been bolstered by strategic financial decisions. In early 2024, they secured a $43 million investment from Edison Partners. This funding is earmarked for both organic growth and potential acquisitions, allowing 120Water to explore new market segments and expand its platform capabilities​​.

Looking ahead, 120Water aims to become a household name, synonymous with water quality and safety. Their vision includes not only expanding their software capabilities but also possibly extending their reach internationally as regulatory environments evolve globally.

To remember (before listening!)

120Water’s remarkable growth story is a blend of strategic pivots, regulatory alignment, technological innovation, and effective marketing. By transforming from a consumer-focused startup to a leading provider of digital water solutions for utilities, 120Water has set a new standard in the water industry. Their journey underscores the importance of adaptability, customer focus, and leveraging regulatory changes to drive growth. As they continue to expand, 120Water is poised to make an even greater impact on water quality management and public health.

In the words of Megan Glover, “We want to be a great company right? Just bringing continuous value to our customers, healthy economics, and at the end of the day, I think hopefully four years from now we are a household name”.

My Full Conversation with Megan Glover on 120Water’s Path

These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂

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Antoine Walter: Hi Megan. Welcome back to the show.

Megan Glover: Thank you so much for having me!

Antoine Walter: Super excited to have you for full set of reasons, but one of these reasons that since we recorded, I had lots of people giving and using your example to say. If you have to pick one way of doing entrepreneurship right in the water sector, look at what Megan did. So I thought I could synthesize everything they said, or I could just make you listen to that one.

Tom Ferguson: Megan Glover at 120 was probably at the vanguard of this, we were starting to see people build revenues faster than anybody had ever seen it before. this was one of the first times I’d seen an outsider do this.

Marketing background, decided she wanted to do something about water, and then, I think it was about 350 people she spoke to. She was so bored by the end of it, and she was exactly right, because when you get bored, that’s where you’re, again, you’re seeing diminishing marginal surprises. So you can get to, A very thin gap between reality and your understanding of reality.

Antoine Walter: When we first spoke in 2021, you mentioned the 350 interviews, and that got like V1 of 120 water. I would believe though that by v2, 3, don’t know how you would define it. 120 warder is a bit different.

So would you call it a pivot? And what’s the story?

Megan Glover: Oh goodness. by the way, I love Tom. Tom Ferguson, big fan, always a big fan. And, he’s too kind, so we removed the audit,

That was a decision that we made, after our series a investment to remove the audit, because in our countless interviews with customers in the market, they said, that’s really scary. term audit, no one wants to be audited. that was one of the byproducts of, we knew we wanted to expand the 120 water platform.

Through, various software applications through our different product lines, such as water testing kits, pitcher filter remediation kits, communications and we strategically remove the audit one because, the market told us it was scary and we agreed and then, to extend and kind of broaden the platform and the products that we could put under that one 20 water brand.

Antoine Walter: So you want it to expand the product and have more things within the brand. It still sounds to me like you laser focused on a specific section of the market. Is that right?

Megan Glover: You know, I wish I could say that, but we actually broadened it. so one 20, water now versus 2021, we actually now have three separate software applications that we sell into the drinking water sector. if we kind of, size that sector, From the top down, the top being the actual regulators.

 That have to conform to these new regulations and execute compliance across their state or jurisdiction. We have a software application that helps. then the utilities, the boots on the ground, as we like to say, execute those compliance events and programs. And then we also have a facilities application that’s used primarily for drinking water and water quality testing across multiple facilities and buildings, across all 50 states in the U.


Antoine Walter: So let’s maybe nerdy and techie upfront. That means three different pieces of software, which are fully independent, or is it a platform where you can activate or deactivate one or the other?

Megan Glover: Yeah. So we benefit from everything the cloud has to offer and that everything is hosted, in Amazon Web Services and we have shared backends and microservices. So what I mean by that is, let’s say we have a communications module across all of our different platforms.

the code and microservices are leveraged across all of the platforms. But the front end, is vastly different depending on the customer segment and how they need to interface with the software application. So, for the most part, same backend and architecture and infrastructure, but the front end is vastly different.

Antoine Walter: So if you have to define 120water, is it a software company?

Megan Glover: we are on a journey to become more of a software company for sure. we’ve traditionally been what I would call technology enabled services where about a quarter of the business was software and the rest was products and services, but over the last 24 months. we’ve actually seen our product mix even out and, that’s been really interesting, in terms of how we staff and the processes we put in place because, operating a software company is very different than a technology enabled services company.

It’s also probably Much more of an uptake potentially. I mean, a software company, sky’s the limit, a water company, if you’re not gradient, sky is more of a glass ceiling. Yeah. that’s what we love, the three separate kind of software applications that we have is that we can make demonstrable progress in a matter of two releases. we can bring wholly new programs, that our customers can use to manage, other things in water, in six weeks versus, hardware or other services that may take a lot longer to, put into the market and create.

So we’re having a lot of fun.

Antoine Walter: So it’s interesting because from my perspective, when reviewing your news, your blog entries, your website, you’re posting on LinkedIn. My impression was that you had narrowed down and focused on lead, which sounds to me like. The one thing, not that you cannot do other stuff, but that’s really the one thing where you have that super high, market reaction and traction. Is that remotely true? Or is it really like you’re offering the full bandwidth and others might not take the same sunlight, but they are equally important.

Megan Glover: So now we’re getting into a little bit of the secret sauce here.

the adoption for our software the tailwinds, are primarily regulatory driven and that regulation is led, particularly here in the U. S. the interesting part about that regulation is, yes, the contaminant is lead But it’s a data management issue at the root cause of what we’re doing.

we are combining data sets from either legacy databases or tap cards or file cabinets and digitizing it in a way that our customers have never seen their data combined. and then when you layer on the program app management aspect of what we do, whether that’s around sample site locations.

Or, communications, whether that be email, letter or microsite, enablement. it’s pretty magical to watch their data come to life and then they have those light bulbs to say, Oh, well, if I’m using you to do my, lead program, why wouldn’t I be doing all of my water quality parameters with you through your sample management or, if I’m sending, your customer notifications for a lead exceedance.

Why aren’t I using your automated letter and email sending for all of my other communications? We were a little bit of ahead of the market. If I’m being honest with the features and functions that were in our technology, probably two years ago. And right now, now that the market is seeing their data come to life and how our platform is able to manage those programs, light bulbs are going off and saying, well, I could also be using you for this.

Lead is keeping us very busy because we do it better than anybody else. But, the full scope and capabilities, the platform, goes far beyond just lead program management.

Antoine Walter: What makes you do all of that better than anybody else? Be the lead or what you said about Transforming a utility into a cool kit because now they can very very smoothly communicate with their users.

Megan Glover: . I did not think this was an advantage at the time when I started the company. But because I felt like an outsider and really, really truly felt like an outsider. but I can say now almost 10 years in, it is precisely that outside experience that is allowing to bring these, Capabilities to the water sector because I lived them in previous lives through various software as a service companies.

if you look at our platform and the different modules that we’ve created, some of my past experience and other technologies has DNA, right? Whether that be through the communications module, which, I did, content management platforms and email marketing platforms and marketing automation platforms for, five years,

to inventory management, which I did through point of sale an inventory control. So again, I think it’s knowing technically what’s possible and bringing that to water has been a huge advantage, for us as we’ve built out our capabilities.

Antoine Walter: Let’s go back through your steps to Where we left it roughly three years ago. So in 2021 now Finally lockdown is over. You can go out in the real world. I was about to say but yeah let’s take some numbers for people to get that straight Between the last time we spoke and today if I do my maths roughly, right? You’ve multiplied your customer base by 20 Is that remotely true?

Megan Glover: Up,

Antoine Walter: More than that.

Megan Glover: Yeah, I think we were maybe 200 customers three years ago, and now we serve over 10, 000, direct and licensed customers.

Antoine Walter: Okay. I have the numbers. you’re right. It’s more because in 2021 you do a five x to 250. So that means when we spoke, you must have been somewhere on that road between 50 and 250. By 2022, you are at 550. By 2023 you are at 5,500, and the one I didn’t have is that there’s still two x after that, which is 10,000 Today.

What is. the driver of that growth and you can give me only one answer.

Megan Glover: We launched a new software application, that allowed us to acquire more licensed customers.

Antoine Walter: When does that happen?

Megan Glover: This had been an honor, a strategic roadmap for quite some time. But as you know, Tom points out, and I’m a big believer of market fit. if you don’t get the timing around market fit. Right. You waste a lot of money. and money is our most precious resource, right? Cash is King.

A couple of years ago, we had identified the need at our state regulator customer base that they were likely to have a need, to manage this vast amount of data coming in from their water systems as a result of the lead and copper rule. So let me dial it down just a little bit in October here in the United States, every single water system, so 150, 000 of them are going to have to submit digital copies of their lead service line inventories and most regulators states don’t have a tool to consume.

That amount of data. And if they did have a tool, they don’t have it in a way to, Hey, tell me what the data is telling me and how is that going to improve my workflow as a regulator? Because, again, they’re going to get all of these inventories coming in all at once. And so that’s a massive, data problem for them.

So long story short, this had always roadmap. We did some. Early what we call lean canvas studies with this customer segment and said, if we were to launch a product like this, would it be helpful to you? Validated enough that we felt comfortable spending the resources on it. And then , we launched that product in late 20, 22.

And since then, you know, we’ve acquired, about 5, 000, licensed customers through that product application.

Antoine Walter: Let me check if I get that one right. The regulation comes in late 2020, right? And gives until October, 2024. So October of this year, everybody to be up to speed with their inventory of lead lines. And I understand you’re right. You identify three problems Some data is existing, but it’s scattered and it’s in a way which is difficult to acquire.

Some data doesn’t exist. You need to do an inventory to capture that data. And on the government level, they might get all that data, but if they don’t know how to manage it, well, it’s data for nothing. So those are the three. And hence you develop three solutions, which answer those three problems.

Megan Glover: Absolutely.

Antoine Walter: Which one comes first?

Is it like chicken and egg and the three have to grow together? Or what’s the first one you tackle?

Megan Glover: The data management.

Antoine Walter: legacy data, which now you want to integrate,

Megan Glover: Yes. And we’ve developed a proprietary, process called Athena, which, essentially normalizes, all of the data. We use, some data science and some predictive modeling against our existing customers data set, as well as what we’re able to procure, through third party systems.

And, we’re able to return that data. cleaner, than we get it. So it’s really allowed us to scale all our offering and ensure that we can, not only scale our offering, but, make sure our customers have as clean of a data set as possible going into October.

Antoine Walter: having a clean data set is nice. but what’s the value they get out of that. Is it compliance that they just have to do it or is there any other underlying value?

Megan Glover: Yes, it’s checking a box in that you are in compliance that you’re going to have a data set in time for October. But again, because of our proprietary process, Athena, we can also weed out certain data sets to basically. Lessen the workload. I don’t mean to like totally nerd out on the weeds of the regulation, but essentially, unknowns and lead are bad, in that you’re going to have to do work against all leads or all unknowns within your system.

So if we’re able to use data science to at least take a common denominator and say, you don’t have to worry about these because appended or validated certain pieces of your data sets, then that’s less work that you have to do. with your baseline inventory. it’s twofold. Generally, we’re able to cut out, some of the work they have to do through our data appending.

and then also, make sure that they have something that’s submittable in October to achieve compliance.

Antoine Walter: And so Once they’ve achieved compliance in October, in November, they give up their 120 water license, job’s done, they don’t need you anymore.

Megan Glover: Oh, I wish. Unfortunately, that’s just when the job starts.

Antoine Walter: jokes aside, what I would imagine, and I think we discussed that last time as well, is that, , there’s this studies of the EPA, which start in the 80s, of what would be needed just to keep the same level of service. On drinking water lines in the U S and unfortunately, the backlog goes up. it started slightly below 100 billion and.

Nowadays, it’s as far as a billion, where i’m heading with that is that you have limited means You need to have the best bang for your buck and probably the best way to do that is to be very determined about where you want to replace some lines.

And that’s where I would see from my very distant eye, the maximum value, which I could grasp out of 120 water. What’s your opinion on that?

Megan Glover: infrastructure funds. We’re grateful for them, but they’re simply a down payment. They’re not going to solve the underlying problem, right? utilities have to get very. Deliberate and judicious about where they are going to put their resources because inevitably they’re probably going to have to increase rates or figure out where to cut other expenses in order to eventually replace all of lead lines in their system.

 And that’s where the program management piece of our software comes into value with our customers because we’re able to help them. Pinpoint the areas, whether that’s applying, disadvantaged data overlay onto their inventory or other types of means to help them prioritize, go here first. because this is the area of most need, or potentially this is the low hanging fruit that you can rule out.

Megan Glover: That’s exactly where like the program management and the value after October comes into play with one 20 is we’re going to help you, essentially run those programs that are going to whittle down Your exact needs of the problem.

Antoine Walter: We heard, Tom in the beginning, you met Tom in an accelerator with Imagine H2O, then for weird reasons, he didn’t invest in you. I don’t get that, but that’s a different story.

What you did is you joined a different accelerator, the elemental accelerator. I had Kim Baker on that microphone even longer ago than I had you.

 Everybody praises you as the thing one should do in entrepreneurship. And you’re saying, well, I can still do better. Let me join an accelerator. What does bring you at that stage of 120v2 when you joined accelerator?

Megan Glover: Oh, Kim, another one of my favorite people. that’s a great question. We have always had such immense value going through these accelerators and incubators because it’s almost like it, it’s own skunk works project of the business, , it’s this concentrated time for us to.

solve or try to solve a problem in industry with unprecedented people at the table and minds. so we’ve already always just considered that somewhat of R and D investment, right? If it works, great. And here’s a safe space to have it work. And if not, then we can write it off, in terms of research and development.

But that’s how we’ve always viewed these accelerators and incubators. Let’s really use this to kind of incubate that next generation of Thing at 120 water and hopefully it works out. Elemental is just, again, unprecedented access to folks in industry to really fully bake those concepts and ideas.

Antoine Walter: Is it what took you to Hawaii or is it a different story?

Megan Glover: And then it takes you to Hawaii, right? Which, unfortunately I didn’t get to go because I was too busy CEO ing, I think at that time, but I know I, would encourage anybody to take advantage of those, like particularly in water, because it takes a village and you never know who you’re gonna meet.

in those experiences, that’s going to help you along the way.

Antoine Walter: I mentioned that half as a joke, but half as a fact as well, which is that you are running out in Hawaii water,

Megan Glover: Yes.

Antoine Walter: which got me curious because when I look at your websites, there are so many news of you’re working with that state’s rural water, that state’s rural water. You’re a growth stage company.

And it seems like your crowd is that scattered atomized landscape of super small utilities. What’s your go to market? How do you reach them?

Megan Glover: the U S water market is very fragmented. 85 percent of the U S water market is rural water. , you know, reaching the large, what I call NFL, communities, as well as the investor owned, we knew how to reach those folks back in 2020, 21. But we as a business did want to go down market because we believe that our mission.

everyone deserves the technology that Denver Water uses. we’re really out on a mission and a journey to democratize the technology and access to technology all the way down to the smallest of systems. so, we had to do some research and trial and error to figure out how do we do that at scale?

And one, should we even do it? So it was a bet we made, but it’s a bet that’s paid off because what we’ve really found linked into is, our strong partnerships at the state level with these rural water associations that really become these trusted advisors to these rural communities.

And we not only, affiliate partner with them in terms of they do a lot of our education. They take a lot of our content to educate, their communities, but we also leverage them as boots in the field. they have circuit riders that go around and their sole job is to go around and help these water systems.

And, we leverage their services in the field as well to execute on our behalf. So it’s really been what I believe is a one plus one equals three type relationship because not only are we helping them. Provide more value to their communities, but they’re helping us kind of reach these communities at scale.

Antoine Walter: So let me take the devil’s advocate role here.

Megan Glover: Mm hmm.

Antoine Walter: If you go through the rural water associations, that means you’re no longer directly customer facing. How do you still get that super valuable feedback, which made you what you are today?

Megan Glover: This is lessons learned from failed partnerships in the past We still remain the face of that partnership. So it’s more of a referral type partnership than it What I would call like a resale partnership. And that’s just based on experience. , we’ve had some failed partnerships in the past where someone did take that, , front face view.

Antoine Walter: And, that didn’t work. but if we can remain kind of as a referral, there’s a handoff, right? someone raises their hand, they would like to work with 120. And then that’s when we come in and directly serve them as a customer. You mentioned 85% Our rule systems i’m gonna say something if it’s stupider than me because again i’m distant european But if i’m right, it’s also this 85 percent of the utilities which have three employees or lesser that means They are super busy running around greasing the pumps ensuring that Everything just keeps afloat. Something I discussed with Josiah Cox from Central State Water Resources. How do they prioritize in their day, this sometimes abstract topic of compliance and of digitization, which is a big word.

Megan Glover: Well, that is why we will never, ever be. a pure software company because this market needs and deserves strong managed services, right? and that’s something that I think it’s taken new investors in this market. it’s a learning curve for them. I think that the level of managed services needed, but it’s necessary.

And it’s either necessary because, there aren’t enough resources and many water systems need to augment that. and then it’s also necessary because, we’re doing new things and sometimes doing new things requires a train the trainer model, for a certain period of time. So how we solve for it is we are very proud of the managed services that we provide.

and that’s, you know, also we do that through partners as well. if we don’t particularly do them, we will train our partners how to do it,

Antoine Walter: You mentioned partners. You also said you’re not only a software company, but you’re partially a software company. And you have one of these very trendy buzzwords in your track record, which is machine learning.

Megan Glover: Mm.

Antoine Walter: what’s that stuff you’re doing with Blue Conduit?

Megan Glover: Yes. So blue conduit is it’s been a very good partnership for us. I have to laugh because for a while there, everyone thought we were super competitive. And then when we did announcement, I think it kind of people like, oh, my gosh, what’s going on? But the reality is the partnership was so natural because we’re each playing to our strengths.

If that makes sense. we have a, predictive intelligence machine learning model. they have one as well. But the reality is when. We went to go focus on building out more software and more capabilities there. that’s money that needed to be taken away from our machine learning practice. And so it just made natural sense to say, Hey, blue conduit, you want to do this work.

you can do this at scale better than we can. Can you be our primary provider of this and let’s formalize a partnership. And , worked out very, very well. Again, we’re able to bring their data into our system so that, our mutual customers can act on that. And then we’re able to give all of that, predictive learning to them and they work their magic.

So it’s a win win.

Antoine Walter: So you mentioned everybody thought you were competitors and then you surprised everybody. So let me throw in another company with simple lab where I was absolutely sure you would be competitors. And when I said that to Johnny, No, we are different levels of the value chain and we’re customers one to another.

So what would be your relationship with all that ecosystem?

Megan Glover: Yeah, I’ve actually referred people to Johnny. I think we certainly can be competitive, if put in that situation, but the reality is Our lab services can connect, we’re agnostic, We can connect into a Johnny API just like we could connect to a Pace Analytical or, another type of laboratory.

Antoine Walter: So, the way we built our laboratory services, model in our software is we can just plug and play. we can work with in house labs, out house labs, or a company like Johnny’s and it’s kind of all the same to us, So all those different bricks connect through APIs are complimentary one to another. So at a certain point in time, there’s going to be a consolidation and building a vertical. Will you be the one which eats all the other ones or are you a brick in the world?

Megan Glover: I think we’ll let, Johnny continue to build out that vertical. How about that?

Antoine Walter: Interesting.

Megan Glover: no, I literally just talked to Johnny last week, so he’s top of mind and I just had to say that.

It’s so interesting because I think we are the front end. it’s almost the relationship has to coexist between a one 20 water and either a Johnny or a number of labs, because what we’re finding is that laboratory balancing and bringing sampling at scale, given what’s happening in terms of the regulatory environment is the only way these samples are going to get processed, whether it’s lead PFAS or the next step.

thing. there has to be some conglomerate that is aggregating all of these samples on behalf of these programs that are being run because . There’s not enough physical infrastructure, to get all the sampling done. Exactly.

Antoine Walter: There is this deadline by October, 2024 for leads to be fully inventory now. And for some weeks now, as we record. There’s a new deadline with 2027 by when you should be measuring your PFAS and it sounds like the next thing which will require every single Little water system to do compliance where to do some testing to coordinate all of that I was discussing with megan plumley from orange county, she was saying That was so much of a mess that they had to invest heavily In order to insource and have all of those capacity in house, but that’s orange county.

That’s what you said about Everybody would like to be Denver water, but not everybody’s Denver water. How can you, I mean, it’s a different beast to do the same with PFAS or is it like just another parameter.

Megan Glover: I don’t want to oversimplify it because there are definitely some sampling needs that are unique to PFAS over any other parameter, but logistically, it’s the same. And again, that’s why conversations with Johnny and other labs, we are in this unique position to be able to, it’s called load balancing, right?

To, to bring sampling to any crevice of the United States and territories. And that’s a huge value, especially to these rural communities and even tribal communities where, they don’t know how they’re going to get access, to a PFAS sampling lab. or if they do, the lab might, charge them some astronomical price because it’s so hard for them to get there and to return the samples.

So it’s an area that we are very capable and even have been experimenting with some partners, at present to figure out how we, Solve that need.

Antoine Walter: So if I was to sneak in your outfits and look at a roadmap, the next big topic is PFAS,

That’s one where are the others?

Megan Glover: that’s one. you know, the others, I don’t know if I can give all of this away. Right. Um, but figuring out the sample management for PFOS is definitely a high priority for us and we’re already getting asked to do that.

So making sure that we know how to do that and can deliver that on scale and make sure that we have the. Laboratory services network to back it up is you’re right. It is definitely priority between now and the end of the year.

Antoine Walter: Let’s talk money, if you will.

what is your business model today? Are you selling software licenses? Are you also still offering these tech enabled services, which you mentioned in the beginning. where do you get the money from?

Megan Glover: We basically three categories of revenue. we license our software applications and those have different license levels, depending on the functionality, that the customer’s purchasing. We have our services, both professional services, as well as managed service packages. And again, those are built for, those systems that.

want more recurring monthly services from our team. And then we have products. So all of our water testing kits and sampling skews letters. we do the majority of our mailings on behalf of our customers and that’s automated through our platform and then all remediation. So that’s the picture filter remediation kits.

we’re growing in all three of those areas, and we don’t have any plans to discontinue one over the other, and , we’ll just kind of grow as demand in the market grows and consumes those different lines.

Antoine Walter: There’s this elephant in the room, which I haven’t addressed yet. But as we talk money, that’s the place I have to.

You’ve made a spectacular capital raise in early 2024 with a , 43 million raise from Edison partners. What does that enable you to do? And what’s the story of that one?

Megan Glover: yes, that is the 43 million elephant in the room. It’s been a passion and a vision of mine to just continue to expand the platform but not at the expense of our core customers, right. And that’s really our utility customers. And particularly the lead programs that we are just so, great at executing, right.

our customers through the one 20 platform. we wanted to keep the core business intact and profitable while exploring adjacencies, in water, whether that means adjacencies in the utility space or potentially, in other segments of the market Edison partners, we had known them for, I think all in, we knew them for about.

36 months before we actually did the deal, they would come back really annoying, , just, are you ready yet? Are you ready? And, we knew we needed to get the business to a certain place, particularly from a cashflow perspective, because we didn’t want to be reliant on, having to raise a single dime, on that core business.

We wanted all of the investment that we raised primarily to go through growth and growth in other areas. Long story short, the timing kind of finally aligned when Edison came back about a year ago and said, we’re still interested. And I said, okay, I think, I think we’ve gotten, we’ve gotten, The economics of, of one 20, about there, we have an installed customer race , where we, projected and really wanted to be.

Antoine Walter: And, they believed, most importantly in the vision of one 20 and, and how can we really invest both in inorganic and organic growth, of one 20 water to really build a platform with a capital P. Let’s make a picture of what 120 water was the minute before Edison invested. So you mentioned you secured your three pillars. That means the core of 120 water is growing with its natural pace, turning with its annual recurring revenue and profitable. Then you say you want to explore adjacencies. What are those adjacencies?

Megan Glover: lead is just one parameter across hundreds of water quality parameters that our customers are managing on a daily basis. there’s a lot more opportunity that we could be doing, in the water quality space when you go into the asset and infrastructure space. , we now have the largest lead service line database, in the United States, with, our millions of lines under management.

So we have one toe already in asset management and visibility into that. So there’s, you know, infrastructure and asset management areas, to go into and then. there are just, other compliance events that our customers have to do that maybe aren’t water quality related or asset management related, but because we house a lot of that data already, it might make sense for us to build out additional capabilities and functionality.

so again, lead is just 1 of many things our customers are doing on a daily basis. And we’d like to be doing more for them.

Antoine Walter: So the third part in what you said was that there would be organic and inorganic growth. What’s your idea of inorganic growth?

Megan Glover: I’m a big fan of, deciding build, buy and partner, not everything should be built in house. if there’s a, potential value to partner or buy a solution, right? I think combining forces can sometimes be a one plus one equals three equations, for the customer.

And so, you know, We’ve only been invested what three and a half, four months. So it’s not like we have this strategy baked out, but there are certainly areas and companies where we think, it probably makes a stronger, case to either partner in a more embedded way or even potentially buy.

Antoine Walter: So you have good and strong ideas, but you can’t share yet.

Megan Glover: Can’t share yet, but if anyone is interested, you know where to find me. How about that?

Antoine Walter: That’s a good one.

You said several times, particularly in the U. S. So when I hear particularly in the U. S., I also hear, but also potentially somewhere else, to which on lead itself, I know that In paris lead has been installed up to 1992 So it’s not that old that we stop installing lead and as we’re replacing about 0.

2 to 0. 5 percent of networks every year good chances that it’s still in the network for a while The problem though is that when you’re into compliance and regulations and stuff like that It’s very very different from one country to another So is that hurdle too high and you will never go anywhere else than let’s say North America, or you have in a portion of your mind that yeah, what’s Bretschger is doing with building AquaCycle in Europe is something 120Water could do as well in the beautiful church in, in, in, I think Belgium, where they, they installed the European headquarters or some different place.

Megan Glover: I’m never going to say never. think sequencing and timing matters, right? , from a technology standpoint again, we’ve always built, with international thought. So we’re not preventing, technically speaking. But practically, I I think the question is, at what point time would it make sense?

And is that more of a strategic partnership that brings us in, to another international market, or is that something we do internally? SoI would say it’s not on the. near term roadmap, but it’s certainly not off the long term roadmap. How about that?

Antoine Walter: I can’t remember the name of the, the German brothers, which were building, ripoffs of us companies. Oh, Samwerthe, which we’re building Zalando. And then, I mean, every single us company had a European ripoff. So that at some point the us company had to acquire the European ripoff because that was the way to go to market.

So that means if. I build, let’s say, 12 water or 121 water in Europe. And at some point that might be your way to, to jump across and to say, okay, , that’s the way,

Megan Glover: listen, I’d welcome that. You get the infrastructure figured out and that’s a lot easier. That’s a lot more, tangible for me to bite off. So.

Antoine Walter: there was one thing in the announcement , of your money raise, which is not conventional. mentioned that you also took the opportunity to restructure a bit the company to which you’re thinking, as you said today as well, you’re in that for 10 years and it can be harsh to be a water entrepreneur.

And it’s not easy days. Most of the times in the beginning, you don’t pay yourself and so far and so on. Is that the kind of place where you’re thinking, okay, I might also cash out a bit or for your early, employees as well, or is restructuring purely an, investor story.

Megan Glover: We’re , almost 10 years in and for a lot of our early investors, that’s kind of exceeded a fund cycle, you know? And so, , we needed to kind of give those early investors something back and I’m proud to say , everyone stayed in and even some really tried to double that.

So no one wanted to get out, but I think just the nature of, you know, Funds and the life cycle of those funds, it was necessary for some early investors, to get some out, , but only because of fun cycle and needs within their portfolio and not necessarily the excitement about the continued forward on one 20.

So we’re, you know, employees and management myself, we’re all doubling down.

Antoine Walter: So it’s a pure mechanical startling to the funds

Megan Glover: Yeah. , and Edison wanted to, own a particular share as well. So when you’re dealing with a pie and that pie has a finite amount of slices. You just kind of, you figure it out,

Antoine Walter: Before we record it. So people are not supposed to know, but I’m cracking the secret because I’m this kind of untrustworthy person. You said new bosses, but you’re still the boss, right?

Megan Glover: right? Oh, you’re sneaky. I see what you did there.

Antoine Walter: What’s the size of 120 water from a human perspective nowadays, how many people are working? Are you all sitting in the same office? Are you a remote company? what is it like to work at 120 water today? Because I think that might be interesting for people listening to that because you might want to hire more,

Megan Glover: Always. yes. Talent is everything. Our people are everything. and so yes, we’re always hiring across the organization. So we are a little over 90 folks strong. we are a distributed workforce. and became a lot more distributed because of COVID. we’ve never come back into what I would call one central headquarters.

although we are starting to do more, recurring in person. You know, trying to figure out how we structure the space to bring local folks back in a more recurring way. And then also budget for all company gatherings a few times a year, because those are so important as we build on our workforce.

So. We are distributed. some roles are more distributed than others, especially like in sales and customer service and account management. but yeah, that’s, that’s kind of the nature of our work and how we work.

Antoine Walter: which gets me to what are you building in the long run? I mean, We spoke four years ago. So let’s say four years again in the future. What’s one 20 water by then? I mean, you drop one other word and we are one 20 or

Megan Glover: We’re just water, co.

Antoine Walter: that’s a good one. I don’t know if anyone ever tried that.

Megan Glover: We want to be a great company, right? Just bringing continuous value to our customers. healthy economics. and at the end of the day, I think hopefully four years now, we are a household name. you ever hear that saying no one got fired for buying IBM.

Or I don’t know what the equivalent in this century would be, but, I really hope that at some point, 120 can be an operating system that is relied upon, in every utility and every state agency, to do better work, Whether that’s through compliance, other program management that they’re doing, or in the field or in the lab.

question, which I already kind of, addressed in our conversation today is that, when I was speaking with your colleague, In the elemental accelerator matter, you could see that on the long run, having a filter, which eliminates microplastics, that might be something which will be snapped by a major, company building washing machines when I’m discussing with Craig Beckman from aqua membranes, he has this vision of a specialized.

Antoine Walter: subset of membrane companies, which would be coming together. But he also agrees that the most probable path is that one major membrane company is going to snap them and so far and so on. that sounds like, the reasonable, and you don’t have to be reasonable, to be a water entrepreneur.

So it doesn’t have to be that, but it’s the reason outcome in many of the cases. Now it’s might be the limits of my imagination, but when I’m talking to you, when I’m talking to Johnny, when I’m talking to that, I’m talking to kind of super cool kids, but also weird space within the water ecosystem. I don’t see the giants, which would be able to snap you, which means whether you are building the giants or there is a giant outside of the water sector who thinks, Oh, a water OS, super cool.

What is the most probable outcome out of those two?

Megan Glover: Let me get out my crystal ball. I think where we, and I don’t mean to dismiss the question, but I think, you know, we’re focused on building a great businesses and great businesses have great outcomes. I think we don’t have unicorn expectations because unicorns don’t exist in water.

And if you think they do, then you probably shouldn’t invest in water. so I think if we continue to. Do what we say we’re going to do and build a great business. I think the outcome will present itself. And I do think that there’s, optionality, on that.

and I do think some of the decisions that we make over the next couple of years might help, decide that outcome or those two paths, more firmly. but Yeah, it’s hard to say right now. And I think it’s just, we’re, we’re just trying to get the business, you know, focus on building a great business. and then we do believe that. the good outcomes will come.

Antoine Walter: And what’s the impact you’ll have.

Megan Glover: Exactly. we measure, you know, we measure the lives impacted, right? for every tap that we test or lead service line that we ID, you know, we know that, we’re helping, identify a public health issue, right?

Antoine Walter: So Megan, we’re speaking every time you make a major fundraising. So do you have one more plans or do we need to pick another milestone for the sequel?

Megan Glover: Oh, I think we might have another milestone in a few years. We’ll see.

Antoine Walter: Okay. I promise you this time. I don’t miss any. I really want to have you on the next big milestone. Thanks a lot for the openness in the sharing of your path, which honestly was amazing the first time we spoke is amazing on steroids nowadays. So thanks a lot for that sharing. I think it’s inspirational for people who want to go into that space.

If that’s fine with you, I propose to switch to the rapid fire questions.

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Rapid fire questions:

Antoine Walter: what is the toughest challenge in your opinion for a water tech startup?

Megan Glover: Achieving traction.

Antoine Walter: What would be your best single piece of advice for the founders and managers of the about 1000 early stage water startups?

Megan Glover: take your plan and multiply the timeline by three at least and your cash by three at least.

Antoine Walter: Segway, is it what happened to you?

Megan Glover: Oh, absolutely. Well, you know, then peppered in with a COVID. I mean, no one had that on the business plan.

Antoine Walter: That’s the problem.

Megan Glover: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Antoine Walter: The video game becomes more difficult. What’s the drop of knowledge you wish more investors knew about the water sector?

Megan Glover: I do wish that some investors. Understood that there are no unicorns in water.

Antoine Walter: Well, technically there’s one.

Megan Glover: Technically, there’s one. One in every bunch, I guess, huh?

Antoine Walter: What was your most unexpected partnership and what did it bring you?

Megan Glover: Unexpected. the failed ones brought us a lot of wasted money, but I will tell you, it has to be our national world water. it brought us access to communities that we would not have otherwise been able to tap into directly.

Antoine Walter: Any failed one which you can share?

Megan Glover: I don’t think I can name them on record. I think I might have a confidentiality cause, but be careful about those corporates. they will take, take, take and suck you and, um, and not much to show for it

Antoine Walter: Super short, profitability or growth.

Megan Glover: right now. Profitability

Antoine Walter: And

Megan Glover: growth always,

Antoine Walter: What’s the next profile you’ll hire?

Megan Glover: chief product officer

Antoine Walter: Interesting. And when you hire that chief product officer, what’s the most important for you? Sector experience or startup experience?

Megan Glover: for this one is going to be sector.

Antoine Walter: So a water person, which is a chief product officer for a digital product. And you say e commerce don’t exist, but you’re looking for one, right?

Megan Glover: We’re looking for one, we may or may not have found one. So announcement coming soon.

Antoine Walter: would you be opening new markets or doubling down on the current ones?

Megan Glover: doubling down.

Antoine Walter: What’s that tool nobody speaks about, but you couldn’t live without?

Megan Glover: My pencil.

Antoine Walter: That’s a first. Ah, interesting. What’s the single piece of insight your ideal customer needs to hear right now?

Megan Glover: That it’s going to be okay.

Antoine Walter: Because it’s a big thing.

Megan Glover: our customers are in a pressure cooker. what I like to say is we are 50 percent problem solvers. and executors and sometimes 50 percent therapists, just because our customers have so much on their plates it’s going to be okay, but sometimes in the moment it doesn’t feel like it, right?

Antoine Walter: What are you desperately needing and want to raise an open call for right now?

Megan Glover: So yes, we are hiring and would love to hear from anybody who would like to join the fastest growing water technology company.

Antoine Walter: Do you have like an formal number of positions open or is it like whoever wants to send in their resume?

Megan Glover: I mean, we’re always hiring customer success managers. We’re always hiring, sales folks, both, at all experience levels and then, engineers. So software engineers, but honestly, we just, we will take any resume and, follow up with, talented folks when we get them.

Antoine Walter: What can and should I do for you?

Megan Glover: keep doing what you’re doing. I shared with you off the record, the I love that the content that you are. producing and the conversations, are just incredible. So, thank you for, spreading the word and having us all, share our stories and just keep doing what you’re doing.

Antoine Walter: Well, that’s something I can do. That’s cool. Excellent. That’s the place for me to do that. That plug, which is you. mentioned very clearly the type of profile you’ll be looking into. So if you are one of those profiles, well, I think if you haven’t got yet the message that Megan is super cool, I just will state it again.

Megan is super cool. Reach out. So where should they reach out? What’s the best place to follow up with you?

Megan Glover: Oh, my directly, my email is Megan, M E G A N at one 20 water. com. so definitely reach out directly and, yeah, I think, you know, we’re going to be looking for roles in leadership and all sorts of things. So whether it’s partnerships or talent or whatnot, would love to hear from you.

Antoine Walter: As always, the links are in the description. So if you’re watching, listening to that, go check it out. Megan, it’s been a renewed pleasure to have you on that microphone. Thanks a lot. And I really think we should not wait four more years to have a sequel of the sequel. So whenever you have a next big milestone, make sure to come on the microphone before I even dare to ask you.

Megan Glover: My pleasure. It’s always, so fun to be with you.

Thanks a lot.Thank you.

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