How Aqua Membranes Prints Three Dimensional Benefits for Mesh Addicts

In the intricate Water Tech World we explore every week, Aqua Membranes has emerged as a pioneer, fundamentally altering how spiral wound membranes are constructed by replacing traditional netting spacers with innovative printed spacer technology. This seemingly simple switch carries profound implications not only for the efficiency and sustainability of water purification systems but also for the businesses and environments they serve.

Let’s explore it:

with 🎙️ Craig Beckman – CEO at Aqua Membranes

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Full Video:

The Genesis of Aqua Membranes’ Innovation

The inception of Aqua Membranes can be traced back to a question about improving the conventional design of spiral wound membranes, specifically the mesh spacer used to create space and turbulence between membrane layers. Traditionally, this mesh is an extruded polymer net, a technology that has remained largely unchanged since its inspiration from grocery bags used for carrying oranges.

Rodney Harrington, the founder, challenged this status quo by asking if there was a better way to create the spacer. This led to the development of a proprietary printing technology that enables direct printing on the membrane surface, creating a three-dimensional structure tailored to specific water treatment needs. This technology not only simplifies the membrane structure but also enhances its performance by optimizing flow dynamics and reducing fouling and energy consumption.

Three-Dimensional Benefits Unfolded

Increased Efficiency

By redesigning the spacer through 3D printing, Aqua Membranes has managed to increase the efficiency of water treatment processes significantly. This efficiency gain translates into lower energy consumption and reduced operational costs, aligning perfectly with the global push towards sustainable industrial practices.

Enhanced Customizability

One of the standout features of Aqua Membranes’ technology is its adaptability. The printed spacers can be customized in real-time to meet specific site conditions and customer needs, a level of customization that is not possible with traditional mesh. This ability to tailor products enhances the membrane’s performance in varying water qualities and operational settings.

Reduced Environmental Impact

The environmental benefits of this technology are manifold. Firstly, the reduction in energy consumption directly decreases the carbon footprint of water treatment processes. Secondly, the increased efficiency and longevity of the membranes reduce the need for frequent replacements, lowering the environmental impact associated with the production and disposal of these components.

The Market Shift and Industry Acceptance

Despite the clear advantages, the shift from conventional mesh to printed spacers has not been immediate or without challenge. The water treatment industry is traditionally conservative, prioritizing reliability and proven technologies over innovation, particularly when operational stability and water quality are at stake.

However, Aqua Membranes’ technology has started to gain traction, evidenced by their partnerships and pilot projects with major industry players. These collaborations are not just a testament to the technology’s potential but also a crucial step in overcoming market inertia. As more companies witness the benefits first-hand, adoption is expected to accelerate, setting a new standard in the industry.

Looking Ahead

The journey of Aqua Membranes highlights a broader trend in industrial innovation: the growing importance of sustainability and efficiency in production processes. As regulatory and societal pressures towards sustainability increase, technologies that offer environmental and operational benefits while maintaining or improving output quality are poised to dominate.

This narrative is not just about a company or an industry but a glimpse into how innovation, driven by sustainability and efficiency, is reshaping markets. Aqua Membranes’ printed spacer technology exemplifies how thinking outside the traditional frameworks can yield solutions that are not only economically viable but also environmentally imperative.

In conclusion, Aqua Membranes’ advancement from traditional mesh to printed spacers is not merely a technical improvement but a significant environmental and economic leap forward. As the technology matures and gains further acceptance, it promises to redefine water treatment processes, making them more efficient, adaptable, and sustainable.

This is a clear signal that the future of industrial water treatment is here, and it is being printed in three dimensions.

My Full Conversation with Craig Beckman on Membrane Spacers (and Beyond!)

These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂

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Antoine Walter: Hi, Craig. Welcome to the show. Thank you much. Appreciate being here. You will be the one having a radio voice today because my voice is a bit broken. So sorry for that. But that all starts with a very, very, very simple question for the stupid, which in that room is me. What is a spiral one membranes spacer?

Craig Beckman: So the story goes, and I don’t know if it’s a hundred percent reality, but I like the story started with a bag of oranges, early days, Livermore labs, inventing membrane technology and some of the early pioneers. had found a flat sheet membrane that would actually separate water and salt cellulose acetate based, but then it had to actually be put in a form factor.

You actually had to separate and get water over the surface of the membrane. And they were struggling with what type of material could we stack between the layers of membrane to actually get adequate flow and a little bit of turbulence. And at the time they were going home from the grocery store with a bag of oranges.

And the netting material that the bag was made out of was the a ha moment. Oh, that would work. Where did this material come from? A polypropylene extruded mesh. Which is fibers and kind of an angle pattern with each other. And now fast forward, almost 70 years, the same thing is used today. Now, lots of innovation has been put into that, but fundamentally somebody not in the industry would look at that bag of oranges from the sixties and a mesh material made today from SWM.

And say, yeah, pretty much the same product. And without a mesh material between the layers, the technology doesn’t work. You have to have flow over the surface of the membrane to get water in contact with the membrane. to actually push it through the membrane. And so that’s the spacer that’s been used in the spiral form since its founding.

And that spacer is rolled up simultaneously with the membrane leaf, put it into a spiral form because the spiral form makes. Pressurizing at the most cost effective.

Antoine Walter: But when you look at an entire membrane system, let’s imagine a big designation room. It’s full of these super huge racks with each of them have a big, big series of modules on it.

And it’s full, full, full of stuff. And you say the one thing I can do better. Is that spacer? What’s the story?

Craig Beckman: It goes back to our founder, Rodney Harrington, who predates me at the company. And he, at the time, was working on a very different product. Not that giant D cell room full of membrane, but instead, a membrane element that would actually fit in a backpack.

So he had a defense contract. Was doing research for DARPA. And the challenge there was to shrink the product, not expand the product and to make a membrane element that could actually take any source of water and make drinking water out of it. And he and his colleagues at the time looked at spiral long membranes and said, there’s just too much area.

We’ve got to figure out how to make this more compact, more efficient. You can’t make the membrane thinner. You can’t really make the permeate carrier thinner because it’s what draws the water away. Okay. If it gets thinner, it creates back pressure. So the only thing they could make smaller, thinner was the spacer.

And so he, like lots of early entrepreneurs that didn’t really have experience in the industry, took apart a product and said, that’s the piece that has to change. And successively for years after that, before I joined the company, experimented with all kinds of printing and deposition and, pressing technologies, embossing different things to try and replace that netting material, that mesh.

And then finally, yeah, we found one that works.

Antoine Walter: But that’s really things that bugs me a bit. So you have these membrane manufacturers, they could be looking at that specific piece, but they don’t. Why?

Craig Beckman: It’s not a huge secret, but somewhat of a secret that they have for years. You know, if you talk to experts in the industry, Eric Hope from UCLA, for example, I was just at an event with him and he said the very best spacer for a membrane element is no spacer.

So the idea of trying to figure out a better mouse trap for that water channel is not something new. We didn’t come along as Aquamembranes, a small team in New Mexico and said, Oh, we’re going to figure this out. Tore, DuPont, LG Chem, Osmonix, Koch Membranes. They have tried for many years and for whatever reason didn’t have the tenacity or the naive nature or whatever you want to call it to say, Oh, we can do it.

And it has been difficult. I mean, Rodney started this 15 years ago. And I joined him six years ago, and we’re just in a commercial product now. So I think part of it is also, I mean, I come from the membrane business. I spent 20 years at Osmonix and GE Water. We looked at it, but said the payoff just wasn’t worth it.

It’s kind of inertia. Why did nobody break the automotive industry before Tesla? Well, because He was just determined enough to do it. Not that I’m comparing myself with him in any way. Not at all. Not at all. So we’re in different universes.

Antoine Walter: Before that, I have two preliminary questions to still get out of the way. The first is from my understanding, having talked with several companies, some, which probably would be your direct competition, I’m thinking of Evove here. You’ll tell me if that would be competition or not to you, but my understanding of those spaces is that some can bring higher flux.

Some can reduce the biofouling. Some can reduce the pressure drop. I’m not sure if one can do the three of them. You’ll tell me what’s the one you pick.

Craig Beckman: Start with Evove and they are a competitor. They’re doing it a little bit differently in that they’re using 3d printing, but looking at 3d printing technology in the more traditional sense of actually taking a liquid into a physical three dimensional product, and that they’re trying to with that 3d printing, change the geometries of the overlapping mesh, change the strand size, the strand profile.

The connection points. All great technology, all definitely improving the same thing that we are. Our big kind of step change difference from them is that we don’t actually create a three dimensional product. Instead, we use the membrane as the printing substrate and print directly onto the membrane surface.

So where they have interconnecting points with the strands, We, in essence, eliminate the strands and just print the posts that kind of look like theirs were, but they can’t do that because you have to have a layer to roll into the membrane to the question of one pattern or one technology doing multiple benefits for a customer really comes down to the customer and the application we’ve done.

10 years of testing and evaluation on exactly those subjects. So can we reduce energy? Can we increase productivity? Can we reduce following? And the answer is that one pattern does do that. Yes. We’re kind of tongue in cheek calling our Goldilocks design a pattern that does some level of benefit for all of those.

So if we have a customer that wants. Some level of improvement in energy, some level of improvement in fouling and scaling, and some level of improvement in productivity. We have a pattern for that. It’s a 19. 5 mil pattern, about a half a millimeter for the metric and the rest of the world that follows the correct measurement system.

That’s a pattern that gives some of that, but if we did have a customer come to us and said, look, energy, not a concern. Like, there aren’t many of those, but there are some where energy is very cost effective and we want to maximize productivity. We want to squeeze as much membrane area into the smallest package as possible.

Then it would be thinner than 19 mils. We’d go down to maybe as thin as 12 mils or 12 thousandths of an inch. On the other hand, if we had a customer that said, look, I don’t need more output, I don’t need productivity, I need maximum energy savings, I’m paying for electricity, In the Caribbean and it’s very expensive 30 cents kilowatt hour.

Then we’d actually make a thicker spacer. and we’d give them maximum energy savings at the maybe expensive they don’t get the other. So that’s the benefit of printed spacer technology where we literally can, with an image and some settings on our 3D printer, go and make any pattern we want and any pattern we want for any customer.

Because it’s, in essence, digitizing the design part of it, we can come up with a pattern that not only changes heights, To give some of those different advantages to different customers, but if even different heights at different points in the system, so if we look at a big diesel plant that might have an overflexing membrane on the front end because it has the most primary pressure on it compared to an underflexing membrane on the very back end because you’ve run out of driving pressure.

We could have different patterns on both ends of that system for that same customer to really maximize their benefit.

Antoine Walter: Is that theoretic what you’re mentioning here or is it really the way you do it that you customize it including inside the rack?

Craig Beckman: We have not had installations yet, no, where we’ve customized different patterns at the same site.

But we’ve done projections for a number of customers. And I would say by the end of the year, we’ll probably be into those more customized options. We hired CJ Kurth as our CTO a couple of years ago. He comes from NanoH2O and a couple other good startups and gave us great advice of, look, we can do lots of things for lots of customers, but you have to start somewhere.

And so that’s where we tried to get better because Rodney and myself and a couple others on the team are these ideation experts of, hey, we can do this and this and this. But to run a business repeatedly at high quality, you have to do the same thing for a little while and get good at it. So today we’ve got three products on the market and we’re really focusing on those three to get significant volume into the market first, then probably head a bit more down the customization path.

Antoine Walter: You mentioned three, I had two, Echo and Flow. What’s the third?

Craig Beckman: We have Echo and Flow and the Arctic. Which is the older version of one of those.

Antoine Walter: You offer me a very smooth transition. You mentioned that your CTO is coming from a startup environment. You do as well. There’s two different ways to look at your path.

The first is, you just mentioned how you’ve been working in membranes and you’ve been deep into that sector. You’ve then you’ve also worked for bigger groups. But there’s a reason for that is that those bigger groups have been acquiring the startups you were within. Somewhat, you’ve exited twice from startups.

You exited from Osmonex when it got acquired by GE water and Meox is the one who got acquired or is the one who acquired. Meox was acquired by Johnson Matthey.

Craig Beckman: Yep. Okay. Yeah. Two Xs.

Antoine Walter: And so at some point you said, no, the big corporates, that’s not for me. I want to. dive back into a startup. And that’s 2017 where you’re joining Aqua Membranes.

Yep. What’s the story?

Craig Beckman: Yeah. So Rodney and I had crossed paths just being in Albuquerque. It’s a great city, but it’s not a big city. And it’s especially not a big city when it comes to water treatment technology.

Antoine Walter: Half a million people from my research. I mean, from European standard, that’s a big city, but okay.

Craig Beckman: Yeah. Sorry. But you know, if you think about membrane technology, especially in the U S it’s kind of. All around San Diego and Boston, which are much bigger markets beginning a little bit in Texas, but Albuquerque, you know, whereas there’s a lot of research and great work done there, it’s much more focused on defense because of the national labs that are there.

So water is not kind of a big segment there. And he and I had crossed paths just being in the water sector. And when we went through the exit of Miox and, you know, started working for At the time they were starting a water business. And looking to roll up some other companies, strategic decisions changed.

I decided it was time for me to move on. And I was actually planning to probably not stay in Albuquerque because there weren’t a lot of great opportunities, but Rodney approached me. And at the time, my youngest daughter was about to graduate high school. And she really wanted to stay there too. So those driving forces together, I’d known about Rodney and the technology for years before that.

And if I’m honest, I probably had the same bias that a Toray or DuPont has. Today, it’s not going to work. It’s too hard. He changed my mind. He showed me the progress they’d made on some prototypes and some of the data they had, and I was like, all right. Yeah, this is a lot further along than I thought.

Antoine Walter: But the prototypes at that time were still the backpack product, not what you’re building today.

Craig Beckman: No, they were kind of in between. They were a home size element. So like an 18×12, which is your typical under the sink element, 10 square feet of area and 1. 8 inches diameter by 12 inches in length. They’re pretty easy to make. And very easy to compare. So you can buy one from DuPont and compare it or Samsung or, so there’s a lot of data out there on how those perform.

And it’s a pretty good indicator of the larger industrial four and eight inch elements. So his testing at that time was prototyping and also prototyping the printing process, which has proven probably one of the more, more difficult parts. Of our accomplishment. And it’s this idea of how do you print 20, 000 individual features on one membrane leaf very quickly, repeatedly at high quality and not damage the membrane.

And this is membrane that’s fragile enough that if you handle it without gloves. you damage its salt rejection. So we’ve got to take something that fragile and run it through an essence of printing press. And that’s been a interesting, both engineering and chemistry challenge.

Antoine Walter: When you joined in 2017, was it Rodney alone or was there a team which you got to lead?

Craig Beckman: Rodney had a one full time employee and one part time employee when I joined him and had done most of his funding with angels and friends and family. So he’d asked me to come on board to help build out the team. Um, and help them with more seed funding and then leading into the funding round.

Antoine Walter: In just two years from that point, where I guess it’s still embryonic, it’s more catered to the, under the sink, and you’re still trying to find a way of how to print it on the sheet of the membrane, which sounds not that straightforward.

Just two years. And you have your first product. What are the milestones between those two?

Craig Beckman: At that time, we had a development partnership on the printing technology. And we had a printer that was near the end of its acceptance cycle. And we had been a bit aggressive. I’ll admit now, as I look backwards to 2018, and it was at WEFTEC and we’re like, Hey, we have to come out with a bang.

The Arctic product was very specifically designed to multiple customers or asking us to solve a problem for them. And it’s this problem of cold water. So membrane is very susceptible to cold water and lots of customers underestimate both how cold their water actually gets and how much they lose flow.

So lots of industrial facilities. When they’re working with Veolia or Wigan or Aquatec or whomever is supplying their skids, we’ll say, Oh, our water never gets below 10 Celsius or 15 Celsius. And then the reality is in the middle of the winter, if they’re on a surface supply, it does. And then all of a sudden they can’t make enough water.

So Arctic was this idea of, look, if you have surface water supply coming to your industrial facility and you, for a couple months of the year, can’t keep up with the rest of the plant, this product will solve your problem. And then in the summer months, when the water warms up, you actually back off the energy.

And so you get energy savings. So half the year you get energy savings, half the year you get to keep up. So that’s the story behind Arctic. And I was tired of names like the 80 40 BW, AK, this, that, the other. Ironically enough, I caved and went back to it, but that’s a podcast. We had a marketing manager at the time.

It was really pushing me for branding that was different. So we came out with Arctic. We didn’t have success with Arctic because even though we took orders, some of which got canceled, that printer. That I started this discussion with actually didn’t make it through its acceptance. So we were just getting into the, all right, now let’s run it every day for eight hours a day, and it didn’t make it.

And so we had to go back to the drawing board on that printing technology and actually take a pretty significant shift and restart that because the technology we were using just wasn’t going to get there. Luckily, we had another option kind of in our tool belt. and accelerated that one. And that’s the option we’re in the market with today.

Antoine Walter: Let’s just go back to, to that moment where you’ve just released Arctic at WEFTEC. You’ve picked one battle, which is the cold water and one vertical, which is the industrial guys, which have to deal with that specific problem. You apparently nail it sufficiently so that you get your orders and you’re still a small company and you get that big hits that the technology you’ve bet on doesn’t work.

What’s your feeling at that exact moment? Are you tempted to give up?

Craig Beckman: Very frustrating, very difficult investor conversations as we’ve taken some investor money by that time. It missed revenue significantly, but you know, credit the investors, credit the team. We have a team that doesn’t give up easily. I don’t give up easily.

I’m often motivated by the fact of people telling me you can’t be done. I’m like, well, I, I disagree. I get that you’re smart and experienced and I’m maybe not as smart as experienced, but yeah, that tenacity factor, stubbornness factor, whatever you want to call it. I think we had both a team and a set of investors that never say die.

Um, we’re still relatively small at the time. So the cash needs were not huge and we’d been doing some non dilutive funding, so that helped as well. And we said, Hey, yeah, this is a setback, but it’s not the end. And we’re going to push on through. And it was a good thing we did because. Yeah, it was the right thing at the right time and a great learning on maybe why some of the other majors hadn’t done it.

Because even after you get the chemistry of the spacer material down and the printing technology down, then you have to deal with the fact that the raw material you’re printing on isn’t uniform because whatever flat sheet we’re using, we’re not a flat sheet manufacturer today. So we buy from the market.

And we buy from multiple sources, but even from the same source, from the same casting and coding line.

Antoine Walter: Are you agnostic when it comes to sources or does it matter?

Craig Beckman: We have qualified sources, yeah, yeah. We’re fine with different types of brackish or low energy, but we’ve only qualified a few at this point.

And our, again, back to that focus versus, you know, Doing everything for everybody. Yeah. We get requests on a regular basis to print on all kinds of membranes, sometimes not even water membranes right now, we’re doing a project on a gas separation membrane for carbon capture. For example, we get requests a lot.

We have to do our best to stay in our lane. The issue we have, even if we have the same membrane rolls from the same manufacturer, the membrane is not consistent. And so this membrane web. And having to move it through a printing process, whether it’s vacuum tables or other methods changes. And so then we can’t change the flat sheet membrane because if we went to an LG cam or DuPont or Tory and said, Hey, could you make your membrane different for us?

Obviously they don’t even take that phone call. So then we have to adapt our printing process. to absorb and modify to the changes of the raw material we’re printing on. And so that was one of the big learnings we had as we go through commercializing this printing process, which perhaps other people have tried.

And at some point, a P& L leader just said, look, you’ve already spent 5 million on this project. You’re not spending any more, shut it down. And we, you know, we keep spending, we’re well above.

Antoine Walter: I remember raising that question to Chris Wyers from Evolve, and he wasn’t sure about the answer. So maybe you’re not sure either about the answer.

Do you intend to be a membrane company? A membrane printing company? A technology house which licenses its technology to other players?

Chris Wyres: What’s your vision? Principally a membrane manufacturer. But we keep our business model flexible because we understand in certain territories and certain sectors that basically there’s not a one size fits all model.

Antoine Walter: I’m curious about that. Would you define yourself as a spacer specialist, a membrane specialist, or a 3D printing specialist?

Craig Beckman: Yeah, I would definitely describe us as a membrane element specialist. Our team, our technology, is very much focused on improving the performance of a finished membrane element. We enable that through 3D printing, but we, I would say, are not by any means a 3D printing expert.

We depend on others for a lot of that advice and even the chemistry and the formulation of the polymers we’re using to make 3D printing. the actual feature. Yeah, that’s not our specialty. We found other people that are specialized in that. What we look at is, all right, this eight inch element with this salt rejection, this flux, this scaling kind of profile in this water supply, we can make that better.

So that’s our specialty.

Antoine Walter: The 3D printing is the hurdle to overcome somewhat. Yes. But you’re a membrane company, which leads me to the next question, which is the common thread across the membrane companies. Whenever you have something brilliant in membranes, It’s hard to just go to the market and say, look, I have a beautiful spacer.

Buy my spacer. You will needs. Especially given your technology as you’re printing on the membrane, I guess you have to deliver the entire spiral one membrane, which you roll. You couldn’t just have the sheet with the printed space on it, but where does it stop? Because you could also go to the module. You can also build skids.

You could also build the plants. Where does your vertical start and where does it stop?

Craig Beckman: A great question. And we landed on the finished eight inch element. And again, this was a change. Or a modification that CJ, our CTO really recommended and pushed prior to him joining. I would say we were a little bit more.

We’ll sell you a flat sheet if you want printed leaves and roll them into a finished element in your own facility. Or if you want a finished element, we could do that. Or we’d even offer a machine to you. And again, get good at something first and then go into the next adjacencies. And I think that’s his background in nanoH2O because in the casting coding business, it’s really, really complex.

And even changes in humidity outside your building. Change the quality of your product. And so it was just that hard lesson that he learned at nano H2O to get good at the first thing. And you don’t have to make money doing the first thing, but you have to actually get good at it and have lots of revenue to prove you’re good at it, and then go to an adjacency.

The other reason we did finished membrane elements is that they’re the most interchangeable for end users that see the most value. So if we go to a power plant or a food and beverage plant, a mining facility that’s dewatering a pond, you know that membrane system that’s sitting there. Is relatively easy to prove the value.

I mean, in a day we can be up and running and show them or not, how much value we could create. We did a startup actually last week and we were at a site in the West and we loaded our membrane elements and this was actually a two train system. So they had parallel trains and we loaded ours in one side and we loaded the customer’s other option in the other side, and it was this idea of bring your best and show us what you can do.

And we fired it up. And by the end of the day. They saw the results because if we’re going to save them energy, it doesn’t take days or months for the membrane to stabilize and have an output and a quality, it’s a matter of hours. And so they fire both systems up. And by the end of the day, this system is producing this output at this quality, and it takes this much pressure and our system is producing.

Slightly better quality, same output volume, and using this much less energy. And so that benefit we got was immediate. In that case it was 13 percent on day one, and it’ll probably get more after that. But that’s a benefit we have in this adoption challenge. That everybody always talks about in the water space, especially our friend Paul, who loves to talk about it the most.

I think he’s a little bit pessimistic, from my opinion, but I get it. I’m probably biased. I’m an entrepreneur. But yeah, that’s where we have a little bit of advantage, I think, in that we can go to a customer and say, Look, you don’t have to take out equipment. You don’t have to add a new equipment. You don’t have to bring in a trailer with a demo system.

We can simply take that skid, take it down. We’ll have our elements in it by the end of the day. And if two weeks later you call and say, Hey, I don’t like them or they don’t work. Great. We’ll show up in an afternoon. You’ll be back on the old product. And no harm, no foul.

Antoine Walter: That’s the beauty of the eight foot element, which is really like you have the standard and you can just one to one replace.

Exactly. Yeah. What you’re saying. makes a ton of sense. You have the standard module, you replace one to one. If at the end of the day, it’s 13 percent better in energy, it’s 13 percent better of energy. Nothing which can be debated. The question though, is if I’m running a plant, I also want to see that in the long run.

I mean, for the long haul and membranes have these expected lifespan of seven years, 12 years, 15 years, 20 years, depending how They are dimensioned and conceived. I would see that as the biggest impediment to adoption. You’re coming with something which is Let me take an extreme example. I’m really sorry.

I’m taking you all over the places. A Ferrari is an incredible car. Goes super fast. Is probably a marvel of technology. The chances that your Ferrari does 1000 kilometers without braking is super low. Whereas your Super boring Ford is not the same level of technology is not the same level of car, but the chances of it doing 1000 kilometers without breaking are super high.

So how do you overcome that fear for your customers that, Oh, it’s awesome because from day one, it brings value, but is it still alive by day? 3, 650.

Craig Beckman: Yeah, good question. And a struggle we’ve. Faced in a little bit because there’s a history in the membrane business of pushing flux rates. Whether it’s ceramics or ultrafilters or reinforced fibers or flat sheet, every few years somebody comes out and says, well, my membrane can run a double the flux.

And maintain it. And many, if not most, fall back to the norm. And that it’s just, water has a certain flux it runs at with polymerics or ceramics. And it’s just tough to break that norm. So we are fighting against that. Two ways we talk to our customers about it. One, we’re not changing the flux. If anything, we actually slightly lower the flux.

So when we go to the productivity plate, for example, and tell a customer, we can give you 10 percent more output. If that’s how you want to use our product, we’re actually going to do it with 12 or 14 percent more area. So we’re actually going to put more membrane area into the system, take their flux down slightly because experience has shown us that exactly that this has to work for years and years, not months and days.

So that’s one element. The other element is we just need time. So customers. Even with the flux discussion, they say, Hey, good job. You got 20 percent day one. Let’s see where you are in day 300. And then we just monitor it for months and potentially years. In most cases, if you get through a couple of cleaning cycles, that’s enough for most customers to say, okay, yeah, I get it.

It’s not falling off. I’m not losing it. And having sites that have historical performance is even better because they can go back and say, look, with my DuPont elements or my Tory elements, I was cleaning every four months. And now I’m going to make sure that your energy savings stays for that same four month period.

And if you extend that cleaning cycle, then that gives me more confidence that I’m going to get this long term. We don’t have an installation that’s been running for more than a year and a half today. You know, that’s our longest running installation. So can we guarantee a five year life? Oh, it’s kind of hard because we only have a year and a half, but we also have a lot of expertise on the team and a lot of data that would indicate if we made it past that many cleaning cycles.

That much better. It is safe to predict into the future. Our life will be the same or better. And potentially it could be a lot better. We’ve run some high fouling applications where our cleaning cycle was dramatically better, where they were running an essence disposable elements that ran for two years, because it was a tough application and they had to clean every three or four months.

And we’re six, eight months in and we haven’t cleaned yet. So theoretically, if the cleaning and the scale buildup was the end of life for the other product, we could extend that. Today, we don’t really sell a lot on that value proposition because we want more field evidence of it. Today, it’s really about energy savings or productivity.

But long term, that could be one of the biggest values we deliver to the market. is extended membrane life.

Antoine Walter: It’s interesting because your argumentation leverages a psychological bias, which is the pratfall effect, which is if you start by acknowledging that you have a weakness or by just falling in front of the customer and showing some weakness, then you can convince them.

So when you’re saying we slightly reduce the flux, then it becomes more believable that all the rest comes. So very clever and probably also very true, but very clever, which brings me back to. Your Arctic products by the time you released it and you mentioned how there were some hiccups, but I found back your newsletter, which you published at that time.

And you were mentioning that you’re going down two business routes. One is to work directly with the end user, which is probably what you’re describing here so far, which is like really installed. And then you try to get the feedback and see what you can get out. And the other routes, which is probably the path to scale.

You can send me. is licensing. So that was the plan. How did it turn out in real life?

Craig Beckman: I would say, you know, it’s working out well. We talk about direct customers as proof cases and as more data in the field to build up kind of the inertia, the adoption, the understanding in multiple customers, and then leveraging that into licensing agreements, which are much more profitable.

We have signed our first licensing agreement and it’s for an application and a geography that would be a long time. Maybe even just never for us to tackle. And so that’s how we look at licensing of being very strategic and intentional of the membrane market is so diverse in geography and applications and verticals, the idea that a small team in New Mexico could cover all of it.

It’s just that we’re trying to stay in our lane and focus on the customers that we think we can add the most value to, but other customer segments that are really interested in the technology that maybe already have. A solutions partner, we are fine to enable them to be creative and come up with a unique solution.

That leverages our technology. So as we think about our pro forma going out five years, I would say five years from now, we have five to eight licensees and are really, again, focusing on the end user markets where we think we can add the most value, but they’re really interesting other options. One of them I mentioned before is not even in water.

Very similar type of membrane is used for carbon capture. And the idea of reducing energy waste as you push gas through is basically the same as pushing water through. Is aqua membranes going to be making finished elements for carbon capture? No. But, yeah, somebody else might do it for us. Or tangential flow for the medical field in ultrafiltration, small modules that are used in drug discovery.

Those tangential filters. Again, they use a spacer today. Could we add value to that? Probably. Do we want to do it ourselves? No. That’s a licensing play.

Antoine Walter: When you mention licensing play and licensee, what’s the profile of those licensee and how does it look like in concrete terms? Is it like you’re supplying them the 3D printer?

Craig Beckman: There’s multiple printer suppliers. So whether we Sell the printer directly or point the customer directly at one of those vendors. That’s kind of depends on the technology, the volume they’re looking at, and then the disposable raw material, the polymer that they would require again, could be purchased directly from micro membranes could be purchased directly from a third party, but the company making the product has to have IP license from us.

Our IP is pretty extensive and in our opinion, very difficult to get around. And so. In the model where we would be selling printer and resin, it would come with a no charge IP license. If we point that potential licensee at a third party, then they have an agreement with that third party to buy those products and they have a license agreement with us, which would be a per unit, per annual, whatever that might look like.

Antoine Walter: And for the other route, which is you going direct to the end user, that means you need to ramp up your production capacity. How do you do that?

Craig Beckman: Yeah, it’s time to build a new factory. Our existing factory in Albuquerque is sold out. And so we’re going to be doing fundraising this summer to build a new 10 X factory.

So we’re scouting locations now and we’ll be building out a hundred thousand square foot space with multiple printing, rolling, testing lines. So hopefully this time next year, almost exactly, we’ll be up and running putting first product out of that plant.

Antoine Walter: But that is the most capital intensive step in a membrane company, building the capacity.

Then you can explain why it’s an Espresso system and it just prints money, actually, in your case, really, but let’s just have a look at your funding so far. Um, again, jumping around, but I think it’s, it’s interesting here. You mentioned how you had some seed investment. Actually, you had seen investment from right from Masarin Ventures.

I think we discussed aqua membranes with John Robinson when he was on that microphone.

John Robinson: So aqua membranes is a performance improvement technology for RO membranes that enables significantly less energy use within the RO processes or reverse osmosis of demands a tremendous amount of energy to create the osmotic pressure to realize the potential of RO.

And energy means carbon. The ability for aqua membranes to improve the performance of our own membranes means more water availability for communities in need.

Antoine Walter: You had a corporate round from Pentair. Your first corporate round was in 2019. Then 2020, you close your first major funding round with clean energy ventures and Pentair again as lead investor.

In 2021, clean energy ventures and Micron. And in 2023, Clean Energy Ventures and Kurita. So several rounds. But if I now try to be really the devil’s advocate, the amount of money you’ve been raising through those runs is nowhere near the amount of money you will need to do a 10x factory. So your next round is going to be spectacular.

Craig Beckman: Correct. The amount of funding we’re going to be targeting is, again, 10x. The A series. You know, was a million and a half, two million here and there from different investors. And it went a bit longer to get through that 2019 hiccup to restart the printing process, which was a little bit two year delay.

But you don’t know what you don’t know until you start. So the good news is we’re through it and off to the races now. So yeah, we’re going to be raising north of 20 and south of 40 million. The good news is we don’t have to raise. As much as a casting coding membrane startup. So there’s lots of startups out there.

Nala, Zwitterko, Zia, others that are all doing new flat sheet membrane. And that’s actually more capital intensive than our product because we’re not starting with our own flat sheet. We can source that from the market. And so now we’re sourcing printing and automated rolling equipment, which has actually become.

Significantly more cost effective in the last 10 years went to a company and said, Hey, I want to turn this stack of membrane leaves into a finished element 10 years ago. That’s a 10 million piece of equipment today. You can get her for a million dollars just because there’s more people and the proprietary nature of the early days of the people doing it have expired.

More people are doing it in Asia. So our cost of capital is not as much, but it’s still a big number.

Antoine Walter: So you’re counting on Moore’s law. Like the ceramics guy. That’s not really the best reference in those people in your capital. They are funds like Mazarine and Clean Energy Ventures, but there’s also Pentair and Kurita, Pentair and Kurita to my knowledge.

are kind of membrane companies. Does that play a role in your strategy timelines?

Craig Beckman: We love both types of investors, both styles. So the financial investors, clean energy ventures, Mazarin, others are helpful both in capitalizing the business, but also thinking about future fundraising exits, things like that, because they’re

And then I like to actually balance that with the other investors, Pentair, Kurita, Micron, which are actually users of the product, either as the final end using product, like in Micron’s case, they buy 8 inch elements, or in Kurita or Pentair’s case, it’s more likely a licensing model, since as you said, they’re users.

Fundamentally membrane and system manufacturers. And so then we get to balance that different approach and different voice at the table of all of us together leading this company of we want financial return, but we also want to have adoption. And you asked one of the other questions. For very often you’re people on the microphone of profitability or growth.

That comes right back to that. Some of the end users are like, Hey, just make the product and grow. Don’t worry about profitability. Yeah. The venture people are like, yeah, we have to have a path to profitability. We have to see that. So I get a little of that from them both. And it’s interesting to look at Creed and Pentair.

I would describe them both more as system companies than membrane companies. That if you look at their offerings, they’re more solution oriented, I’m going to provide the entire SCID. In Corita’s case, it might be for a microelectronics facility. In Pentair, it might be for a consumer or a small commercial water user, like a Starbucks or something where they supply the whole system and the service around it.

And that’s where we feel we can really add value to a smaller scale, something take Starbucks, everybody knows Starbucks. So it’s an easy example to use, but they use membrane technology. It. pretty much all of their facilities around the world. But as their volume has gone up, both of customers and average serving size, they need more water.

So their choices will take out the water system I put in and put in a brand new one, which is disruptive. And a lot with the number of stores they have, or if there was some way to make the system I already have out back, make a little bit more water, 30%, 50 percent more water, that might be enough. And that’s one of the value propositions we can offer to a system supplier like Pentair that then is good for their customers.

Antoine Walter: I don’t want to open a full sidetrack here. I would fully agree with you on the Kurita. Pentor with Xflow is not only a system provider. They also have in house technology, but I understand your points. It’s not, I don’t want to be a contrarian for the sake of being a contrarian. We’ll probably come back to the implication it might have that you’re working with those companies, but I’d like to complete your path so far, your product, we’ve left it at, you had a major setback with that printing, not working, you find a solution.

And you now back with a new 3D printing methodology and you get to delivering the product. Is that still Arctic or are we now speaking of Eco and Flow?

Craig Beckman: Yeah. So we’re rebranded and two reasons for the rebranding with the Eco and Flow. One, just practically a company of our size and the difficulty of getting a voice in the market today, the idea of building a brand of Aquamembranes.

and a product brand Arctic or three or four after that as well. It is again, maybe a little bit too aspirational. The idea that we can have four products and invest in four of them and the names behind them, I think it was too much. So we’re really doubling down on Aquamembranes. That’s what we’re going to invest in.

That’s our lead brand. That’s what we’re going to be focusing on. So the new products have AM Aquamembranes in the brand. The other thing we are finding is that Customers really liked the old nomenclature. So whenever we were selling Arctic, it was, well, what type of flat sheet and how much area and what’s the spacer?

And so we kind of met our customers where they wanted to be, which was, look, you really want that in the model number, fine, we’ll put it in the model number. And then lastly, it was a really big differentiation. So the 505 in both the eco and the flow model number is the active area. And to our knowledge, nobody’s out there with over 500 square feet.

of membrane in an eight inch element. That’s just partly branding and differentiation of the 505 is where we’re at today. And soon we expect that to be more like 565 and at some point even 600, but that’s a new products in the future.

Antoine Walter: Let me understand if I get that wrong. I have one of your product names here, AM Aqua Membranes.

BW active area. What does BW stand for?

Craig Beckman: Brackish water, membrane type.

Antoine Walter: I see brackish water. So Aqua membrane, brackish water, 505 active area, ECO, which is the product line and 1. 0 because it’s the first generation.

Craig Beckman: You got it.

Antoine Walter: I need to believe that your customers prefer that. Over Arctic. I understand the branding from your perspective makes totally sense, but from your customer perspective, they prefer that.

Craig Beckman: Yes. I would say 80 to 90 percent of the customers we sell to are very technical, very engineering oriented and that branding and differentiation on the consumer level. We have not seen take the traction that we don’t. And I’m sure the marketing people on the call are just cringing right now because our industry is full of way too many engineers and not enough marketing and branding people.

On one of your other podcasts, you talked about liquid death, or I think it was maybe Tom was talking about it. And that’s a great example of somebody that is really good at marketing and not very technical. And maybe our team should be better at that. And maybe it was the wrong decision, but it’s the decision we made.

Antoine Walter: I’m no one to judge if it’s a good or bad decision. I’m just surprised. But actually you’ve got very great advice on the way because you’ve been through two acceleration programs. You’ve been through Imagine H2O. And then you’ve been through brew. Yep. So really two years in a row at that stage, it’s not an acceleration.

You’re building a rocket. What’s the story? How did you join Imagine H2O and what did you learn within the program?

Craig Beckman: Yeah. I loved Imagine H2O. We ran into Tom Ferguson at Weftec 2018, the same one where we launched the ArcTrick product. And he said, yeah, you know, we’re, the applications are open. What do you think?

And I said, I would love to join, even though I am a bit more of a veteran. Then maybe their typical profile is even veterans need to learn. And so that’s my first takeaway of it was super helpful for me to go through that as with some of the other entrepreneurs that maybe weren’t as experienced because we all forget those important basic lessons.

We all know the blocking and tackling is important in building a company. But with age and experience, we get maybe a bit too confident. So that was super helpful to me personally of like, yeah, redo your deck. I mean, I had built many decks and been selling for literally decades, but Tom and his team were helpful and all the other entrepreneurs was maybe the second takeaway of, yeah, I just love to be in that community.

And to be honest, it’s one that. I miss of being in an accelerator that, you know, being with other entrepreneurs that are fighting the same battles. At the same time, being able to support each other, even just encourage each other on like crappy days, because there’s a lot of hard days as an entrepreneur and having somebody in your network that you can call and say, Hey, I just struggled through this.

Have you ever had that problem? Super valuable. Even now, years after the accelerator, I’m staying in contact with a number of the people that I went through that with. And then brew the next year was somewhat just local because I went to the university of Wisconsin and it’s in Milwaukee. So I’ve got personal connection back to the state and it done some interesting stuff with customers there.

And they encouraged us to apply, and we had such a great experience through Imagine H2O. We’re like, great, yeah. And it’s a little bit more local, but it’s also made connections that we didn’t make in Imagine H2O, and met more colleagues. Again, the big benefit from, There were entrepreneurs there that weren’t in the other program and I’ve stayed in contact with them.

So those are the big takeaways for us.

Antoine Walter: So now we’ve got all the pieces of the puzzle. You come to the hardest part, which is you need to assemble it. So you’ve got the product, you’ve got the funding, you’ve got the partners, you’ve got your go to market routes. But as we alluded a bit to it with the adoption question, now it’s the decisive point as.

Paul Callan’s thesis on the dynamics of water adoption shows one thing which is very specific to the water sector is that companies don’t die. They can stay in the limbo for And that’s absolutely not what you want, especially when you’ve just done two accelerations. How do you ensure that you don’t stay in that limbo where you have a cool product?

I mean, 13 percent better energy just on day one is crazy good. And that’s just one example. You have many more. But how do you ensure that, It doesn’t stay just a cool thing, but becomes the big thing it deserves.

Craig Beckman: It’s a good question and a big challenge. The only thing we can do is our best and approach the market where it’s has a need.

And I would say the tail wind we get, I’ve been in the water space for more than three decades now. I’m not going to say how much more, but more than three decades and sustainability has always been a topic. Going back to my early days of selling. Membrane systems to beverage producers to replace Lyme softening.

There were a lot of energy and waste benefits 25 years ago to doing that. But I would say that no time like the present has sustainability and energy savings been a bigger driver. And the difference is the customer’s customer. So if we think about Micron, for example, they’re one of our investors, one of our early adopters.

Why are they choosing. to invest in and implement energy savings in their water treatment because their biggest customers are data centers. And the data centers, whether they’re owned by Amazon or Facebook or whomever, have customers that are demanding on them a sustainability score and a social contract to operate in our current environment.

And so they’re feeling that pressure all the way down to the point of, this is no longer just water. A return on investment. It’s now the social license to stay in business and that’s becoming a bigger driver Unilever, I think, is doing a great job with consumer products to really have a consumer understand and potentially even pay a premium for the product that they’re buying so that good environmental practices follow all the way through the supply chain.

And it ultimately has to come back to consumers, because if consumers only buy on cost, it’s hard to implement sustainable technologies. If they’re willing to pay a small premium for a differentiated brand, it’s going to That they trust and that they know is doing better with net zero water usage, water recycling, et cetera, that drives all the way back down to our level as a startup focusing on sustainability.

And I think that tailwind is what we really lean into to not end up in limbo. So we go from 10 a hundred million revenue. Much faster. Now, it’s still going to be years to do that, but perhaps we can cut it more than the average.

Antoine Walter: Let me start from the theory. You mentioned that your longest running commercial project is for one and a half years, so I guess it’s installed in 2022, right?

From the pure theory, your product is at best in the middle of the market in the mid 2030s to late 2030s. That’s pure theory. Tonight we’re recording is a Champions League night in Europe. So I’m going to take the role of, you know, the guy leaning on the couch, not doing anything and having best ideas than anyone else and knowing everything.

I’m in the best possible spot.

Craig Beckman: The armchair fallback. I got it.

Antoine Walter: Exactly. So you just mentioned that your product has potentially a higher cost. Then the incumbent technology today, thanks to Moore’s law in the future might change, but today that’s the fact, but it has strong benefits. All the companies which I had on that microphone, which intended to speed up the adoption, beat the numbers and beat the theory relies on a very specific business model, which is as a service.

And especially when you have a higher cost, it needs more. CapEx on your end and more investment and more money up front, but it’s supposed to be the Martingale which finally breaks those adoption curves. So from my very comfortable armchair position where I can preach and it doesn’t cost me anything, that’s what I would advise you.

Is it nonsense or are you thinking of it?

Craig Beckman: Not nonsense at all. And it would be, I wouldn’t even say pivot, but adjacency slash accelerator in the next two or three years. As we build more confidence. That the technology not only saves energy and increases productivity, but also can extend membrane life.

Then we’ve actually addressed one of the issues that the membrane business has struggled on for years, thinking about membranes as a service. There’s obviously lots of equipment suppliers as a service, but as soon as you put that membrane in somebody else’s equipment and let them run it, there’s a lot of anxiety.

There’s a lot of, yeah, but they’re not going to watch over it. It’s delicate. They won’t do the anti scale incorrectly. They won’t clean when they’re supposed to. So having a more robust or bulletproof product. enables that. Also, funding. If the funding sources are there for Membrane as a service, then it’s definitely something we’re open and interested to.

But that’s, I would say, our C series funding. Like our B series funding, in my strong opinion, again, back to kind of one of our guiding lights at this point, is get really good at doing something. And the something we’ve decided to get good at is selling end users. Eight inch elements for existing units.

And if we do that well for a year or two and acceleration starts to happen, then we get the opportunity to look at interesting business models that add value. And there’d definitely be funding out there. Again, once we’ve proven it in the field, getting close to breakeven, at breakeven, that’s a growth capital, that’s an expansion, that’s how we come to a more interesting exit.

I would love Membranes as a service, but not now.

Antoine Walter: So if I try to understand what you’re designing in terms of your path now for the future, the next fundraising, so your series B, is to build the factory. That will enable you to reconcile the half of your investor on your board today tell you, you don’t have to make money and the other half who tells you, yeah, but profitability is not that bad.

Craig Beckman: Yep, exactly.

Antoine Walter: You prove you established a model. You have a couple of years installations. You can also now say that because your product is not running for five years. It’s not just theory. It’s practical that it works. And then you can take that next inflection, which is maybe evolve your business model, which leads me to.

Thank you. My last question in this deep dive, which is a bit of the crystal ball. You’ve been on two teams which exited to larger companies. I’m wondering if there can be a giant 3D spacer printed company, or obviously doesn’t exist to date. You can invent that. Or you can say at some point, there can be an even better membrane company because now they have us on board.

What would be your, not just exit route, but the biggest impact you can have with Aqua Membranes?

Craig Beckman: Rodney and I talk about this often. It’s one of the reasons that we’re both doing this and are passionate about this is that we want to change the entire industry. We want the 5 billion of spiral on elements that are sold every year growing it a very big clip right now to have a better.

design and that mesh is going to go away and that all those elements are done with printed spacer technology now does that mean that aqua membranes is the sole supplier of membrane elements in the world five years from now absolutely not but what it means is that we’re a dominant supplier and we’ve come to license agreements with enough of the rest of the industry that a majority Like we’re never going to get a hundred percent.

That’s not going to happen. There’ll always be other options, lower cost options. Just the inertia will take a long time in this industry to fade away. But if Rodney and I get to 30, percent of the market share, and that’s through a combination of our own direct selling and licensing agreements, we’re good, we won, and not only we won, we won, like, The Mega Millions prize at that point.

So what does that mean for Aquamembranes as an exit? Potentially it’s to another membrane company, but I think it’s more likely a roll up with other innovative things in the membrane space. that then goes IPO. I don’t think that we’ll get to the size of being an IPO, but I think we’re a really interesting block to build three or four things with, and then goes IPO and stands alone.

You’re going to ask me a question, even though that was the last one.

Antoine Walter: I can’t resist that. That’s okay. What other pieces would be good fits to put together towards an IPO?

Craig Beckman: I think two areas. One, a novel membrane. Whether it is Alex over at Zwitterco or some of the many graphene things that are out there, somebody at some point is going to crack polyamide membrane.

Like it is the dominant one today, but at some point a better thinner polymer will be made. You still have to flow water over that polymer and so it’s still going to have benefit from A custom spacer. The other one would be an innovative equipment manufacturer. So somebody that does just really break through, whether it’s CCRO or one of the many other pulse flows using electricity in combination with water, that comes up with a better system design that then gets that much better with printed spacers.

And this idea of, you know, mineral mining, we keep talking about, all right, on the concentrate side, especially in Saudi Arabia, it’s talked about very often that the water. coming out of the system is now a byproduct. You get it for free. All the value is created out of the mineral mining we did. If you’re pushing to that saturation level, having a custom designed space where you’re going to put those minerals temporarily, rinse them out, concentrate them, etc.,

offers some really interesting options. But I don’t think AquaMembranes on its own is going to come up with the solution hardware around it. That’s going to be another partner. So if that develops that with standard mesh, And then we put printed with it. It just brings out much more value. Those are some of the ideas I would have.

Antoine Walter: And how far in the future are we ambitiously years? Not decades. That’s fascinating. I have to prevent myself to go deeper into the deep diving because that’s a fascinating vision you have here, but I have to be sometimes against my French nature and to be cautious every time. Thanks a lot for sharing.

The path of Aquarium Brain so far and also your vision for the future. That’s super interesting. If that’s fine for you, I’d propose you to switch to the last section, which is 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?

Craig Beckman: Water is both incredibly critical. or not critical at all. So if you’re a drinking water plant, it is your product. It is the thing you think about every day, and risk is really hard for you to accept if you’re a desal plant or a drinking water plant for Orange County.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re running a multi billion dollar refinery, and you have a 500 GPM RO that they’re Provides water for hydrogen production. It’s a utility. It’s not something you worry about. You worry about the price of crude. You worry about other things, you know, security in the Mediterranean.

So it’s, it’s either too important or not important at all.

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

Craig Beckman: I think tenacity is something you have to bring. Water is just so localized, so diverse. It’s something that has thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of iterations and you’ve really got to just keep pushing on with your idea even if it seems like there’s no path to the future.

Antoine Walter: There’s

Craig Beckman: always a path.

Antoine Walter: What’s the drop of knowledge you wish more investors knew about the water sector?

Craig Beckman: Water enables economies more than oil does. We think about oil and energy as building economies. Well, we move way more oil around the world than we ever move water and water is the backbone. And you can look at Los Angeles as an example of its growth is on water much more than oil.

Antoine Walter: I can’t resist the digression here. There are so many reports like the CDP report six months ago who showed it’s 2. 3 trillion Dollars of business opportunities linked to water. And we keep sending out reports, reports, reports, reports, and I fully agree with what you just said. Still, it seems to me like investors don’t get the message.

So what are we doing wrong?

Craig Beckman: I think investors will change when unfortunately more bad stuff happens, whether it’s Cape town or Mexico city or parts of India, where there’s direct evidence of a lack of water. causes negative GDP. Like we see the other, that water causes positive GDP growth, but lots of other factors to the business environment, the taxes, the raw materials, whatever it is, get credited for it.

I think once you see the reverse, when GDP is meaningfully impacted in a region because of water, Then sentiments will change.

Antoine Walter: We’re back to Paul O’Callaghan’s Thesis, crisis driven. Yes. Who goes twice faster. What was your most unexpected partnership and what did it bring you?

Craig Beckman: Clean Energy Ventures. You know, just as their name says, they’re mostly an energy investor.

They don’t invest in water. They found us through one of the accelerators. And we’re very interested in, they had an aha moment of how much energy is associated with water. And we have a better way to look at the investor pool. And they’ve even brought some other energy focused investment funds that are much more, Hey, our sole thesis is greenhouse gas reduction that they normally wouldn’t look at water companies, but now they have started to look at us and we’ve taken even another short investment or small investment from one

Antoine Walter: super short.

Profitability or growth?

Craig Beckman: Profitability. What’s the next profile you’ll hire? We need to hire a Rolodex, which is dating me because lots of your listeners have no idea what a Rolodex is, but it’s this flip chart that’s got hundreds of names and phone numbers on it of customers, and that we need to hire a 20 year veteran that’s been selling 8 inch membrane elements.

that knows 500 people that buy them.

Antoine Walter: So that answers my next question. Sector experience or startup experience? Sector experience.

Craig Beckman: Sector, for sure.

Antoine Walter: Okay. Opening new markets or doubling down on the existing ones?

Craig Beckman: Doubling down. Yeah. You know, going out, especially this idea of, you know, we get calls all the time from distributors in India or Indonesia, and it looks really tempting, GE days, doing business outside of your own country.

is very difficult.

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

Craig Beckman: Uh, this video conferencing, I work all over the world. When I visit my kids, I work. When I go on vacation, I work. 15 years ago at General Electric, we spent a hundred thousand dollars installing video conference in multiple sites that nobody used.

And the idea of doing a video conference was like, no, that’s weird. Now, not turning your camera on is weird. And all of us take advantage and don’t understand the benefit of it. Because it’s just natural now.

Antoine Walter: That’s so true. What’s the single piece of insights, your ideal customer profile, which might be listening to this hopefully needs to hear right now?

Craig Beckman: Risk is worth it. Fortune favors the brave as the saying goes. Like if you want to stand out as an employee in your facility. And really stand by sustainability and net zero goals. Somebody’s going to have to take a risk. Some executive’s going to have to put their career on the line and say, I’m staking my career on this.

It’s the right thing to do. And we don’t see enough of that.

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

Craig Beckman: I would love to see more data on water quality. And so Google Maps has done a fabulous job around the world. We know every street corner, every even storefront. But if I went and searched, what is the water quality in your neighborhood where you’re sitting right now?

It would be almost impossible to find but it’s out there because municipalities largely issue it and you could literally go And take water samples just like google drives their little cars around and maps things go get water quality and consumers need it Companies need it entrepreneurs need it. I would love to see a lot more public data on water quality.

Antoine Walter: That’s a very good one. Never, never thought of it, but now that you say it makes a ton of sense. I’m speaking with Simple Lab later this week. So maybe that’s a question to raise them. And last one, what can and should I do for you?

Craig Beckman: We would love to just have you continue to do your great work promoting entrepreneurs and promoting technologies.

And just really selfishly send me leads for customers that want a better hero.

Antoine Walter: I never said I would do it, but that sounds like something I would be happy doing. It’s been an incredible pleasure. I mean, time is flowing speaking with you. So really thanks a lot, Craig, for that. If people want to follow up like this ideal customer profile, just listen to you and say, I want to put now my career on the line, because I believe that just half of what that guy is promising is true.

Where do they contact you?

Craig Beckman: Either info at aquamembranes. com or send me an email personally. Craig at aquamembranes. com.

Antoine Walter: The links are in the description. If you’re listening to this, check them out. Where can they keep up with what you’re doing?

Craig Beckman: The website and YouTube, we do quite a bit of content on both.

We also do a newsletter. You can sign up there, get a newsletter about every other month with updates and news releases. My marketing director and I also put videos out on a pretty regular basis. So YouTube’s a good place as well.

Antoine Walter: You’re the first ever, and I think it must be interview 205 by the time I’m recording this one.

You’re the first ever. To redirect people to YouTube. I love that. I love that. Kudos for that. And of course, the channel link is in the description. Craig, thanks a lot. Really enjoyed that hour and 15 minutes, which was supposed to be shorter. Sorry for that. And I would love to have you back in years, not decades, to check out on your provision and to chronicle your IPO as well.

All right. That sounds great, Anton. I appreciate the time and I appreciate what you do.

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