Save Time, Boost Value and Wow Customers in a Snap with these 5 Simple (AI) Steps

with 🎙️  Ari RAIVETZ – CEO @ Transcend Software Inc.

💧 Transcend is an incredibly innovative company that provides software to automate any vertical asset’s preliminary engineering.

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What we covered:

🍏 How scratching their own itches, Transcend’s engineers came up with a revolutionary take on early engineering stages

🍏 How AI, Process Modeling, Cloud, and many others combine to deliver overnight what previously took weeks

🍏 The virtual 5-step process that turns simple inputs into ready-to-ship documentation

🍏 How this builds for a win-win between all project stakeholders with more quality time for value-added tasks

 🔥 … and of course, we concluded with the 𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 🔥 

➑️ Get the 3 Page Synthesis for free!

How do you turn an industry challenge that you're facing yourself into a stunning business opportunity? The secrets behind "scratching your own itches"

How to automate engineering in 5 steps (Data Validation, Process Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering & Document Generation)

Behind the scenes of a rocket growth: how to get selected among 800 contestants to join a very special growth accelerator (with a stellar track record)

Ari Raivetz Infographic Transcend Page 1

Resources:

➡️ Send your warm regards to Ari Raivetz on his LinkedIn page

➡️ Check Transcend’s Website

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is on Linkedin ➑️


Full Transcript:

These are computer generated, so expect some typos 🙂

Antoine Walter:

Hi, Ari, welcome to the show. I’m really glad to have you on the show today. I have to say I’m pretty excited on my end, by the field where your company is active, but before jumping into that, I’d like to get a bit more about you, your story. So let’s start with maybe the postcard you’re in Princeton right now. So I was going over there.

Ari Raivetz:

It’s good. It’s a bit rainy today. Typical weather for the East coast in October, but it’s usually very green here. So it’s a beautiful place

Antoine Walter:

Having a look at your path so far, I have to say you have quite a non-common path compared to the previous guest of the show because you’re coming from the finance world. So you have a finance background at some point you turn to water. So can you explain as how that’s happened?

Ari Raivetz:

Sure, sure. I started my career in the enterprise software industry, actually in the late nineties, I ran my own business for a year and then I worked in kind of ERP and supply chain software and kind of got my early start in business, trying to understand the way business processes work inside a company and how you can break those down and automate them to make a business more efficient, which is kind of what ERP and supply chain software or about. And then after four or five years in that industry, I went to get my MBA and after business school, I had to pay back my loans. So so I went to work on wall street for bank of America as an equity analyst. I started to get interested in water because I was covering the oil and gas companies when they were first fracking for natural gas and the Barnett shell in Texas and in the federal shell and in Arkansas.

And we took a lot of those companies public and did a lot of equity and debt offerings for them. So one is very big part of that process. And so I started to get interested in it later. I covered the oil refiners and the industrial manufacturers. You can look at my coverage universe at bank of America as pretty much anybody who is destroying the natural world. Who’s destroying the environment. That’s what I covered. So once I paid back those loans, I had to pay back my debt to the planet. So I left bank of America and I went to work for a clean tech private equity fund called RNK capital, which is really a pioneer in the clean tech investing space. They were one of the first investors in carbon credits and one of the first investors in solar projects and wind energy projects. And they had a fund that was focused exclusively on water. And so I was responsible for all the private investments and some of the public investments in that fund. And that was my kind of winding path to water where I’ve spent in the past 15 years.

Antoine Walter:

Would you say that these software automation aspect you had in the very, very early part of your career, then the business aspect and know the water, does that make for your secret sauce? Or is there anything different or supplement that I don’t know yet?

Ari Raivetz:

Yeah, it’s definitely the way I think about businesses is, you know, was framed by those early experiences in terms of, you know, how can you break it down into the different processes and automate as much as you can so that the people can shine because ultimately the people are what drives the success of the business. But if they get stuck in monotonous and repetitive and non-value added work, then they get bogged down and they can’t achieve their maximum potential. So that is definitely kind of been a defining factor for me. And it’s definitely led me on the path to transcend

Antoine Walter:

That path to transcend is a smooth transition to, to the deep dive. But I’d like to understand at which point you thought that there was such a pain that you had to solve with transcendent. I’ll let you explain in a minute what transit is really about, but I’m interested just before in understanding when you clicked, when you realized there is something there and you wants to solve that problem.

Ari Raivetz:

Sure. Yeah. I mean, actually the pain is that pain point is what transcend is about. So one of the investments that I did at RNK was a company in Budapest, Hungary called organic or water and organic sells unique wastewater technology, both services and products that are used to build these beautiful botanical garden wastewater plants. And after three years as an investor in the company, they had just commissioned an 80,000 cubic meter per day reference plant in Budapest. And the founders asked me if I would quit my job and pack up my family and moved to Budapest to run the company. They both had a technical background as engineer and architect, and they felt that, you know, they wanted a business person to help them scale the company. So when I moved to Hungary, the first thing I realized was we had this major bottleneck in our sales process where we had to do all of this preliminary engineering work before we could bid on a job.

And then clients would come back to us and want to change things. They would want to change various aspects of the design or the appearance of the plan. And we were a small startup, I think maybe like 15 people at that time. And, you know, we couldn’t afford to hire an army of engineers and it was taking us hundreds of hours every time we wanted to bid on a project or even evaluate whether it made sense for us to, to bid on a project. So we built a software tool inside of Organica and that software is the transcend design generator today. And that’s kind of how we got there.

Antoine Walter:

So you were scratching your own itches, which is somehow business one Oh one, the best way to get to the actual point and get an actual good business ID.

Ari Raivetz:

I mean, you know, you I’m sure, you know, engineers, and they were extremely skeptical that we could automate that first 20, 30% of the design of a wastewater facility. And it was not easy. It took us two years to develop the software about a year of software development and then a year of QA QC. But by the end of it, you know, all the skeptics began to love it because not only did it have great business impacts, which I can talk about in a minute, but it just made their lives better. You know, they didn’t have to work on all of this monotonous repetitive work in the early stages of a project generating the early drawings and the early design options and redoing work when clients wanted to make changes, but they could solve the really difficult problems. And that was what inspired them as engineers. And so people began to,

Antoine Walter:

I love it. We’ve come to that because I have to say, I’m going to set it already. So let me repeat it. I I’m excited, but I had to look at your website and on your website, there are a couple of quotes from your existing customers. One says we’ve been trying to do something like this for 20 years. And the next one says, this is the Holy grail of software for the water engineering words. So that sounds like incredibly bold statements. It sounds too good to be true. And then the next thing on your website is, wow, it sounds too good to be true. So I thought, yeah, that’s good marketing, and you have to test it by yourself. So I didn’t have the chance to test it by myself, but now I’d like to start really from the roots and to go step by step through your process. So let’s start with your pitch. What is it actually about what is this software as a service that you are

Ari Raivetz:

The transcend design generator automates the first 20, 30% of the engineering of a water or wastewater treatment facility, or really any kind of vertical asset at its core? That’s what the software does. And the idea is that when you start the design of a water wastewater treatment facility in the kind of manual world, you have a set of inputs that you usually get from a client. It’s how dirty the wastewater is, how clean you’d like it to be at the end, the temperature, the flow rate, and then a number of other kind of client specific preferences that are different for each project. And what usually happens is you hand that over to a process engineer and that process engineer evaluates different technologies and different biological or physical chemical processes to determine the best way to treat the water and does some process sizing and simulation. And from there, it goes to a mechanical engineer to an electrical engineer, civil and architectural engineer and engineer. And at the end you have this preliminary engineering package and our software does all of that in the cloud without any human intervention.

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Antoine Walter:

So let’s go step by step through that process if I get it right, it starts with that. You input that in the system. And if I got it right, again, you give you a waste. What’s the data you’re intending outputs and some simple parameters. What do you do with that data? Do you have a way to check if what I input is slightly accurate or how do you do that?

Ari Raivetz:

It’s much more than slightly accurate. I mean, it is a garbage in garbage out process. So the data validation algorithms are one of the most important parts of the software. And we have two layers of data validation. The first layer is just simple kind of checks. Like for example, in biological wastewater, the level of ammonia cannot exceed the total nitrogen. So if somebody were to enter a higher influence pneumonia than a higher influent TKN, it would immediately give them an error message. Similarly, we have ratios of the DOD to Cod, to TKN, to TSS that we use in our validation. The second layer is an algorithmic validation that happens on the server side. And basically we just do a very quick steady state simulation to see, hf there are issues with the inputs that the user put there. And if there are we’ll spit back in our message and tell you what needs to be corrected.

Antoine Walter:

So assuming that I correct my data or that it was correct from the first stake, once you are sure that the data is right, it goes to process engineering, right? Yes.

Ari Raivetz:

So now we’re going to talk about different modules, but in many cases, these processes are happening simultaneously on the servers. But I think when we talk about it, it’s easier to talk about in a kind of more sequential way. So the first step is process engineering and there are algorithms which take the inputs, both the actual water characteristics, as well as the preferences that you have for this project. And they set up a model, they select all the different process units that are needed to treat that wastewater. And then they go through the mathematical calculations to size those units. And after that’s done, it goes to a third party simulator. There are various simulators that are used in the industry, and we’ll go through both steady state and dynamic simulation dynamic is 365 days with diurnal flow patterns. And at the end of that process, you will have the size of each tank in your treatment facility. You will have all the process units and all their characteristics, and you will have the air requirement, how much area you need, how much chemical you need, the kind of core process parameters that drive the operating costs.

Antoine Walter:

So just about this third-party simulator you were mentioning, are we talking of process modeling here? Like Cimbar GPS X or something different? Yeah,

Ari Raivetz:

Exactly. Our bio LAN or Sumo. Those are kind of four of the simulators that are used by the industry. So we can go use any third-party simulator as part of the design process.

Antoine Walter:

Okay. So once this process engineering is done, you can move to the mechanical engineering, I guess.

Ari Raivetz:

Yes. And just to reiterate, this is all happening on web servers without any human intervention, right? So the algorithms have selected the processes. They’ve sized them. They’ve started up the simulator, they’ve iterated in the simulator and they’ve taken the outputs now. And so now we have the outputs from that process engineering phase, just like when a process engineer, hands, their process design over to a mechanical engineer, that process happens on the server. So we have to translate that data from kind of process language to mechanical language. And then here we go through equipment sizing and selection. So we are based on the process that was designed, we are using algorithms to select and size every piece of mechanical equipment in the treatment facility.

Antoine Walter:

So that means that you have to rely on the database on the existing equipment, or how does that work? It’s like a library, which says there’s activated carbon filter or something else. How does that actually work?

Ari Raivetz:

That’s correct. So at our core transcend our software developers who are also engineers, water, engineers, energy engineers, and so on. And so over time, we’ve built up a comprehensive database of all of the different types and sizes of equipment that would go into a water treatment or a wastewater treatment facility. And it is a generic equipment that’s done in the professional enlight versions that are available on our website for a subscription or in an enterprise version. You know, we can use branded equipment based on what that particular client wants and if they have their own database of equipment that they like to use, and we can easily integrate that into the selection, the sizing algorithms there.

Antoine Walter:

So if I was Veolia, for instance, and I come to you and I say, by the way, here, it’s not a filter it’s called an active flu or whatever, what’d you just have to input the parameters and then I can use my proprietary equipment.

Ari Raivetz:

Yeah, that’s correct. Active flow is, I mean, you throw it out there as an example. I mean, that’s a proprietary technology of Veolia. I’m not sure if there’s a generic technology for high right clarification or not. If there was, we would have a generic technology in our database and then if the only was a client and they wanted to customize for their specific equipment, we would replace it with their active flow and we would use their sizing and selection rules to effectively size that act of flow. So,

Antoine Walter:

Okay. And for the generic one on, what do you build on, is it like, you know, there’s the, I’m assuming as boy, I grew up with Suez, so we had this blue Bible called the Duke lemon water handbook and everybody, every engineer would have that Bible, but that Bible actually tells you that the sand filter can be designed from these two days. So did you read through all these Bibles? I know there’s the Nalco Bible. There, there are several ones. Did you read through all of them to create your database? Or how did you proceed?

Ari Raivetz:

I don’t know if that is that as Bible or Devin Bible, a public document. Like, could you get that on the website? You can buy it. Yeah, exactly. So if it’s in the public domain, you know, in, in the U S many engineers use Metcalf and Eddy, which was kind of the original wastewater Bible and the still taught in many universities or whatever is out there in the public domain, that’s what we’re using. And if there’s multiple options, we either have a selection choice in the design process. So, you know, would you like to size based on X or Y or we make a choice based on our feeling of what the proper best practice is, and that’s kind of hardwired into the rules there.


Antoine Walter:

Okay. So my data was good. You could do some process engineering with it, some mechanical engineering with it, and now, you know exactly which treatment train I have to use to achieve my intended treatment objectives. So what’s the next step.

Ari Raivetz:

So we know a lot more than the treatment train at that point, right? We know every process unit, we know what size it needs to be, the volume it needs to be. We know the air requirement, we know the chemical requirement and we’ve now sized and selected every piece of equipment. So we know the dimensions of that equipment, the material that that equipment’s made out of, and with our algorithms, we also know where the equipment needs to be from a layout point of view in a facility. So we can build the bin model. We can actually build a three-dimensional building information model, think of it as a parametric data structure in the cloud, which represents all of the structures inside of that treatment facility. And this is the civil and architectural design phase of designing a wastewater plant. So we have various kind of modules within this.

You can actually think of it as like a four-part process in the first part, we’re virtually generating spaces or physical spaces to lay out the equipment and the process units that were identified in the prior steps. So now we have a data structure that represents those spaces. Next we’re arranging spaces. They have to be arranged in a certain sequence. They have to be arranged in a way where it’s most space efficient. And you can think about it like this in the very beginning, when Organica at the time of organic one, when the software was first developed, maybe the first designs, if you were designing a person, it would have been like they had their on their head, you know, so you have to build in a rules that say, okay, well, your needs to be in this general area. And that’s what, what these rules do.

And then, you know, over time we’re using evolutionary algorithms, we’re arranging them in a much more efficient way. And once you have all the spaces and they’re all arranged, you have to add elements to those spaces. So you have to add access rails, doors, windows, you know, if there are buildings, you have to have like the thickness of the walls and so on. And once you have that, you can essentially generate a virtual BIM model. And then that BIM model can be opened in any third party software like Revvit or Bentley or any of the other ones out there on the market.

Antoine Walter:

And what is the level of detail that you have in that beam model? Do you go up to, you mentioned that the windows and the doors, so I’m starting to think it’s quite detained, but what is the limit

Ari Raivetz:

And construction firms in the U S will say that we’re doing the first 30% of the design?

Antoine Walter:

Okay. So now to my feeling, it gets really incredible. If I get it right now, you push a button and you get every kind of document you would wish, right?

Ari Raivetz:

Actually you push the button in the beginning. So everything we just described, the process engineering, the mechanical engineering, the civil and architectural design. And by the way, within the mechanical phase, we’re also selecting the instruments. So we have an IO list. We’re selecting on the equipment. We’re looking at the electrical consumption and doing some very kind of early electrical design. So there’s some electrical and controls engineering that’s happening in that mechanical phase as well. But that’s all happened on the cloud when you hit the button the first time, typically, you know, it happens in a few hours, the simulation takes longer. It can take up to eight hours, but typically it’s happening on the servers. Again, just no human intervention, but now you just have a data structure me, say, you know, everything that’s going to be in the plan. You have a virtual BIM model, you have all the equipment data, you have all the process data.

So all you have to go, you know, you can put it together into documents. And so we have a document generator module and make, you know, up to, you know, 15 or more engineering documents. And most importantly, the documents are available in PDF form, but they’re also available in their native form. So you can open up your process or diagram or your P and ID in AutoCAD, and you can edit it in the future. When you add more detail in, you can open up your BIM model and rev it, and then you can start to add the level of detail, the final 70%, you know, that we don’t have in there. And you can open up all of your, your word and Excel documents and use them for cost estimation and add more details over time. And that’s it. When it’s done, it generates those documents that send you an email and you’ll come back a few hours after you hit submit, and you have all those documents there.

Antoine Walter:

I guess that what you just described that you have this, these native documents makes for what you call this head starts that you might have then in the detailed design, because you can already drew on what was existing. Right.

Ari Raivetz:

That’s exactly right. So that was one of the biggest pain points that we’ve heard from clients over time is that, you know, after they do this preliminary engineering, they always end up having to start from scratch. The process is not connected to the detailed engineering side. And so by using our software, you know, you naturally have this database of all the designs you’ve run for every project. You can imagine company like Veolia or Suez would have run, you know, 20 different designs for one project. And so you’d have all 20 listed. And then when you choose the final one that the client wants, you just open it up and you start from there on the details.

Antoine Walter:

That would, I mean, I can give you my testimony here is back in the days when it was working at, in Suez, it’s basically whatever was done in proposal phase and was absolutely good until the client signs. And the second that the client signed, you would throw everything away and you start from scratch again. Now with the real boys, you know, they’re the one that really know what they do

Ari Raivetz:

At the end of the day, the client doesn’t get what they wanted. A lot of times the client doesn’t get what they wanted. I mean, I think one of the reasons we exist as a company is because we want the engineering firms and the technology providers to deliver better outcomes for the utilities. And oftentimes they don’t. And this way, if you’re focused on what the client wants, instead of getting those drawings done so I can get my proposal out, it changes the whole dynamic of the industry, and hopefully helps innovation happen faster projects happen faster, and it gives everyone happier clients. So,

Get Season 1's Summary!

17+ hours of tips, technical advice, business hints, entrepreneurial inspiration, and market insights condensed in a MASSIVE 94 PAGES INFOGRAPHIC

20 chapters featuring 19 experts, each one addressing a specific chunk of the water industry cake

An evergreen source of Water Expertise at your fingertips to support you through 2021 and the years to come

Book Cover: Don't Waste Water Podcast, Season 1 in a nutshell

Antoine Walter:

So far, I think I’ve been a bit too transparent about my enthusiasm. I have to be now a bit the devil’s advocate, one of the limits of your system, are there some processes that you cannot cover some water conditions, which makes it impossible to compute? Did you already find the limit to your system?

Ari Raivetz:

Absolutely. So we always start every call with a potential enterprise client by explaining what we are and what we are not. And you look at this, it’s a software as a service tool. So we’re constantly adding new processing units to it. You know, as of today on October 23rd, it does Greenfield wastewater plants at some point in November, December. And you’re going to see us release a version for brownfield wastewater plants over time. We’re adding process units that allow you to handle industrial flows today. We’re just doing light industrial and municipal flows, but over time we add more and more processing units. So you can handle more and more types of wastewater. It is never going to be able to do the truly custom industrial wastewater jobs. So things like a textile plant where they’re changing the dyes every six hours or a fry site, where, you know, I originally got interested in the water space.

Those are really custom design jobs that have to be done, you know, one-off, and at least today the technology doesn’t exist to use automation for those. But we do believe that over time, as we add more and more process units, we’re going to cover in larger and larger percentage of the total designs that are able to be done for wastewater. We’re also adding a drinking water module next year. So we’re able to handle that as well and mean that just gives you a sense of what it does. I mean, the other aspect from a limitation point of view, isn’t about the kind of types of waste water can handle or the types of water treatment we can do, but it’s about the level of detail that’s in there. So we’re not going down to the nuts and bolts. We’re not doing the pipes in the isometrics. Those are things that are done in detailed engineering. This is about the preliminary engineering.

Antoine Walter:

So who’s your target customer. I would guess it’s the EPC, but could it also be the engineering consultant?

Ari Raivetz:

So when Organica started to use the software, it totally changed the business overnight, went from clients having to wait weeks and weeks to get one designed, to being able to show clients eight different options in a day. And it became a huge competitive advantage for organic go to be able to respond to clients faster, with more detail and more options. It was also a great advantage from the detailed engineering point of view because we had a headstart. So it took less hours to do detailed engineering, and that was better from a cost reduction or a margin point of view for the business. And then from an R and D point of view, every time organic developed a new technology, we were able to quickly integrate that into the design procedure. And we run old designs because you have sales cycles in this industry that are years long with the new improvement and give clients that benefit.

And so that is one kind of customer for us, or are the technology providers, the OEMs, anyone from a Veolia Suez down to a smaller company, like an organic, this is a tool that can make them more efficient, allow them to bid on more projects, do more detail, responding to clients faster, integrate on the innovations faster and reduced Intel engineering costs, a second kind of client and equally important are the engineering firms themselves. And that could be large engineering firms or smaller engineering that would use our professional and DG light tools that are available on our website. Anyone with a credit card can subscribe for those, and this is about making them more efficient so that they deliver better outcomes for their clients. It’s a tool to reduce their non-billable hours tool to allow them to evaluate more options within the same time period. And again, just give clients what they want. And we do also have some asset owners that are interested in using this. These are people that do have in-house engineering firms in house engineering staff, I should say. And they typically outsource a lot of engineering work, but they would like to do some of it. In-house. And so they’re looking at using the software for that as well.

Antoine Walter:

Can you give us a glimpse into your existing customer base or big is it today?

Ari Raivetz:

I don’t share publicly the names of our customers and transcend was starting in December of 2019. So two months after we started, I was spun out from Organica in December of 2019. So two months after we started, COVID hit. And, you know, I’ve been grounded here in Princeton ever since it’s probably the longest I’ve gone without traveling. So I’m essentially a COVID baby born during COVID. And, he’ve had to adapt everything from our sales processes to our hiring processes and everything in between, but we have had a very good first year in 2020, I’d say we’ve exceeded our expectations on the enterprise side. And then we’ve just launched our lighten end processional products, actually just the people weeks ago. So they’ve only become available. So, you know, a few weeks ago for people to register with a credit card and use them. So

Antoine Walter:

Above this aspect of being able to register with a credit card, I just had loop to a, to your various packages. And I really don’t want to sound too salesy, but you know, here in Europe, if you have to pay a good consultant who knows a bit about process design, you would pay him roughly 1,800 per day. That’s roughly the daily costs. And here I see that for, for the same amount. I get the full design of my plant. When of course that guy alone is not going to be able to do a food plan design in one day. So that sounds like a steal. That’s

Ari Raivetz:

Great. Tell your friends,

Antoine Walter:

You know, when, back in my days in, in Suez, sometimes you would approach a project and you know, that’s, you’re not necessarily the preferred vendor there because they used to be, you know, there’s Suez, there’s Veolia. Sometimes the customer has been working with Veolia several times in the past, and you approached him. He has a problem. You might be able to solve that problem, but you’re thinking, is it worth, is it worth it working with that project? Because I will need to take my proposal team to take my engineering team and they will have to work to find something. And a long before we get a chance to get the contract, we will be already spending thousands, tens of thousands. So there was a process in place at two at the time, which was called the go no-go. So at this stage, you meet the customer, you come back home and you explain your CEO, why you as a, as a sales guy, you would go. And,uhe tells you with all the best reasons in the world, why you should not go because the chances to win compared to the risk to give out all this money is it’s not worth it. It’s just not worth it. And then there’s you, and I’m starting to think, you know,uthat’s a revolution for the end user because they are going to get much more ideas from much more people around the table, assuming that everybody hits the bandwagon, but

Ari Raivetz:

That you had done now squarely on the head. So, I mean, that is, you know, our mission as a company is, you know, myself, our COO Steve Davis, Adam tank, our commercial director. We’ve, we’ve all been around this industry for 15 plus years. And the pace of innovation is just, it’s awful. It’s just really slow and we’ll want to change that. So we believe that exactly what you said, that if the end users get more options in rest time, that if you know software like this is used for the preliminary engineering, so that whether the engineering firms, the EPC is the technology providers are forced to provide these options to clients and do more for them in these stages without having to spend all that money and all those resources, it’s totally going to change the game in the industry. We’re going to see more sustainable water infrastructure, you know, everywhere that the software is used.

Ari Raivetz:

That is our mission. As a company, we actually believe this can expand well beyond water, but that’s a discussion for another time, but I really believe that it’s going to change things. Then we talk about our challenge. Our challenge as a company is to transcend the, kind of, let’s say, difficult culture inside these large firms in the industry, like your former place of work. So I have a question for you, which is if you were at Suez and this was there, how do you think it would be received inside the company? You know, how do you think that the culture that’s been built inside these big companies can adapt to using a tool like this and how fast can that change happen? And, you know, what are your thoughts on that?

Antoine Walter:

Well, that’s a broad and difficult question. I would say. You know, I remember people trying to make like a lot of programming within Excel, Excel, macros, just to try to make even a portion of what you do. So those guys, they, they will be incredibly happy because the burden would just be much lower than don’t have to, to maintain pages and pages of Excel, macro, and then ultimately never really, really, really works and so far and so on. So I would say that those guys would be happy, but on the other end, you know, when you were assu as where you were, when you were this kind of very big boys, you build your reputation and you build your full history on the fact that you are the absolute experts in engineering. And now if you had to rely on a computer to do your job, I would imagine that they would be breaking quite hard to explaining you how much a human is going to always going to be better than any kind of machine. So there must be a bit of both. I don’t want to speak for them. I think that could be a interesting question to raise directly to them actually. But I could see both have things. I’m sure you’re going to be very excellent friends with all the people working on the commercial side, just because their life is going to be so, so much easier, but the engineering departments might be a, a castle you have to, to overtake it.

Ari Raivetz:

Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of cultural challenges with this and it’s very similar to the other part of my career. When I watched ERP and supply chain software get implemented in various consumer products and manufacturing businesses, there were big changes there similar to when CRM got implemented and how sales and marketing organizations reacted to it. So it’s something that, you know, I’ve dealt with a lot in my career, but that’s kind of like, what’s going to define the success of transect is our ability to transcend those cultural challenges inside of companies. And I mean, when it comes to enterprise customers, but we customize the rules based on the rules that their engineers use. So, you know, if those engineers are using a handbook that can be put into code pretty easily, actually. So at least easily for us anyways. So that’s the kind of path that we’re on.

Antoine Walter:

It’s good because it’s not a show. It’s not recording, nobody’s listening. So I can say that. No, but I remember there were some tools that we were using and the guys which had developed the tools were no longer with the company because they’re retired like 20 years ago. And nobody had a clue what those tools were relying on. We just knew that empirically it was working. So that’s the output was giving you something which was realistic, but in between it was like black magic. So I think this is the kind of thing you have to build this trust in your tools so that you can blindly trust them just because you’ve been building them in 2000 plants. So whatever happens in between ease, okay. Even if you have no clue what it is. Yeah.

Ari Raivetz:

I mean, we hear that all the time, all the time, you know, we hear people say, we’ve tried this before. We’ve tried this before two or three times, it can’t be done. We hear people say we have internal tools that we’ve been using for 15 years and nobody knows how they were built. I mean, we hear it in almost every conversation and then we’ll just show them what we have. And, you know, from there it’s more about a discussion of how do we implement this in our company? How do we change behaviors and get people to adopt it? And you’re right. I mean, the commercial people love it, but the engineering teams are typically the gatekeepers. And it was very similar to the experience I had at Organica because the commercial people wanted this. They could never get responses from engineering fast enough ever. They were calling them at all hours.

You know, when is this going to be done? When can I send it to the client or the client changed their mind, they want this. And then the engineers would throw their hands in the air because all I have to redo everything. And when we launched it and we’ve seen this at various mines at transcend, the engineers love it because all of a sudden, they don’t have to deal with that stuff anymore. They can focus on the real problem solving, which is why they got involved in that job or vocation in the first place, you know, and it totally changed the kind of happiness quotient for engineers. And I mean, we saw better retention than ever before because of it. So I think it’s a real game changer in ways that we don’t even think about.

Antoine Walter:

So actually what’s your path forward because you just joined the accelerator elemental accelerator. And if I got it right, being part of that cohort means that your targets is to make a factor 10 on the company within two years. So what’s your path forward to achieve that, which is a huge ambition.

Ari Raivetz:

Yes. And we’re super excited to be part of elemental. It is, you know, more than 800 companies apply and only 15 were selected and wow, it’s super competitive. And she has a group of very passionate people who are really smart and experienced in driving impact. And, you know, I’m a big believer that we can’t fix our climate problems. One project at a time know that we need scalable ways to do things. And I really believe that software can provide that. And I think a lot of the problems that we face are in the design stage in that early stages of project development, when not enough options are considered, new technologies are not considered and this artwork and change that. So, you know, our goal is to start by building it out within the water sector, there’s in the U S alone. You know, we estimate there’s more than 70,000 water and wastewater engineers that could potentially benefit from using the software.

We target them and try to make their lives easier. And then at the same time, you know, we look at expanding this to other industries, other places where critical infrastructure is being designed, inefficiently, whether that’s power, whether that’s building design. And one of the first use cases for the software this year was actually to take parking lots, enter the dimensions of a parking lot and generate drawings to turn it into a COVID testing facility, a rapid COVID testing facility. So there’s all kinds of ways that, you know, we can grow by using this design automation concept in other sectors, even beyond water. So that’s kind of the path forward for us in the future.

Antoine Walter:

And what’s your long-term vision because you know, it’s acquisition time. If you see that the number one in the world is able to buy the number two, in the words, in the water world, you could imagine that anybody can be bought by anybody. And that that’s somehow is your far away background. So what’s your longterm vision for transcend. Are you going to be there the next big boy in five, 10 years time? Or would you say that there might be a chance at some point that one of those big players just says, it’s not possible to have so much value outside of the company and they need you, they need you to be part of, of the group.

Ari Raivetz:

No, I’ve been involved in startups for pretty much my whole career other than my years of bank of America. And you know, the only thing that’s certain about startups is that stuff is uncertain. So never know where things can go. So, you know, I won’t talk about the kind of potential end game paths here, but I do think that we’re at the beginning of a transformation in the engineering and construction industry in both water and in other sectors related to design and critical infrastructure. And we are at the beginning of this transformation because we’ve ignored climate change for way too long. And the problems gotten really bad. And now we have to act and public sentiment in Europe and also in the U S even has changed and people want to act right. I mean, I have two 13 year old daughters, I think about what their life is going to be like, what their kids’ lives is going to be like, and we have to change. And so we want to be part of that transformation. We want to help show what’s possible by using software to kind of scale climate impacting solutions. And that’s really our path forward.

Antoine Walter:

Well, that’s a beautiful mission. I have to say, I have to be cautious of your time. I have to be cautious of the time of the people listening to us. I could be discussing that matter with you for another hour, but I’d suggest to you that we switched to the rapid fire question.

Rapid Fire Questions

Antoine Walter:

So in that section, I just ask you questions that I try to keep short and ideally you can try to keep your answers short as well, but don’t limit yourself. If you have to be a bit longer and to elaborate, I’m not going to cut the microphone. So first question, what is the most exciting project you’ve been working on and why?

Ari Raivetz:

So, one of the projects we’re working on is helping kind of a new market entrance into the water space with being able to scale their offering quickly. And I just think that’s a great use case for the software because when you’re introducing a new product, typically firms will set up a whole team and, you know, it’s not always the most economic way to do that. And I think by using our software to do it, you can do it in a very kind of resource light manner. And it gives the project a much better chance of success because their whole rate is so much higher when you have to have a big team involved in kind of a, a new initiative like that. So I’m super excited about that.

Antoine Walter:

So that’s a technology supplier, or

Ari Raivetz:

I don’t want to say, but it’s in the space.

Antoine Walter:

So what’s your favorite part of your current job?

Ari Raivetz:

I just love building the team and that’s really the most exciting part of it for me, you know, seeing how people grow into their different roles as the company grows. I mean, usually, you know, in pre COVID times, I probably got to answer this by saying, it’s sitting with customers cause that’s really what I love, but on the zooms and stuff, it’s just, it’s hard. It’s hard to do that in the same way. So yeah, I mean, but that’s been so far at least, you know, for the past 11 months or so, that’s been the most favorite part for me.

Antoine Walter:

What is the trend to watch out in the water industry?

Ari Raivetz:

Interesting one, I mean, obviously the whole Veolia Suez potential merger, you know, is, you know, has the potential to shake up the industry. I think one of the likely unintended consequences of that if it were to happen is that you’re going to have a huge amount of talent. That’s out there. That’s passionate about water. It’s funny from Philadelphia. People always say that people from Philly stay in Philly, so they lived their whole life there and they never leave. And I think the water industry is the same way. You know, when people get involved in water, they get passionate about it. They never want to leave it. And so I think you’re going to see all this talent, you know, trying to innovate in the industry and hopefully usually mergers kind of stifle innovation. And that’s one of the arguments in antitrust theory. But in reality, all these people out there trying new things, going to startups, I mean, that’s exciting. It could spark a lot of innovation in the industry.

Antoine Walter:

That brings me to a, an unforeseen question, sorry. I said it has to be short and I’m the one making longer. But back in the days when I was in Suez, I had the impression that it was about big groups, that the water treatment was about big groups. And over the past two years, I see so many startups left and right, which are really reshaping this industry. Would you say that I was not giving enough attention or would you also say that there’s a trend to a bit more new bloods in this industry?

Ari Raivetz:

It’s interesting. I mean, historically it’s an industry with massive players on top 20 huge companies and then tons of tiny little companies. Most of them never make it. And if they do make it, they usually get snatched up by one of the big guys. But I mean, I do think that with the amount of consolidation that’s happened, you know, you have the potential for a lot of these startups to grow into their own right, to become major players in the industry. And so, you know, if you were to look at, at the water sector in 2030, you might see some new names in that kind of mid range of the industry who have grown organically, or maybe through some smaller acquisitions on there.

Antoine Walter:

So let me make a up visit with you in 2030. And we have to check that. What Is the thing you care about the most when you’re working on a new project and what is the one you care the less

Ari Raivetz:

Making the customer happy is by far the most important thing in any new project, especially for a new company like transcend, how about the least? I mean, I, I’m a very detail oriented person, so I care about most stuff, but I guess if I would have to say the least, I always feel like it’s more important in the software world to get a product out there for clients than to get the perfect product out there for our client. So the expression that, you know, don’t sacrifice the good in favor of the perfect comes up a lot here, and we will release a product with less features to make sure it’s out there and they can start to see the value because for us, it’s not about the software, it’s about how the business is going to use it. That’s what business process automation is about. And that’s what cultural transformation is about. So we want them to start using it as quickly as possible.

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20 chapters featuring 19 experts, each one addressing a specific chunk of the water industry cake

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Book Cover: Don't Waste Water Podcast, Season 1 in a nutshell

Antoine Walter:

I think that’s one of these rare occasion where the French language is a bit catchier than the English language in French. We safe face and NewCo parfait, Dawn and perfect have the same sound, the same to say basically done is better than perfect, but

Ari Raivetz:

That’s great. That’s great to brag about being friends. So let me brag a bit.

Antoine Walter:

Do you have sources to recommend, to keep up with the water and wastewater market trends?

Ari Raivetz:

I use LinkedIn a lot for that. I think it’s great and Twitter a little bit less so, but LinkedIn is a great source and following the right people there, I think water online is great. It’s been around for a long time, so they have a lot of good content there. Those are two, two good places that I would recommend.

Antoine Walter:

So talking about these good people you should follow. That’s actually my last question, would you have someone to recommend that we should definitely invite to the same microphone?

Ari Raivetz:

I will suggest that you invite Cambrian innovation, who is another elemental portfolio cohort company in this cohort with us? I think that they, they would be a great guest. They have an interesting technology on the wastewater side and they’ve been around for a long time in the past, a lot of different experiences with kind of getting adoption for that. So that’d be a great guy.

Antoine Walter:

So I make sure to extend an invitation, talking of a great guests. I have to say we had lots of fun recording these interview with you. I’m excited about your offering. So I’m really looking forward to see how that’s going to develop. Thanks a lot for, for your time. And thanks a lot for all the value that you brought us. And where can I recommend our listeners to, to have a look at you? Is it the website of transcends that you LinkedIn?

Ari Raivetz:

Yeah. TranscendH2O.com is the best place. You follow me on LinkedIn follow transcend on LinkedIn while Adam tank on LinkedIn. Who’s our director of digital transformation and,udoes a lot of great stuff on, on LinkedIn. So check us out. Thank you very much for having me today.

Antoine Walter:

I put all the other, the links in there in the episode notes for the one listening to this. So thanks a lot. And let’s meet in 2030.

Ari Raivetz

Sounds good.

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