Startup Spotlight: Sutro
Founded in 2012, Sutro is an IoT solution to a common household pain point: monitoring and treating pools and spas. According to their AngelList page, homeowners spend an average of 40 hours and $1,500 on pool maintenance. Their drop-in device pairs with an app that transmits water quality information and treatment instructions right to your phone. For their $300 device, Sutro says their product reduces costs 5x and general hair-tearing by 10x.
Besides avoiding pesky math and chemistry, Sutro integrates with Amazon Prime and Amazon Alexa to also automate chemical, equipment, and accessory purchasing, too. If you aren't married to any particular brand, Sutro has its own store and subscription service to deliver what you need, when you need it right to you door (err, pool). The app can even connect users to a network of service technicians to schedule appointments on demand.
CEO Ravi Kurani grew up in the pool and spa industry working with his father who owned a chain of pool supply stores. In an interview with Aqua magazine, Kurani said, "I learned how to test chemicals at a very early age. In the 30 years my father has owned the pool and spa business, there haven't been any sort of waves in terms of technology, so I wanted to help the industry move forward and help the end user understand their chemistry better."
Thus, Sutro was born. The company was named after the largest indoor swimming pool in San Francisco opened in 1896 by the former mayor of the city, Adolph Sutro. In addition to making waves in the pool industry, Kurani has been featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 List this year. But it's not all beakers and test tubes - the company recently showed a silly side with an April Fool's press release. We had a chance to catch up with Kurani and CTO Andrew Redfern to talk more about Sutro.
How did you team up and decide this idea was worth pursuing as a business?
I grew up in a baby seat behind the counter of a pool store that my family owned. We grew it to about 30 locations in its hey-day, and moved to building out multiple eCommerce properties. What I learned through this entire process is that chemistry management is the hardest part about owning a pool, and 100% of swimming pools need to be tested and treated with chemicals. What if I could take my Dad's pool store and stick it inside of a little robot that measured your pool chemistry and told you what chemicals to buy. This was the birth of Sutro. We quickly realized that our technology has much wider standing implications to agricultural water, aquaculture, and most importantly - drinking water.
What has been the company’s biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?
The company's biggest challenge has been building a stable sensor that can reliably be in a harsh environment, like the outdoors. Furthermore, a sensor that does not need to be calibrated. We overcame this by hiring and building the best team of engineers that we could put together for this problem. We understood the needs of the market and consistently reverted information back from the end-user to our team building the product. Having a clear and concise vision of what you're building and who you're building it for is key.
Describe your proudest moment with the company and what it meant to you.
The proudest moment was seeing our invention come to life. After we spent countless months on building a technology that was state-of-the-art, we were able to precisely measure water chemistry and sense what chemicals to put in the water.
Where do you envision Sutro 5 years from now?
Sutro is in a bunch of pools in the US, however; we're evolving the technology to solve drinking water issues around the world.
If you are interested in contacting Sutro or per-ordering their product, please visit their website at https://.mysutro.com.
The Community Manager for Orange Silicon Valley, Kaila Lawrence earned her BS in Communication from Endicott College. She specializes in social media, marketing, and copywriting. Kaila has written for several major brands like BJ's Wholesale Club, Levi's, Transformers, and Marvel.