WaterSmart Software Raises $7M to Help Utilities Save Water, Predict Demand

With record drought and snowfall across the country, WaterSmart Software Inc. has raised $7 million in Series B funding, with a $21 million pre-money valuation, to help water utilities manage every last drop.

Among other things, WaterSmart’s software aggregates and analyzes information from millions of water meters, predicts what demand will look like in coming seasons, and helps utilities communicate with customers about everything from leaks at home to rate changes.

A family office that declined to be named publicly led the Series B investment in WaterSmart, joined by the company’s earlier backers Apsara Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Physic Ventures and The Westly Group.

A former adviser to Presidents Bush and Clinton on science, tech and environmental issues, Hal Harvey, will join the board of WaterSmart with the new funding round.

Mr. Harvey, currently the CEO of Energy Innovation, said conditions are ideal for WaterSmart to expand across the .S. due to environmental realities and increasing water demand.

“We are entering a world of resource optimization rather than resource exploitation, and this requires more information and analytics to drive better informed decisions,” he said, referencing both utilities and households.

He said he sees WaterSmart’s approach as differentiated from most tech firms that want to address the water industry, because the startup focuses on the demand side, rather than the supply side.

WaterSmart founder and board member Peter Yolles says, “A lot of utilities are still thinking about one-size-fits-all public-service announcements and campaigns that can get their customers to care more about water quality and conservation. Nothing’s wrong with [those], but we have 21st century technology that can get customer education to a much higher level.”

“We can help drive conservation,” CEO Robin Gilthorpe said, “but we can also help get people to transition to electronic billing, or nudge them behaviorally to do other things that take some of the cost out of the equation for the [water] utility.”

For these reasons, WaterSmart’s business draws comparisons to International Business Machines Corp. to startups like MeterHero.

Investors expect the company to use the new funding to “accelerate go-to-market activities and develop new product capabilities,” Mr. Harvey said.

Previously, WaterSmart raised $6.9 in seed and venture capital, after winning Imagine H2O’s inaugural water-tech competition in 2010.

Since it raised a Series A in August 2013, the company has gained some traction with utilities in the U.S., according Mr. Gilthorpe. It now counts 38 utilities as clients in dry states like California and Texas, and elsewhere.

And the company said its systems have helped save over 1 billion gallons of water to-date, and currently manage information coming through 2 million smart water meters in North America.