Safe water and a clean environment are two seemingly simple factors that play a huge role in an individual’s health. But in low-income countries, those necessities aren’t always as accessible as turning on a tap or stopping by the store for some cleaning spray. Even hospitals, where sanitation can make the difference between healing or further complications, may suffer from poor hygiene in some communities.

Aqua Research is determined to combat this humanitarian crisis — with more than a grain of salt. Its affordable, innovative technologies can create a disinfectant and purify water using salt as a main ingredient. We reached out to founder and Chief Technology Officer Rodney Herrington to learn more about the company’s sales process and the organizations it collaborates with.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Funding Round Details

Aqua Research logo
Company: Aqua Research
Security Type: Equity - Common
Valuation: $7,074,581
Min Investment: $99
Platform: Netcapital
Deadline: Apr 28, 2023
View Deal

In your own words, how would you describe your company?

We make systems that users can use, with common salt as the primary consumable, to produce disinfectant solutions for health care applications — primarily sanitizers for health care facilities, drinking water treatment in developing countries, and biofilm removal in industrial cooling systems to eliminate the threat from Legionella, the leading waterborne pathogen of concern for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

I saw the possibility of making products that use only common salt as a consumable and that would be sustainable for those in low-income settings. This was finally possible with the evolution of low-cost solar panels and rechargeable batteries. After raising five children, it was finally possible to renew my entrepreneurial spirit and take the risk to start seeing my vision come alive.

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

We have a very dedicated team that began with Lois Warren, our chief operating officer, who joined us a year after formation in 2010. 

Katie Rich is our vice president of marketing, who I have worked with for 25 years on electrolytic technology. 

Gene Rabent is our new CEO, who joined in June 2022 and has an excellent track record with chemistry-based startups and successful mergers and acquisitions experience. 

Chris Dunston is a health professional who spent 25 years in the developing world promoting the value of chlorine in the health sector. He was formerly with the Hilton Foundation, promoting those programs in Africa. 

How is your product responding to the needs of NGOs?

Two billion people lack access to safe water, and there are more than 400,000 health care facilities in low-income settings that often lack access to sanitizing products. We are working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to give them access to quality products at an affordable price to address the needs that they are focused on — improving the lives and wellbeing of those in the poorest of poor settings.

How is your product responding to the needs of cooling towers?

Our technology was developed with the early assistance of funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a highly effective form of disinfectants for our military personnel. This technology destroys biofilms in cooling tower systems, the ideal breeding ground for biofilms. Legionella is able to survive in cooling systems only because they have the protection of biofilms. Without biofilms, Legionella cannot survive. New legislation is being implemented countrywide to address the threat from Legionella. We provide the lowest-cost and safest technology to replace the hazardous and expensive biocides used throughout the industry today.

What is the sales process with NGOs and with cooling towers?

We are currently working with leading NGOs, including PATH, the largest consistently funded NGO by the Gates Foundation. PATH’s mission is to introduce innovative solutions to health care problems in developing countries. After it evaluates a technology and demonstrates that it works, it works with ministers of health in developing countries to get the technology introduced into the national supply chains of those countries. With other leading NGOs such as Catholic Relief Services and World Vision, we work to apply the technology to more than 100 countries worldwide.

In the cooling tower market, we work with local cooling service companies who have relationships with the operators of 2 million cooling towers nationwide. Our model is to sell to business-to-business companies to either purchase or lease the equipment, depending on the financial needs of the customer. 

What is your strategy to increase your revenues?

Our first priority is to hire a sales staff to accelerate our sales activity and to build the infrastructure to support sales. Our product line is well developed and field proven. It is just a matter of increasing our sales effort.  

We look forward to seeing where Rodney and his team take the company. Aqua Research is currently raising on Netcapital.