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Current 2017 Innovators Forum

· Events,WEFTEC,Partnerships,Members

Current's inaugural Innovators Forum, held during this year's Water Environment Foundation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) in Chicago, convened over 125 of the country’s leading investors, innovators, and industry executives for an afternoon of lively panel discussions. Panelists shared insights on how to successfully navigate business pitfalls and growth opportunities in the water and wastewater industry.

The first panel, moderated by water industry executive and entrepreneur Mike Reardon, featured a fascinating discussion among industry leaders about how they led their companies from technology development through market-scaling into sustained growth. Panelists included Andrew Benedek, Founder of Zenon and Anaergia; Andy Seidel, CEO of UGSI Solutions; Omar Hammoud, President of APG Neuros; and Craig Beckman, CEO of Aqua Membranes.

Mark Bertler of The McLean Group moderated the second panel on successful and growing water companies. Phillip Abrary, President and CEO of Andion North America; Ari Raivetz, Chairman and CEO of Organica Water; Matthew Silver, Founder and CEO of Cambrian Innovation; and Wayne Byrne, Managing Director of OxyMem spoke about their go-to-market strategies and where their companies are headed next.

Main take-aways from the panels:

  • Time vs. money- Receiving significant investment too early can be an impediment if funding diverts attention from strategic growth. “More than enough funding” risks creating a culture that distracts focus from getting the business to sustainability/break even.
  • Your team is everything- Having the right people in the right role at the right time is critical a company’s success. As an early stage company grows, staffing may need to shift from relying on leaders with technical expertise to leaders with proven business savvy.
  • Many forms of innovation- A venture can create innovation in more ways than through technology development alone. For example, a product sale that incorporates a continuing service relationship (i.e. recurring revenue), that ensures customer satisfaction, can nurture the viability of the business unit.
  • Many paths to scalability- In addition to selling more, focus on multiple channels to market and making it easy for your customer to buy from you.

As an investor in the water industry, I found the Current Innovators Forum uniquely useful as it brought together young innovative companies and the industry leaders together under one roof. The sessions also added fresh insights. I plan to participate in the future events.” Praveen Sahay, Managing Director at Wave Equity Partners

The Current Water Innovator Forum at WEFTEC was outstanding. The panel, comprised of industry experts from diverse backgrounds, provided robust and keen insight regarding investing in the water industry. It wrapped up in a networking opportunity that generated numerous new relationships for us. An overall fantastic event that I look forward to attending again next year.” Scott Daum, Managing Director at Parallel49 Equity

Congratulations to the team at Current for organizing a fabulous event focused on real world problems and solutions related to water conservation, reuse and technology. Unlike many water events I have participated in over the past 15 years, this event was led by seasoned water industry executives and innovative technology leaders driving change and results. As an active family office investor in the water sector we found this conference informative and quite valuable for networking purposes.” Frank McGrew, Managing Partner at McNally Capital

I found the Innovators Forum to be an exceptionally good discussion on the challenges and opportunities new water/wastewater entrepreneurs face. Very well done with great perspective.” Peter Gross, Water Skipper at Emerson Collective

Contact George Brigandi at if you are interested in participating in our next Innovators Forum.

Current Executive Director Steve Frenkel gives welcome remarks.

Andrew Benedek, founder of Zenon, during the day’s first panel.

Second panel participants (L-R): Mark Bertler (McLean Group), Matthew Silver (Cambrian Innovation), Phillip Abrary (Ostara), Ari Raivetz (Organica Water), and Wayne Byrne (Oxymem).

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