In the basement of the Dominican Center for Women, basil, cucumbers and geraniums are blooming thanks to the fresh water shipped in to the center, which like many other Milwaukee homes, could have lead contaminated water.
“We use the bottled water for the plants because we are trying to grow healthy plants,” said Wesley Landry, garden caretaker and housing specialist for the center.
Stonehouse Water Technologies The company which has developed patent-pending technology for an energy-efficient water purification system raised $1.55 million in December 2017. The plan is to use that capital to manufacture the product.
Our guests on this week’s Biz Connection Radio Show are Dr. Moe Mukiibi and Anne Wick of Stonehouse Water Technologies.
Dr. Mukiibi and Wick visit with Biz Connection co-hosts Jim Rosetti and Ron Nielsen about the invention of POD (Purified Water on Demand). They discuss what POD is and what its invention means to you as a practical, affordable water purification system that provides healthy drinking water to those experiencing water contamination.
Dr. Kyana Young, a postdoctoral fellow at Marquette University (MU), began working in the Global Water Center in 2016. With a background in environmental engineering, Young’s passion is finding solutions for safe water to improve global and public health. Soon after she arrived, it occurred to her that there was a lack of diverse groups of people represented in the building. But it didn’t take her long to do something about that.
She spoke with staff at Marshall High School and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS)—including Larry Farris, Toby Hairston, Rochelle Sandrin, Jan Haven and Megan Sun—who helped her come up with an idea for a program that would provide opportunities to demographics that are underrepresented in scientific fields relating to water research.
She applied for a grant from MU with the support of the group at MPS and was awarded the university’s Strategic Innovation Fund Grant. The grant made it possible for her to provide internships to students at Marshall and bring them to the labs of the Global Water Center to do hands-on research. When working in the classroom at the high school, the youth learn how to write lab reports and do data analysis with their teacher, Megan Sun. The students are taught how to apply their newly learned scientific knowledge to solve real world problems.
Each student is assigned a project for the semester by participating companies and universities. Young asked these organizations to host and mentor the youth; organizations such as Stonehouse Water Technologies, Youth Rising Up, Solar Water Works, DRM International, Sun Yat Sen University, Grand Valley State University, Assembly of God, as well as MU. Young knew that the students needed more than community partners; they needed mentors like Moe Mukiibi, chief technology officer at Stonehouse Water Technologies (the company with the most interns in the program), to make the program a success.
The program is meant to “create a path for [students] that could be life-changing, so that they can see why they are working in a lab and see what this can become,” says Mukiibi. “When you provide an opportunity, and you back that up with resources, this is what can happen,” says Young as she describes how the students have excelled far beyond expectations. “This impacts the global community.”
Thanks to Kyana Young, our Hero of the Week, and the team at MPS, these students have a chance to explore their interests and realize career paths that can make a major difference in their lives.
Stonehouse Water Technologies LLC
Leadership: Hensley Foster, president
What it does: Develops water purification systems
Next goals: Complete first full-scale manufacturing run for Water Pod 8.
Revenue: Projected 2018: $2.25 million
What if the residents of Waukesha had water filtration systems installed in their homes to correct the city’s water quality issues?
Milwaukee’s Stonehouse Water Technologies LLC has developed a water filtration system for just that purpose, with the tagline: “Making the unthinkable drinkable.” The Water Pod 8 provides a compact whole-house water purification system that can handle as much as 20,000 gallons per day. It eliminates bad odor and taste, destroys 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses, and reduces heavy metals such as lead.
“We came up with this new design last summer and have been engineering it and testing it,” said president Hensley Foster. “Our whole idea is it’s going to be like an appliance that you put in your house.”
Stonehouse raised a $1.55 million funding round in November, which will help fund manufacturing and inventory of its Water Pod 8. It plans to roll out the product into the new construction, agriculture and private well markets in Wisconsin once it is produced.
One of the first tenants of the Global Water Center in Walker’s Point, Stonehouse credits its growth in part to the collaborative water innovation atmosphere in the building. Foster, a retired engineer, and vice president Anne Wick, a registered nurse, initially focused on developing countries in Africa and Asia. But then they learned there were areas much closer that needed its products.
Kewaunee, Wisconsin is one example right in Stonehouse’s backyard. It became a pilot site for the Pod 8.
“Kewaunee County is a very agricultural county. There are more dairy cattle in the county than humans, so there’s a lot of agricultural runoff, meaning manure. Unfortunately, a lot of that runoff ends up in the water table,” Wick said. “They had to take baths with bottled water for years.”
The pods can be customized depending on a customer’s water quality concerns, and the modular design will allow Stonehouse to add new filters later as they are developed. Stonehouse can remotely monitor their performance.
They are currently being manufactured at Romus Inc. in Roselle, Illinois, and Moldmakers Inc. also makes some of the parts locally. Moldmakers is a division of Germantown-based MGS Mfg. Group, which along with founder Mark Sellers was a lead investor in Stonehouse’s funding round.
Stonehouse plans to introduce at least three new products in 2018: a nitrate removal cartridge, an LED disinfection system and an arsenic removal cartridge for the pod.
“There’s just no way that we’re going to be able to stop global pollution—so we’re just going to have to deal with it,” Foster said.
Stonehouse Water Technologies LLC, an early-stage Milwaukee startup that develops water purification products, has raised $1.55 million in its first funding round, the company announced today.
The funding will allow the startup, which has developed patent-pending technology for an energy-efficient water purification system, to begin manufacturing the product.
Stonehouse’s patent-pending technology provides an energy efficient water purification system for residential, commercial, and agricultural properties. The WaterPOD is contained in the size of a dehumidifier.
Mark Sellers, who sold Germantown-based manufacturing solutions company MGS Mfg. Group Inc. to Milwaukee-based private equity firm Mason Wells in 2016, was the lead investor.
“Stonehouse’s technology and team represents Milwaukee’s strong expertise in the water, manufacturing and growing technology industries,” Sellers said in a statement. “We are looking forward to a strong partnership leveraging our manufacturing and design experience with Stonehouse’s innovation and successfully piloted products.”
The company, which started in 2012, began seeking investors in August, according to Dale Kooyenga, chief financial officer, who is also a member of the state Legislature. Within a week, Stonehouse was able to secure the investment, exceeding the initial goal set by company president Hensley Foster.
Stonehouse Water Technologies, located at the Global Water Center, plans for its final manufactured product, the WaterPOD 8, to be commercially available in early 2018. The purification system can be used for residential, commercial and agricultural properties.
“We’re hoping that, by as early as 2019, we will be selling thousands and thousands of units,” said Anne Wick, vice president of community relations. “This is going to be global, it’s not just going to be local.”
In addition to manufacturing, the funding will be directed toward research and development, as well as marketing efforts, Wick said. The company has seven employees in all, having recently added two new employees.
Wick credits Stonehouse’s residence in the Global Water Center and guidance from the Water Council in helping the company secure the investment.
Stonehouse was previously part of the Water Council’s Pilot Program, an effort by Wells Fargo, Fund for Lake Michigan, and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to advance new water technologies from the lab in Milwaukee to demonstration sites for real-world use.
“There are exciting and fascinating things happening here in Milwaukee when it comes to water,” Wick said. “And the Water Council has been instrumental. With the exposure that we get, you couldn’t get that anywhere else.”