Sivan Cohen is CEO of Noria Water Technologies, an LA-based startup that optimizes membrane-based water treatment. Sivan is the first founder to experience Imagine H2O twice — first as the US GM of Ayyeka, and now with Noria. Thankfully, she found we’ve moved on a bit since 2016. She sat down with us to talk desalination, membrane monitoring, and focus….
Tell us a little about yourself and what led you to found your company?
I’m originally from Los Angeles, born and raised. After working for several years as a civil engineer and construction manager on large commercial projects in California, I jumped on a plane to pursue my lifelong dream of living in Israel.
In Israel, known for its water technology and startup scene, I teamed up with Industrial IoT company, Ayyeka, as Director of Business Development and Marketing. I was soon tasked with establishing the company’s US subsidiary as General Manager, which, besides being a time of enormous professional growth (and racking up a lot of miles) — led me to forge great relationships with customers in California and to be introduced to Imagine H2O as a 2016 cohort company.
Last year, deciding it was time for a new challenge, I joined up with my Noria Water Technologies cofounders Andi Rahardianto and Bilal Khan, which brought me back to Los Angeles and my second stint as an Imagine H2O cohort company founder in 2019.
At what point did you decide to turn your idea/solution into a business?
I talked to a lot of engineers and operators to see assess the market potential for Noria’s membrane monitoring and operator-decision support technology, which had already been developed and validated from a technical risk standpoint. I had gotten a lot of enthusiastic feedback — but the real defining moment for me was when I was doing a software demonstration to a group of operators at a municipal reverse osmosis plant. All six of them got out of their chairs to gather around my laptop because they couldn’t believe that they were seeing membrane fouling and scaling happening in-situ in their plant in real-time.
What are your priorities for 2019?
I’m in the process of doing a round of fundraising. So that’s my priority — morning, noon, and night, until the end of Q2 2019. The second half of 2019 we’re going to be hiring more team members and putting in a few more MeMo membrane monitoring systems. Time flies when you’re building a company, so I’m already thinking about and planning for 2020.
What is most misunderstood about your market?
I would say that the most misunderstood thing is that desalination is not just for seawater. Desalination is the process of desalting any kind of source water and is primarily done using membrane-based processes like reverse osmosis and nanofiltration. Desalination is used in most industries — ranging from wastewater reuse, brackish groundwater treatment, power plant boilers, agricultural drainage water, and industrial processes like semiconductors, the food and beverage industry, and mining — to name a few.
What happened the day/weeks/months after you got into the 2019 Imagine H2O Accelerator?
The key word here is “accelerator.” All of the thinking, strategy, preparation, and output of the Imagine H2O program, and the support from the Imagine H2O team, has been pushing me to accelerate all areas of the business, and my personal growth as a founder. From pitching at Demo Day, customer and investor webinars, informational training sessions, presenting business plans and financial models, attending conferences, etc. — it’s been an incredible experience so far, and we’re only just over half-way done.
Sum up your IH2O experience so far in 3 words.
Supportive. Networking. Grateful.
You can contact Sivan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow this link to view her pitch at our online Customer Showcase in May 2019.