Smart Sprinkler Systems, Inc.

It's time to turn the working prototype into a manufacturable MVP.

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Funding Request
I have patented technology targeting efficient outdoor residential water usage. I am raising funds to develop the prototype into a manufacturable product. My patents have been granted in the US and Canada and are pending in Europe and China. The mechanical design needs to be refined for manufacturing and to account for final component selection. The electronics design may require small modifications, but is mature. With a manufacturing design, the product becomes a software platform. There is software engineering to bring it to MVP status, but the software is OTA upgradeable, so there will be ongoing enhancements over the lifetime of the product. Getting to a shippable product is the number one priority.

Problem Statement
The majority of residential water usage (50-70%) is outdoors and approximately half of that water is wasted. Water is becoming an ever more critical resource and consumers are becoming every more concerned, accordingly. It is not simply a matter of being environmentally conscious, although that should not be ignored. Water is a commodity costing the average household $1,000/year. Using water efficiently outdoors can save consumers up to $350 every year.

Most households use a combination of garden hoses, watering cans, hand sprayers, and lawn sprinklers. This is centuries old technology that provides no opportunity for efficient water usage. Lawn sprinklers, in particular, are absurdly difficult to use and provide no features that allow consumers to water properly. Consumers must upgrade to expensive installed irrigation systems to achieve any level of automation that would allow for efficient water application. But even those systems only provide control over turning watering zones on and off.

The WaterSketcher Solution
The product is a high tech device attached to a garden hose intended to address all outdoor water usage. It sprays water from a rotating nozzle, similar to many traditional lawn sprinklers and irrigation sprinkler heads, except that the nozzle is controlled electronically using embedded software. It is configured using a mobile app via a standard wireless Bluetooth connection, but also operates autonomously once configured.

It is small enough to be handheld to be used for manually spraying water, but also sits on an installed base and becomes a fully automated irrigation system. The device is called the WaterSketcher because the user literally "sketches" the boundaries of hydro zones using the mobile app as a wireless remote control. Once defined, the WaterSketcher algorithmically and accurately fills in the boundaries with the correct amount of water at the ideal time of day for the most efficient water usage possible.

It is important to understand that spraying water under software control in this manner is unprecedented. One needs to spend ten times the cost of a WaterSketcher for an in ground irrigation system to begin to achieve a similar level of water efficiency, but without the flexibility of a system that supports an unlimited number of zones with no additional plumbing. And an irrigation system still doesn't take care of all outdoor water usage. Users still  need a garden hose for other tasks. The WaterSketcher becomes a manual sprayer simply by picking it up.

Value Proposition
Compared to the cost of the separate water application devices a consumer typically purchases (garden hoses, hand sprayers, water timers, watering cans, garden hose splitters, etc.), the WaterSketcher is at the higher end of the normal range of outlays, but satisfies all of these functions with one garden hose, but with the full automation capability of an installed irrigation system. Moreover, it saves the consumer money though water efficiency. In essence, the WaterSketchers easily pays for itself in a year or two.

Compared to the cost of installed irrigation systems, the capital cost of a WaterSketcher is about one tenth. Over time, that cost will drop even further, as manufacturing volumes increase. Moreover, it is infinitely more flexible for the consumer, as creating a zone is simply a new sketch using a mobile app.

While these comparisons demonstrate the its superiority over existing technology, the WaterSketcher has been designed to fully leverage its technology. It is truly a platform, serving as a foundation for a wide range of add on products. Using the wireless Bluetooth interface, it can communicate with other peripheral devices with a simple over the air software upgrade. The nozzle incorporates a mount for additional sensors, which will give the WaterSketcher various kinds of "vision". A base station upgrade will allow it to connect with home automation systems for full 24/7 remote access. There is an inherent SaaS business model for recurring revenue. There is even an opportunity for injecting yard treatments into the water stream under software control to support a consumable revenue stream. All of these additional capabilities will be made available over time and sold directly through a store built into the app. While the WaterSketcher competes directly with available technology, it also opens the door to brand new capabilities that will become apparent into the foreseeable future. It will create value that simply isn’t possible with the technology of today.

My name is John Heaney and I am the inventor of the WaterSketcher. The start of my career in 1980 began in electronics, but soon migrated to software with the advent of personal and portable computers. I developed numerous software technologies for handheld computing used by the military. That was followed by gaming and education software development early in the multimedia revolution and then business related database development. My last salaried employment was a return to my electronics roots, developing embedded firmware for custom electronic devices. That period saw the introduction of the iPhone and I developed iPhone and iPad applications for both in-house enterprise and Apple Store distribution. Several application utilized standard Bluetooth wireless communications to interact with electronic devices. I also was the primary software architect for a handheld wireless controller for a patch pump insulin delivery system for a client company named Insulet, who became a publicly traded $20B company on the strength of that single product.

I also am a hobbyist woodworker and typically use 3D modeling software to produce my designs. In short, my career includes all of the necessary skills that led me to developing this product, including 3D design experience, electrical engineering, embedded firmware development, iPhone mobile app development, and experience with standard Bluetooth and other wireless communications.

Although I am solely responsible for the invention of the WaterSketcher, I have contracted with various talent to perform the necessary development outside my bailiwick. I hired an experienced and talented electronics expert to create the schematic and layout of the internal controller. I hired a firm to produce the CAD files used to generate the various prototypes leading to the current functional prototype. Another firm performed the industrial design and the CAD used to fabricate the enclosure. Finally, I hired a firm to develop the initial version of the user facing iPhone app.

Next Steps
I have worked on this product for five years and have spent approximately $400K of my own funds, but the next step will require more capital than I can provide to initiate a focused sprint to a product that can be delivered into the market. I need funds to bring human resources on board.

The WaterSketcher is a radical new approach to using water outdoors. It is a general purpose watering tool controlled by software that will save consumers time and money and empower people to utilize water efficiently, saving this precious resource and money at the same time. Moreover, it will create opportunities that have not been possible before.

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