Tech Startup KETOS Targets Water Safety And Scarcity
Growing up in a family of modest means in India, water safety was a matter of urgency for Meena Sankaran. With that in mind, after working for many years as an engineer, in 2015 she founded KETOS, a San Francisco-based startup with an AI-based platform aimed at making water safer and more sustainable through an automated testing and monitoring process. She started deploying the service commercially over the last four years.
Meena Sankaran at Unreasonable CHANGE 2022 in Cheltenham, U.K. CHET STRANGE
“Water safety impacts how much water we can access,” she says. “How much water you use and the quality of that water are closely intertwined.”
We talked to Sankaran about her company, her goals, and what inspired her to start her company.
Tell us why you started your company?
Water is such a precious resource, but it’s taken for granted. People don’t really think about what happens when they flush the toilet or when water comes out of the tap. And even in this day and age, we’ve not adopted the best of what technology can do and applied that in the water sector. This is one of the last sectors to adopt new technology solutions in terms of how to become smarter about providing safe and sustainable water.
A lot of water, if re-used, can be leveraged more efficiently. Water safety is the yin and yang if you’re looking at water efficiency, two sides to the coin when you think about water management.
It’s paramount we understand this is a resource we can’t manufacture. We need to preserve it for future generations. And part of preserving it is protecting it. To do that you need to know how to manage it. And to manage it, you need to be able to measure it. That’s fundamental. And that’s what we do. We give people the tools to measure and understand what to do and how to handle the water they have.
Who are your customers?
We’re bringing robotic material science, data science and IOT solutions to provide real-time water quality intelligence to industry, farmers, city operators in a way that potentially allows them to be compliant with regulatory agencies and discharge water that is safe for the environment. We’re shifting behavior to be proactive vs. reactive.
Industrial customers include, for example, mining companies. As there’s more demand for lithium, mining across the world is exploring how they’re using ground water, as well as what happens to the water that’s discharged. The life cycle of water, the reuse of water, that’s all important. We’re able to help them reach their sustainability goal— how much they’re using, reusing, recycling. Can we help them reduce the amount of chemicals they use, how much fertilizer they use?