Atlanta, Georgia-based water data company, Aquagenuity, is one of the newest companies featured in the 2021 Atlanta Metro Export Challenge (Atlanta MEC) cohort alongside 11 other companies.
The Atlanta MEC provides small and medium-sized metro Atlanta businesses with funding and tailored mentorship to help develop international business prospects.
Aquagenuity’s mission is to build a future where everyone has access to real-time water quality data to protect their health, especially amidst a water crisis where 7 out of 10 Americans are being impacted by some form of water contamination.
“Aquagenuity is where water meets ingenuity. We are on a water search for water quality,” Doll Avant, founder and CEO of Aquagenuity said. “We heard about Flint, Michigan and their water being contaminated with lead. There are currently 106 million Americans being affected by lead-affected water. Contaminants are building up in our systems, we don’t notice it instantly but over time they can cause a lot of health problems. We provide a platform for people to monitor their local water quality.”
Avant is an inventor, data scientist, graduate of Harvard University, and a TEDx speaker. Her deep knowledge and passion for water equality across the globe has gotten her recognized by Forbes, The New York Times, Reuters, TechCrunch, and WIRED Magazine as the first app to help consumers easily answer the question “What’s In Your Water?” in real-time from smart devices and platforms they already use every day.
“We’re a data company,” Avant said. “We take aggregated data for most public water systems serving 1,000 people or more. We pull data from public utilities as well as any studies done by local universities.”
The health-related water crisis occurring is a global issue and calls for attention in preserving the clean water supply on Earth. According to the United Nations, by 2030 there will be a 40% greater demand for clean water than there is supply on this planet for the first time in human history.
Aquagenuity has developed a user-friendly algorithm that takes the guesswork out of knowing your water quality and allows you to do so in real-time. It is a proprietary algorithm that transforms raw water quality data from disparate sources into a score, from 0-100, which makes it as easy to check hyperlocal water quality as it is to check the weather.
“The algorithm we use is called ‘aquascore,’ it takes analytics and puts it out to consumers that is simple to understand. This data and info should not be for just for people with a science degree when the average person doesn’t know what’s in their water,” Avant said.
Countless small businesses across the world took hard financial hits due to COVID-19, many even going out of business permanently without the proper resources and support needed for survival.
The 2020 MEC businesses innovated new ways to apply program resources when the COVID-19 pandemic halted international travel. Companies employed MEC grants to update their websites toward increasing accessibility and discoverability by international customers, ensure alignment with European data privacy regulations, add certifications and conduct virtual product presentations to international prospects.
“The pandemic really kind of shut us mostly down. [In] March of 2020 we were scheduled to do our global announcement. The connections we made in other countries weren’t able to do that,” Avant said “What we did was scale all the way back and focused on the technology. We hired new team members and doubled down. As we open back up, we are more prepared for a global audience.”
An independent selection committee identified the 12 grant recipients from a highly competitive pool of applicants. Recipient companies represent a wide range of industries, including finance and insurance; information technology; manufacturing; professional, scientific, and technical services; retail trade; and wholesale trade.
Recipient company ownership reflects the vibrant, diverse population of metro Atlanta. Three companies identify as minority-owned, three as women-owned and one as veteran-owned.
The MEC has awarded over $640,000 to more than 100 metro Atlanta businesses spanning their five-year history. One aspect that makes this accomplishment that much sweeter for Avant and Aquagenuity is her lifelong ties to the city of Atlanta.
“I was born and raised in Atlanta so any time I have the chance to get to represent the city I get so excited,” Avant said. “Atlanta is really a great city to drive innovation. It is uniquely blended and offers the same access to global talent, capital and much more of a community feel with people to help you. Atlanta is the best place to build companies that are changing the world.
“This opportunity has come at such a great time for us. This year going into next year we’re expanding our database globally to anyone, anywhere, and it is all brand new,” she continued. “We went to Barcelona before the pandemic and just by speaking as a keynote speaker for five or ten mins had people from all over the world wanting to work with Aquagenuity. The resources from this cohort can implant our mission into countries around the world.”
For the 2021 Atlanta MEC, the Metro Atlanta Chamber assembled the largest group of sponsors and partners in program history — across local, state and federal levels — to support the initiative. Program partners include the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, Decide DeKalb, Delta Air Lines, Georgia District Export Council, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Partnership Gwinnett Select Fulton, Select Cobb and the US Commercial Service.
“Every time people see what we’re doing, they want to get involved,” Avant said. “We have the same water since the planet was created and we can’t solve this water crisis without individuals monitoring their own water.
“We have our Guardians of H20 program where we guide everyday citizens to help raise the status of water quality for all,” she continued. “People can earn badges and other incentives to encourage them to make it more a part of their lifestyle and change the world. With a platform like this, kids are using our test kits in the classrooms and are becoming innovators of the future, leading more kids to think about climate.”
Each company within the cohort receives a reimbursement grant of $5,000 to be spent on activities aimed at fostering international sales growth, specialized trade consulting and travel vouchers provided by Delta Air Lines.
“We’re going to take the funding from the MEC and create a full demo at the next Smart City World Congress,” Avant said. “In addition to me speaking I’ll be able to have a live demo where I will take a sample of water and put it into a filter, the technology is unique because of its scales.”