In 2015, Eric Adler wanted to do something to fix California’s severe drought. Recognizing that consumers needed to truly understand their water usage rates in order to reduce them, he dedicated his senior project to making that happen.
“The state and cities were trying to get people to reduce consumption, but there was no feedback loop,” Adler explained. “The whole concept was how do we really get data to people in real-time so they can change their behaviors, protect their home, reduce how much they have to spend.”
His goal was to enable homeowners to monitor their water consumption via an easy-to-install product with real-time smartphone feedback. That way, consumers can see how much water they are using in their homes and where they need to cut down.
Adler later evolved this idea into a business plan, co-founding Flume, Inc. with the support and programming of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The Flume team initially took the water-monitoring product proposal through the CIE’s Innovation Quest competition, later joining both the HotHouse Accelerator and Incubator programs to launch their business.
“Since we left the incubator program, we’ve raised a pretty significant amount of funding, basically doubled in size every year, launched on Amazon and we work with cities all over the country,” said Adler of Flume’s growing success.
After moving out of the HotHouse in downtown San Luis Obispo, Adler’s team moved into the newer HotHouse Annex, which is the ideal coworking spot for companies with a hardware component like Flume. This location gives the company the space it needs for testing, manufacturing and inventory, plus keeps Flume connected to local companies and the CIE.
Adler notes that even as the company grows, he is thankful that the CIE is still part of Flume’s support system.
“Eventually you’re supposed to outgrow [the CIE] and be able to be self-sustainable, so I’d say we’re kind of at that point right now,” Adler explained. “But we still get mentorship and tap into some of the resources here and there. It’s great just having a network around us and support behind us.”
Not only does Flume still have connections with the CIE, but the company also sustains a relationship with San Luis Obispo through an ongoing study with the city and an insurance company that has subsidized the product for local residents. The study’s goal is to see how giving real-time data can help customers change their habits and overall reduce their water consumption.
Between this program and his love for the area, Adler sees no reason to move his company’s base from San Luis Obispo despite its nationwide growth.
“First and foremost you want to build a company in a place where you also want to live. People are excited to be here and they really want to stick around and stay with your company,” he noted. “In terms of starting a company, if you’re looking for that initial capital to kind of test things out and get them off the ground, SLO is a good place to get started with that.”
Adler emphasized that between CIE and Cal Poly alumni support, a comfortable cost of living, a great pool of talent, and a high quality of life, San Luis Obispo has served Flume well as it’s grown into what it is today.
If you’re looking to build your business with all of these SLOcal benefits, explore the CIE HotHouse Incubator program at https://cie.calpoly.edu/launch/hothouse-incubator/.
To see more about Flume, Inc. and its water-monitoring device, head to https://flumetech.com/.