In April of 2019, the entrepreneurial community heard a handful of incredible pitches from the RIOT Accelerator Program Participants. One pitch, however, stood out from others and took home the gold… or should we say, green?
Green Stream Technologies won the second annual RIoT Pitch night with their innovative technology that addresses an all too familiar pain point for North Carolina: flooding. Green Stream Technologies is a startup that offers real-time flood monitoring for better decision-making and risk management.
Founding partner Karen Lindquist explains that Green Stream was more than an idea for a company, it was a means to solve a serious problem that she had experience first-hand, “We lived in Norfolk, Virginia where it floods frequently. Every time we’d have a big rain there would be people trying to drive through flooded intersections or underpasses, stalling, and losing their cars. We noticed the losses impacted low-income people the most. Jim Gray was working on IoT projects and the city asked him for ideas of how the technology could help with the flooding problem. Jim came up with the idea of real-time sensors over city streets that would send alerts when the streets are flooded and tell motorists how deep it is. While we were building the proof of concept, we got so much positive feedback from everyone. We researched the flooding problem, and decided that this project should be a company. We formed Green Stream Technologies in 2017.”
Since their inception in 2017, they have only grown from there and had a few major wins, especially over the past year, “The first big win was being accepted onto the RIoT Accelerator Program in January. We wanted to move the business to a tech/entrepreneurial center and we had the Triangle in mind. RIoT was the catalyst that brought us down here. The program was educational and pushed us to take a hard look beyond the product at our business. The RIoT team introduced us to customers and partners and helped us integrate into the community. We love being part of the HQ community as well,” says Karen, “We just learned a couple of weeks ago we’ve been selected for an NC IDEA SEED grant – so we are looking forward to investing that money in scaling the business, and learning along the way with the great mentors at NC IDEA.”
Right now Green Stream is focusing in on working with their main customers and improving their product, “Our customers are mostly municipalities for now. We have a couple in Virginia. North Carolina Emergency Management is a great customer. They have deployed our sensors in Eastern NC and along the outer banks. We’re also working with Wilson, Cary, Holly Springs, Morrisville, and we’re just getting started with Raleigh and Wake County. One of the really smart things our NC customers are doing is to share the flood data among themselves and with the state. That increases everyone’s situational awareness and ability to coordinate response during flood events. My partner Jim Gray is writing the data architecture so everyone’s systems can talk to each other. RIoT is driving the project. If we come up with a good regional solution, maybe other regions can adopt it.”
Green Stream already has over 80 devices deployed with plans for more over the next year from Washington DC, down to Charleston SC. And their success is can be undoubtedly attributed to their passion to have an impact through their work. “… what really drives us emotionally is the idea of running a company that is doing good for people and for the environment. The same technology we use for public safety can also be used in water conservation and restoration, explains Karen, “We want to be a positive force in the community where we live and work – providing interesting and purposeful jobs people can feel good about, being good managers and leaders, having great partner relationships – and maybe able to give something back to a community that has welcomed us and is helping us get our start.”
Karen encourages other companies that they must focus on business and revenue models but it’s not just about that: “you can be SMART and SUCCESSFUL and do good business while still being FRIENDLY, INFORMAL, INCLUSIVE and FUN.The RIoT folks set a great example” And she adds that the HQ and RIOT communities have played a role in their journey. “We’re inspired by HQ and the wonderful people who work in it. The space communicates the culture – warm, natural, light, busy, healthy, environmental and fun.”