Cyber-Rain is a sprinkler controller with a brain – it uses your PC to check the weather and automatically adjusts watering times. Cyber-Rain saves up to 40% on water bills, qualifies for conservation rebates, is good for the environment, is easy to use and typically pays for itself within a year.
Cyber-Rain serves both the residential and light commercial markets segments of the ~$1.5 billion controller market. It has secured substantial wholesale distribution. It is significantly differentiated from competitors through its ease of use, affordability, lack of monthly fees, robust features and two-way communication.
Cyber-Rain is becoming much more than a smart controller. We believe strongly in providing actionable information to facilitate better decisions -- "You can't manage what you can't measure." Cyber-Rain’s unique 2-way architecture and ZigBee based communication gives it the potential to bring ‘smart grid’ capabilities to water. Controllers can be easily localized and automatically updated with local rates, restrictions and water allocations to deliver actionable information to consumers. For example, Cyber-Rain will be able to tell users how much it is costing them to water their front lawn. Cyber-Rain also centrally tracks landscape water usage and savings that can be used by water authorities to enforce conservation programs and measure their effectiveness.
Diana Schulz joined Cyber-Rain in September 2008 and has overseen the launch of the commercial product line, expansion into the wholesale market and the doubling of sales. While at Cyber-Rain, she has been recognized as one of America’s Most Promising Socially Conscious Entrepreneurs by Business Week and a leading CleanTech CEO by Women Entrepreneur. She was previously CEO of the venture-backed Joann.com e-commerce site, where she grew revenues 40% and negotiated a successful exit. Prior experience includes heading Corporate Development and Strategic Planning at Universal Studios and consulting at McKinsey & Company. She received her MBA from Stanford University.
Reza formed Cyber-Rain in August 2005 after serving as lead engineer at a number of the world's largest and most successful corporations. Prior to founding Cyber-Rain, Reza served as senior architect consultant at Edmunds.com, the largest e-commerce site for cars, where he designed and implemented the company's first B2B system that collects and analyzes daily transactions from auto dealers and provides this information to business partners via the Web. He served in the same role at Experian Consumer Direct, the largest provider of credit monitoring and reporting services, where he executed a number of engineering projects including the design and implementation of a system that allows consumers to check their credit report and scores. Prior to his role as a consultant, Reza served as Chief Architect for XP Systems, the nation's leading provider of turnkey software for credit unions and other financial institutions and VP of Engineering for Shopzilla.com, a global comparison shopping and merchant rating system, among other key technology positions for leading 5 companies. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with Honors from the City University of London.
Christine helped launch GOOD Magazine – a culture and lifestyle magazine based in Los Angeles. While there, she headed up Newsstand distribution which grew 100% in one year under her direction. As a launch staff member, her responsibilities also extended to cover aspects of operations, production and beyond – taking GOOD from a start up magazine operated out of a house to a highly regarded, widely read publication and lifestyle brand. Before GOOD, Christine worked with the California Water Resources Board in community outreach where she gained a passion and understanding for water conservation. Christine received her B.A. in International Development from UCLA.
Eric brings to Cyber Rain over twenty years of senior sales and marketing management experience in consumer electronics and technology products. Eric served most recently as vice president of sales and marketing with Lenmar Enterprises a manufacturer of portable power solutions, rechargeable batteries and various energy conserving accessory products.
Prior to Lenmar, Eric served as vice president of sales and client services with Creative Channel Services. CCS is an Industry leading provider of integrated sales training and marketing solutions to the retail channel. Eric’s responsibilities included creation of the company’s strategic sales plan and overseeing the execution of the sales and client services plan on a daily basis. The company’s retail client base included; CompUSA, Fry’s Electronics, Staples, the Consumer Electronic Association, Best Buy, etc.
The irrigation controller market is estimated to be $1.3 billion, growing to $1.9 billion by 2015. Smart controllers are currently only a small portion of this, but are expected to be over $1 billion by 2015.
Cyber-Rain obtained SWAT approval in early 2008, which established it as a smart controller and meant it was eligible for most rebates. To prove the product worked, we first targeted the residential market through direct channels such as Amazon.com and home automation retailers such as SmartHome. We now have over 1000 installations and are SmartHome's most successful product launch ever.
In 2009, we laid the groundwork to significantly expand our reach. On the product side, we developed our professional line, which includes the ability to read flow meters and automatic alerts for abnormal current, temperature and flow. We also developed our light commercial line with a more rugged enclosure and long-range radios. With the combination of these two, we are now able to serve a wide range of customers including residential, parks, schools, malls and home owners associations. The light commerical line has been incredibly successful and now accounts for 50% of our business.
We also significantly expanded our distribution in 2009 to incorporate the wholesale market. We are now distributed by Ewing, who is the second largest wholesale distributor in the nation with 194 stores in 22 states. We are also distributed by other regional distributors including Hydroscape, Imperial and Costal Pipco. The wholesale distribution ties in nicely with our light commercial product line and is key to reaching many of the landscape contractors that service these accounts. This segment will get us to operational breakeven.
We are also making small forays into the retail segment through Ace, Sears and Armstrong Garden Centers. The emphasis is currently to learn how to sell through this channel in anticipation of the market switch to smart controllers. For example, California already has a law on its books (AB 1881) requiring that all controllers sold in the state must be smart controllers by 1/1/2012.
Our longer-term interest is to work directly with municipalities to service their customers and take full advantage of our landscape information/localization features. As mentioned above, municipalities can use Cyber-Rain to obtain information benefits that are more actionable than smart meters while also delivering immediate landscape conservation. If municipalities aggregate users onto Cyber-Rain, they will be able to easily monitor and implement water conservation programs. They will be able to track actual landscape water usage and savings by household and plant type. They will be able to automatically incorporate water restrictions and enforce them through reporting/emails to violators. And customers will receive the benefits of a device that conserves water, is easy to use and gives them actionable information on their water usage. Most municipalities report that their #1 question from consumers is how to read their water bill -- Cyber-Rain tells people that they spent $50 watering their lawn and $5 watering their native garden. With better information, consumers will make better decisions.
Cyber-Rain would also like to work with water municipalities to make these conservation and information benefits easily available to everyone. We believe Cyber-Rain should be installed in homes and paid for much like cable boxes. This way consumers get the benefit of the most up-to-date conservation and information technology, while being able to pay a small amount monthly through their water bills instead of a large upfront cost. Municipalities would get the benefits of centralized information and management, so that they can implement and track conservation programs efficiently and effectively.
Cyber-Rain is starting to make this vision a reality. We have secured a water agency to pilot our 'smart grid' capabilities and are in advanced discussions with a couple others. We are applying here in hopes of attracting additional pilots.