In this series, Foresight introduces some of the talented, smart people who coach ventures in our acceleration programs. One of our favourite Executives in Residence, Kirk Hamilton, is enthusiastic about working at the intersection of entrepreneurship and environment.

  • How long have you been an EIR with Foresight?

Since November 2015 (think I am the only EIR left from that ‘era’ other than our esteemed Board member Beth Loughney.)

  • What do you like most about your work as an EIR?

Watching the entrepreneurs ‘get it’ and grow… grow professionally as a CEO and grow their business.  It allows me to relive the entrepreneurial experience somewhat by sharing their journeys of discovery, success, and value creation for customers and the company.  Since I am not running a business, I have the opportunity to read and review tools/techniques I wish I had earlier in my career.  Using my experience to illuminate how to apply these techniques seems to help the entrepreneur and their company accelerate their progress.

  • Share a success story.

It has been wonderful to watch the development of 2S Water.  When I started working with them, Anthea had a lab technology that could detect metals in ‘real time’.  Why was real time important?  Who had the need? What was going to change as a result of the product deployment? These were all questions I had for Anthea.  I believe she thought the big market opportunity was in municipal waste/water systems.  I encouraged her to explore all the different markets – municipal, oil & gas SAG-D, mining, pulp & paper etc, that she believed had a need for real time metals detection and why.  I encouraged her to look for the emotion in the response!  Anthea quickly realized mining had a critical need for detection in their operation for both effluent analysis and process optimization.  She has her first orders for an MVP product (to be deployed this month) with interest from most of the major mining companies around the world. Anthea also understands that success depends on building a company, not just a product.  I strongly believe the initial product will be successful and Anthea will build a company that will be tuned into listening to the needs of its customers in various market segments so that it provides highly valued solutions for them.

Avestec is an example of a firm truly changing how the world will work in the future. The problem they are solving is the need to risk human lives performing infrastructure asset inspection in elevated and enclosed spaces.  Founders Reza and Pouya have firsthand experience of doing ultrasonic inspections while suspended many metres in the air in dangerous conditions. Their tethered robot drone provides the service without risking human lives. Humans stay on the ground. They are in the process of demonstrating a change in the standard for asset inspection with major energy companies and shipping companies. To prove the concept of robot versus human inspection and prove out the operational needs of their robot drone, they have entered the market offering their product as a service delivered by Avestec.  Their service increases safety, and reduces time and cost of inspections.  Now deep into paid operational pilots with their product, they are gaining the confidence of the market to rewrite the standard operating procedure for asset inspection.  Avestec has successfully gained the attention of asset owners, all the energy majors, who really feel the pain of an accidental death or injury on site. They are creating pull through demand for their service and product despite the resistance of the inspection service companies.

  • What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

Love the problem you are solving and the customers who are in greatest anguish about it.  Remember necessity/need is the mother of invention; the problem or need comes first not the invention.  The greater the need to solve the problem, the greater the value of your solution. 

  • What excites you most about working in cleantech?

 I am a great lover of nature and believe in proper stewardship of our environment so that it is left in better condition for our descendants.  Clean technologies allow us to use profit for good.

“Working with Kirk has been pivotal to our success. Kirk is always driving me to do better, to consider the long-term alternatives, and to educate and improve as a leader and as an entrepreneur.” – Anthea Sargeaunt. CEO, 2S Water 

Written By:

Karen Speirs

Karen Speirs is a communications specialist with experience in journalism, public relations, and corporate communications. Her passion is storytelling; Karen has authored several books and has provided writing services for a broad range of private and public sector organizations. Her most recent role was leading external communications for Best Buy Canada. The BC tech industry figures prominently in Karen’s work experience, including Communications roles with Innovate BC and the Digital Technology Supercluster.

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