During his time at the Middlebury Institute, Ravi Kurani MBA ´11 was among the first students to pioneer the award-winning Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program. On his FMS field assignment Kurani worked with program partner Village Capital in India in the spring of 2011—an experience that planted the seed of the idea that would become his startup venture Sutro. This week, Forbes magazine recognized Kurani’s work with Sutro by naming him one of its “30 Under 30,” a “game-changer” in the field of energy.
Many of the projects and deals Kurani evaluated on his FMS assignment in India were connected to various types of water filters or water cleaning systems. “I realized that what was missing was a way for people to understand water quality,” says Kurani of the moment of inspiration that would lead to Sutro.
Sutro’s key innovation to date is a wireless floating water chemistry and temperature monitor. The first product, a monitor specifically designed for back yard pools and spas, is expected to reach the market in four to six months. The device will measure pool chemistry and deliver chemicals when needed, simplifying the management of pools by eliminating some of the guesswork and complicated math for consumers and helping prevent unnecessary waste of water. Today the vast majority of pool and spa owners manage the water health on their own. The process can be very complicated and some owners end up dumping the water when they have problems getting it right.
As CEO of Sutro, Kurani has taken the lead on business development, supported by his good friend and co-founder Andrew Redfern, who brings his vast technical expertise to the role of CTO. One of the reasons Sutro started with a device for pools is that Kurani is familiar with the issues involved, having basically grown up in the pool and spa industry since his father owned a number of pool and spa stores.
The idea is for the initial product to be repurposed into new products that would measure chemicals in drinking water and in rivers and streams. Kurani says that adaptability is one of the key features of their product, along with the proprietary sensor architecture that can support up to 70 different types of water testing.
Of the recognition from Forbes, 29-year old MBA graduate Kurani says simply “I am super honored,” with a big smile.