While Sarah Rich and I were driving through the south's startup landscape, we heard about plenty of new companies that we didn't get a chance to meet. Perhaps the most intriguing was Atlanta's Soneter, a member of Georgia Tech's Venture Lab. Here's the pitch.
24 million apartments don't have an individual water meter. Instead, the water bill is tallied by the entire building. That means that it is difficult to encourage efficiency through a price signal because people aren't paying for the water they actually use. In the past, if you wanted to install individual meters for every unit, you'd have to cut into the water pipes and stick those meters inside. That's expensive and time-consuming. The Soneter meter, by contrast, clamps on *outside* the pipe, meaning it's easier and cheaper to install.
The way they like to put it, Soneter is "extending the smart grid to water networks." The hardware works with in concert with management software that can provide real-time feedback to residents about how much water they're using.
This is a cool, sensor-based business that seems to have a clear, addressable market.