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Father-daughter 'water-preneurs' hunt venture capital

Published:Sunday | February 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Father-and-daughter team, Richard Spence and Leanne Spence, of Instant Save.

Father-and-daughter duo Richard Spence and Leanne Spence are targeting 30 large hotels, other commercial operations, and more than 1,500 government-run schools with technology, which the entrepreneurs say can reduce water consumption and costs by at least 50 per cent.

They are partners in Instant-Save Conservation Solutions Limited.

Richard said research suggests that upwards of 90 per cent of overall water consumption in commercial centres and institutions is attributable to their restrooms, and that he and Leanne have discovered a reliable solution that saves water, reduces cross contamination and eliminates unnecessary waste.

Stating that he has acquired exclusive distributorship for the aerator in Jamaica - whose brand name he keeps close to his chest - Spence said the equipment is usable in for hand-washing in facilities such as hospitals and restaurants.

The discovery came from a search for solutions to his own problems. High water bills in early 2012 caused him to research water-saving tools and equipment for his entertainment establishment, The Deck, on Trafalgar Road in Kingston.

The solutions found included a water-saving aerator for faucets and a high-efficiency toilet.

He retrofitted bathrooms at The Deck, and after seven months, he said, savings on his water bill paid for his initial investment of $100,000.

The money was spent on four toilets and five hand-washing stations.

The discovery led to creation of Instant-Save in December 2013. The Spences showed up at the JSE Capital Markets Conference to pitch their business idea to investors in January.

Leanne and Richard have been operating a virtual office from their home in Kingston. So they have put $500,000 into research and testing. Richard has made a pitch for venture capital funding of $10 million in exchange for a 51 per cent stake from a working partner.

Both he and his daughter are engaged in other ventures and require someone to run with their idea.

Spence says he will be seek financing for another $10 million for working capital. "We have two interested parties for the loan," he said.

During the test phase, the company supplied a hotel in Montego Bay with aerators, and are now ready to take on a more ambitious distribution schedule.

"We are now ready for start-up," Spence said last Wednesday. "The installation of aerator requires no batteries and no electricity; it replaces the existing aerator on faucets and is operated by shifting the stainless steel rod with the back of the thumb. Once the rod is released, the water flow stops," he said.

The high-efficiency toilet, branded the Quiet Vacuum Assist Toilet, uses a combination of air and water compressed to create a vacuum for a powerful flush. It uses three litres "which is half of the 1.6 gallons of water used by the next best low flush toilet on the market", said Richard.

"Whereas the average toilet flushes 350 grammes, this flushes 600 grammes - almost twice the amount."

Through Instant-Save, the duo aims, eventually, to install their water saving solution "in all restrooms throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean".

"Our potential market is over 20,000 government and non-government institutions, over 1,500 schools; we have in excess of 30,000 hotel rooms with more being built, and tens of thousands of new housing solutions each year, as well as medical facilities and restaurants," father Spence said.

In the first year of operation, its Instant-Save's target is commercial institutions and schools, "and thereafter we will make the product available for retail," he said.