Inside the mind of an entrepreneur is a busy place, and inside the mind of Membrion’s founder and CEO, Greg Newbloom, is no different. It is no surprise he is regularly asked to speak at conferences and for conversations on podcasts. He chats about our startup journey, how Membrion navigated COVID challenges, and how we are impacting water across industries through electro-ceramic desalination processes. Read below for a recap of some of the conversations and the links to listen.
On The Water Entrepreneur podcast, they feature interviews exploring the origin stories of startup founders, early adopters, and innovation champions related to their personal, professional, technical, organizational, and financial journeys. Greg sat down with Paul Gagliardo and among the many topics, Greg shared his interesting story of the origin of his company, out of University of Washington, and the tech entrepreneurs there. He shares about building momentum, focusing on customer needs, and product development. Here is part of the story: Membrion’s Series A funding round closed on March 1, 2020, which was lucky timing prior to when the COVID pandemic forced lockdowns, fiscal restraint, and supply chain issues. This world pandemic drove a change to Membrion’s strategy. We were able to slow their pace and nail down specifics in their business model. Membrion had also just expanded with a new lease and our team could safely spread out. The timing of these steps paved the way for survival, for focus on the client needs, and for growth. Listen to Greg’s interview in Episode 26 of The Water Entrepreneur.
One of the benefits of using Membrion’s electro-ceramic desalination technologies is preventing the waste of water. In the Don’t Waste Water Podcast by Antoine Walker, Greg delved into how the circularity of water can be a part of every industrial process. “After all,” Greg said, “loading water onto a truck and driving it somewhere is the antithesis of sustainability. It is always a mystery why companies would truck wastewater when they do not need to do it.” When industries have a compound that cannot be handled onsite, and there is a reason it cannot be discharged or removed, Membrion helps. Membrion can remove salts minerals and metals and can do it under complex environments. As Greg said, this does not eliminate trucking, wastewater altogether, because the processes still produce some brines, but it is less trucking.
On Don’t Waste Water, Greg explained how Membrion is an efficiency enhancer. We make ceramic desalination membranes, which are sturdy and resist fouling. All others are made from polymetric materials which are delicate, and their applications are limited because durability is limited. Ceramic membranes can tolerate what other membranes cannot. With Membrion, limited pretreatment is required and that translates to significant cost savings. This includes semiconductor copper wastewater where recovering copper is more efficient when it is more concentrated. The only industry that loses is the wastewater trucking industry because there is less trucking of water.
Seeing much success in microelectronics, Membrion expanded to a broad spectrum of applications, including food and beverage, auto, cooling towers, and mining companies. Our goal is to understand the value proposition for each company. Since Membrion sells a module in an overall water system, we work with the most respected integrators in the world. These are integrators companies know and trust, and they integrate Membrion technology.
Greg said, “Give us your trickiest streams, usually something they are trucking offsite, thermally desalinating, using a resin and usually a single resin process. They usually say, ‘This process is costing millions of dollars a year in OPEX.’” Membrion targets efficiency in these areas. The payback is usually less than 24 months, sometimes 18 months. In contrast, we’ve encountered streams where the next nearest competitor has a 54-month payback period. If it does not work, you can still do what you are doing today. Listen to how companies are using Membrion to recycle water.
Membrion is a cohort alum at one of the leading global water incubators, Imagine H2O, and he joined Scott Bryan, president of Imagine H2O on Talk + Water podcast. Talk + Water takes a deep dive into the world of water with those they say are “making the waves.” Todd Votteler, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Water Journal and Texas + Water, interviewed Greg and Scott, talking in part about Membrion’s startup journey and Membrion’s role in the global economy. Listen to how Membrion is making a unique contribution to global water.
Membrion was a past finalist for the SEMI Startups for Sustainability competition. Firmly rooted in semiconductor water programs, Membrion serves this industry in meeting water goals. Find more information about this and Greg’s appearance on their podcast.
As we all ramp up for the AWWA’s Water 2050 initiative, caring for the needs of industry and the people of our communities is of vital importance. Membrion is taking this to a new level, one conversation, and one membrane at a time.