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Alisha McFetridge: From Fierce Founder to Greentech Game Changer

We all have personal preferences when it comes to showering. From what time of day works best to scalding hot versus cold to whether you shave before or after. Whatever your preferences, showers are a daily part of life for many of us. 

But while we make conscious decisions on how we shower, we often forget the water and energy they require. The typical five-minute shower uses over 45 litres of water and 2.5 kilowatts of electricity. Reducing the amount of water and energy used in showering is the mission of Alisha McFetridge, CEO and co-founder of RainStick Shower

RainStick has developed an innovative shower system that can reduce water and energy usage by 80 per cent. Instead of the water flowing down the drain and out to the sewer system, RainStick captures, circulates and cleanses water as you shower. 

Water and energy savings aren’t the only advantages either. Since it’s a closed system, RainStick provides twice the water flow compared to a traditional shower.

How Fierce Founders helped

McFetridge’s founder journey has seen Rainstick go from idea to award-winning product in a short time frame. McFetridge was part of Communitech’s innovative Fierce Founders program in 2020, and her pitch for RainStick won over the judges and earned the startup $75,000 in seed funding. Fierce Founders is supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

“There were 20 founders in the program, and there was a very high calibre of companies participating,” recalls McFetridge. “It was also my first introduction to Communitech and the resources and supports provided.”

As a first-time founder, McFetridge knew she needed guidance and mentorship to build a solid foundation for her company. One critical area she wanted to understand better was funding—especially since RainStick would need capital for manufacturing.

“I didn't know very much about investment, including the basics such as building out a cap table,” she says. It was through Fierce Founders that I was able to learn about investment raises, and the stages of pre-seed, seed and Series A investment. I learned so much, and I still use those learnings today.” 

The importance of goal setting

McFetridge and her co-founder Sean McFetrdige have made goal-setting a core component of their quarterly strategy sessions. It’s an opportunity to reflect and absorb what they’ve learned over the past three months.

“As a founder, we don't often make time for reflecting because there is a lot of execution and problem-solving,” she says. “But when you sit back and think about what you have accomplished and how you accomplished it, you can see new ways to solve problems and adapt to change.” 

Racking up the wins, from Fierce Founders to CES

After winning the Fierce Founders pitch competition, RainStick used the funding to propel its R&D forward. The company worked with an engineering consultancy firm to help create its first working prototype shower system. In January 2022, they attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where they demonstrated the energy and water savings of RainStick to potential buyers and partners from across the world. 

“We ended up winning Best of Innovation in the Smart Home category!” she recalls.“It all started with Fierce Founders and the programming to help new founders succeed.” 

The win at CES was the first of many for RainStick since McFetridge graduated from the Fierce Founders program. In February 2022, the startup won the Impact and Kickstarter awards during the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, the premiere event for the U.S.-based National Kitchen + Bath Association.

Creating a new green category

RainStick is innovating in more than just a legacy category. It is helping define a new one using circular design principles. From construction to manufacturing to consumer goods, circular design is helping create durable, reusable, repairable and recyclable products that generate zero waste.

“I would say water is probably ten years behind energy,” says McFetridge “Energy has been the focus for a lot of companies, but a lot of people are now starting to look at water as a way to find efficiencies in their homes. You can save a substantial amount of water,but there's also a lot of energy in that water. Showering is one of the top energy uses of the home, so if you can cut that down, then you're working towards your net zero energy targets.”

Consumers are increasingly looking for ways to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint at home, including using heat pumps instead of gas-powered furnaces. Customer education is critical to driving the adoption of these new technologies, and McFetridge said RainStick has a unique advantage.

“With solar panels or heat pumps, you have to really educate (customers) m about the benefits,” says McFetridge. “The great thing about RainStick is that the consumer interacts with the technology by simply taking a shower. But it is still a new category, and people don’t necessarily know that recirculating showers are even an option. In order to get to the masses, it’s important for us to educate people and tell them why it's so important.”

To learn more about RainStick, visit rainstickshower.com. To learn more about how Communitech helps founders start and scale their companies, visit Communitech.ca.

"Communitech helps tech-driven companies start, grow and succeed. Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players. Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways: - Communitech is a place – the center of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool shit and great companies. - Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate. - Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to go from a small startup to a global giant."

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