A women-led startup from Sydney, VAPAR has raised $5 million in a Series A funding round to accelerate its push into North American markets.
The AI-based sewerage system maintenance business was backed by Dutch water technology specialist VC PureTerra Ventures, supported by US engineering and construction software giant Autodesk.
“As a women-led start-up, we understand the unique hurdles women face in leadership and funding, and we’re thrilled for VAPAR to be part of the positive change,” the company tells Women’s Agenda.
“We hope that we can inspire other women and the start-up support network to continue backing women and providing a diversified space for all entrepreneurs to drive change.”
Co-founded in 2018 by two engineers, Amanda Siqueira and Michelle Aguilar, the innovative startup was inspired by Siquiera’s experience as an engineering intern. She would manually review sewer inspection videos for 8-hours a day, an error-prone and subjective process that ignited the idea for a streamlined, tech-driven, AI-based solution.
“VAPAR’s technology unlocks the necessary efficiencies in pipeline investment decision-making,” Siqueira said.
“Billions are spent every year by global water utilities on fixing their pipes, over half of which is spent in North America. Despite the massive investment, there isn’t enough data and dollars available – utilities must commit to doing things differently.”
“Artificial intelligence can unlock unprecedented efficiencies. Our vision is to create a world where critical infrastructure investment meets the needs of our communities.”
Over 3 billion feet of sewer pipes are inspected globally each year, according to VAPAR, with sewer overflows and flooding becoming more common as a result of aging pipes, climate change and growing populations.
VAPAR currently serves water authorities in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, with a multi-regional team of 17 members.
With this new $5 million investment, the company plans to build on its established customer base in these regions as well as fuel further expansion across North America to transform aging infrastructure.
“The face of AI is changing rapidly, and we’re proud to be pioneering this deep learning technology in such an impactful way for the water industry,” said Aguilar.
“With our increasing customer base, we now support a wide range of industry standards, time zones and languages. Investing funds to double our team, add new verticals and start our North American office will ramp the number of customers that can benefit from this technology.”
For the past four years, VAPAR’s revenue and product usage has doubled annually.
Alex Crowell, Partner at PureTerra Ventures, praised the startup’s performance, calling it a “standout in the evolving water management technology space”.
“Showcasing their strong customer advocacy, a quick-to-adopt product and an impact-driven team made our decision an easy one,” he said, referring to their backing of the company.
“This investment will not only expand VAPAR’s customer reach but also substantially reduce pipe failures, which reflects our shared commitment to sustainable water infrastructure development globally.”