Written by Jerred Ziegler.
As winter approaches, the thought of a cold shower probably gives you chills. But letting the water run while it heats up is like watching money go right down the drain. UltraFlo in Cincinnati, Ohio, offers an app-controlled plumbing system that heats water before you turn the tap on without wasting a drop.
“UltraFlo saves the average user 40 percent on their water bill,” said Jeffrey Pickle, president of UltraFlo. “The Eco-start feature on the UltraFlo app allows you to choose the water temperature, tap a button and the water will heat up within the tank. And if you have a teenager that takes too long in the shower, you can set the shower to only stay on for a predetermined amount of time.”
The UltraFlo app shows customers their total water usage as well as how much water is used at each faucet in the system. The app pairs with the UltraFlo plumbing system, which is contained in a single location like a basement or storage area, and mixes hot and cold water inside the system’s tank. A pressurized pipe within the unit sends water to any faucet in the home. And by eliminating pressurized pipes in the walls, the house is also protected from damage caused by leaky or broken pipes.
After working in the plumbing business for more than 25 years at corporations like Kohler and Broan-NuTone, Pickle re-engineered a product no longer being sold to meet today’s standards. The new concept included a one-pipe system with corresponding technology to monitor water use. After securing patents for the changes, UltraFlo began refining the idea to identify the best way to bring the new concept to market.
The company is housed in the HCDC, a business incubator and southwest Ohio partner of Ohio Third Frontier. HCDC offered Pickle the space he needed and access to a full-time business coach. Pickle says the mentoring helped him figure out how to make the UltraFlo system compliant with regulations, along with making connections to secure the funding needed to advance the product. He also collaborated with other startups at the HCDC to develop his company’s accounting practices and business structure.
“I was used to working for corporations in an office with a team of people, and all of a sudden I was out there on my own as an entrepreneur,” said Pickle. “At HCDC, all I had to do was ask the questions, and someone was always there to help guide me.”
UltraFlo’s commercial system is already on the market, and Pickle expects to roll out the in-home system by spring of 2017. He says growing his business in Ohio has allowed him to get products to market faster because of the resources to help develop the business along with organizations that have adopted and validated the system.
“Ohio embraces innovation. If you have an idea that will solve a problem, there are resources to help you make it a reality,” said Pickle. “We are approved and ready to begin selling our system to homeowners across the United States and Canada. I truly believe people will embrace the next generation of plumbing, one that’s both economical and eco-friendly.”