RainStick, a water and energy conservation startup that won Communitech’s 2020 Fierce Founders Pitch Competition, has raised more than CDN$1 million in seed funding, the company says.

The money will help the company take its RainStick high-flow shower system to market, with pre-sales starting this fall and product availability in early 2022, said CEO Alisha McFetridge, who co-founded RainStick with her husband Sean McFetridge in 2019.

The company is registered in Kelowna, B.C., where the McFetridges are from, but currently operates from Waterloo Region to be closer to the area’s renowned tech ecosystem.

RainStick’s seed funding was led by Red Thread Ventures of Vancouver, with some angel investment and grant money from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada Seed Fund.

RainStick received $75,000 by winning Communitech’s Fierce Founders Pitch Competition. The startup is a current participant of the Fierce Founders Intensive Track program, which provides advice and connections to professional resources.

McFetridge said the pitch competition prize money, along with the counsel and support provided through the Fierce Founders program, helped the startup refine its prototype, do some R&D and position the company to raise seed financing.

The company’s product, called the Rainstick, is a recirculation and filtration shower system that can help users save 80 per cent on water and energy use while still delivering the feel of a high-pressure shower. The wi-fi enabled technology allows users to control water temperature and shower duration, while also tracking consumption metrics.

Growing up in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, Alisha McFetridge said she and her husband were used to water shortages and restrictions. The ongoing increase in severe weather events over the past decade is a constant reminder that the entire country is now being impacted by climate change, said McFetridge, who is just wrapping up a master’s degree in climate change studies.

She pointed to the latest report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released earlier this week.

“It was consumer focused for the first time,” she said. “They did a very good job of getting in the face of consumers and saying, look … we now need to act because we're realizing that our time frame is shorter than we originally thought.

“From my perspective, it definitely includes some harrowing bits of information, but at the same time I see that there's this huge opportunity that we really need to start doing more.

"Showering as we know it is water intensive," she said. "An average North American uses approximately 350 litres of water per person per day, and 50 per cent of that water use is in the bathroom, with a large part of that being the shower."

it's also energy intensive," she added. "A 10-minute shower uses approximately 4.5 pounds of C02. Our solution to all of that is offering a high-flow, wi-fi enabled smart shower system that saves 80 per cent energy and 80 per cent water while providing two times the flow rate."