Lisa Oberding, Biology Developer & Design Lead at FREDsense Technologies
An interview with Lisa Oberding, Biology Developer & Design Lead At FREDsense Technologies
For those unfamiliar, please explain what FREDsense Technologies does.
FREDsense Technologies believes in a world where anyone, anywhere can find out exactly what is in their water. We are developing a platform biosensor system that can be used quickly on-site, while accurately detecting water contaminants. FRED, the Field Ready Electrochemical Detector, is unlike any other sensor. It uses a biological system, which generates an electrochemical signal. On exposure to compounds of interest, the engineered microorganisms in FRED produce a quantifiable electrical signal that tells you how much of the compound is present in your water.
Why do you do it? What problem are you solving?
Despite the fact that water is our most precious resource, our ability to monitor the quality of our freshwater assets is lacking. The amount of time and money required to analyze water is too far removed from the individuals who require the test results. Because it is such an extensive process, water analysis is only done periodically, and contamination can be missed.
On-site analysis kits don’t often provide the level of sensitivity or accuracy required by industry, can be expensive, and are difficult to use. FREDsense was intended to provide accurate, real-time, and actionable results.
What motivated you to apply to be a showcase company at Launch Party 2015?
We wanted to be able to share our story and what we were doing! We also hoped to develop connections with people who could help us bring our technology to market, as well as people who could be interested in using it.
Highlights since Launch Party 2015
What are some significant milestones that your company has achieved since being showcased at Launch Party 2015?
Things have been very busy since Launch Party! We closed our friends and family investment round and opened our seed investment round. Our team has expanded and moved from our 140 sq. ft. lab into a brand new 1400 sq. ft. space. Since then, we’ve developed a portable demo-unit of our technology, and established new partnerships in the United States.
Our CEO and President spent an amazing 10 weeks living on the NASA campus as members of the first cohort of the Singularity University Labs accelerator program. We have been accepted into the GE Zone Startups accelerator program, we were selected as finalists to pitch at MaRS Cleantech Canada Demo Day, we won the Singularity University Global Grand Challenge for Water, and we are participating in the Canadian Technology Cleantech Accelerator.
What does your company have in store for the fall of 2016?
This fall we will continue testing field samples with our partner water districts and begin field deployment of our technology. We are also working on expanding the range of our sensor platform to new compounds of interest.
How did Launch Party benefit you?
We were able to network and connect with a variety of people who were both interested in what we were doing as well as those who wanted to help us push things forward. We became more connected within the startup community and in Calgary as a whole.
How can startups make the most of their experience with Launch Party?
Get in touch with people who can help you along your journey, or know those who can. Connecting with the community can help you tremendously in getting to where you need to go.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to take their idea on the back of a napkin into the marketplace?
First, connect with as many people in your target market as you can. Share your ideas, ask for their feedback, and really listen. This will help you validate your idea.
Second, find the people who have been through this before that can help you along the way. We have been working with an amazing team of mentors and advisors and they continue to be instrumental in getting us to where we are today.
“You are not going to know how to do everything or even know where to start with some facets of your business, so ask for help and ask those who do.”
Third, know when to be persistent and when to be flexible. Stick behind the things that you are passionate about and be persistent in pursuing your goals. While persistence is key, be open to new ideas and change. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity because you weren’t flexible.
Launch Party 2016 is took place on November 17, 2016.