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Sutro seeks to make water care easier with reagent-based testing

When Ravi Kurani’s father owned a pool company in Riverside, California, he’d tell his son about the frustrations pool owners had when their pool water was out of whack — and the tedium and frustration of water chemistry, logbooks, chemical calculations and follow-ups with pool treatments.

Ravi Kurani sought a solution and, in 2015, founded Sutro.

“We know that water testing is one of the major pain points for customers, retailers and pool professionals,” says Kurani, who serves as CEO. “Sutro is creating a Smart Water Ecosystem that links everything required to test and manage water together.”

The first element of this ecosystem is the Sutro Smart Monitor. Released in May 2020 for direct-to-consumer purchase, there is one patent pending on the Smart Monitor, with several more in the works. Its core technology took five years to develop, and the robotic reagent-based testing was created from scratch, Kurani says, after realizing off-the-shelf ORP-based testing methods were not effective enough.

“An ORP-based sensor estimates chemical properties and is affected by the buildup of contaminants and mechanical devices, such as heaters and pumps,” Kurani explains. “Reagent-based is the most accurate way to measure your water chemistry because it takes an actual sample of water and performs a chemical analysis, which has been the gold standard for water testing for over 100 years.”

The Smart Monitor takes a small sample of pool water — 1/100th the amount of a traditional water testing kit — three times a day. It does a based titration to get the actual pH, free chlorine, total alkalinity and temperature of the water, “just like what a pool professional would do,” Kurani says. “The pumps and values [of the Smart Monitor] have to be precise and the chemical reaction has to be closely monitored. Thankfully, all of this complex electrical, mechanical and chemical process is done within the monitor, which allows for a reliable and repeatable measurement.”

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The readings are sent to Sutro’s Treatment Recommendations Engine (TRE), which makes dosage recommendations for the chemicals the pool owner or pool professional wants to use — with a database of over 1,000 options. 

The second half of the Sutro Water Ecosystem is the Spin Dock-tor, which syncs Lamotte WaterLink Spin Touch data to the TRE, Kurani says, allowing easy access to a customer’s full water testing history. The Spin-Dock-tor has been in limited release to beta customers since August 2020.

Sutro is also working on distribution deals and partnerships for the ecosystem for the 2021 season. “We wanted to do direct-to-consumer first to see the response and get some early adopters,” Kurani says. “Right now, we have an affiliate program that Sutro partners can use to earn commission on selling Smart Monitors to their end customers. We’re also in the early stages of figuring out the best way to give access to pool professionals as well via various financial models.”

Chris Cavanaugh, owner of Cavanaugh Pool Spa & Patio in Madisonville, Kentucky, has been following Sutro’s progress for two years and started using the Sutro Smart Monitor on his personal pool in April. “It has been performing great,” he says. “Being able to get notifications a few times a day about your clients’ pool water will keep the customers’ pools on track for a great user experience. Also, together with the Sutro Spin Dock-tor, we can still offer water testing in store to test what the Sutro device does not and make sure it’s getting the correct results.”

Beginning in 2021, Cavanaugh will be offering the Sutro Water Ecosystem on all of his company’s new inground installs and in both retail stores. “I think the product and the service they are offering is excellent,” he says. “There are no drawbacks.”

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