A Buffalo-based venture capital firm is aiming to raise $2 million to support Formarum, a 43North competition prize winner that developed a hassle-free technology for cleaning swimming pools.
OneTen has just announced the fund and has obtained $150,000 in commitments so far, said Jenae Pitts, a co-founder and manager of the firm.
Formarum won $500,000 as a runner-up in the 2016 43North competition. The Toronto area company moved to Buffalo and has operated from the 43North incubator, and is about to move into manufacturing space in Cheektowaga. Formarum declined to specify its new location until a lease is finalized.
At 43North, Formarum pitched a technology now known as Dive Pool Systems. The device uses micro-turbine technology to capture flowing swimming pool water and deliver salt chlorination without electricity. Formarum promotes the technology as a time-saving device that makes pools "virtually maintenance free." The company's founder, Seyed Nourbakhsh, said winning the 43North prize "dramatically changed our company's future."
Formarum has secured a 2018 purchase order from a Canadian company, Pioneer Distribution. OneTen hopes to raise the $2 million for the fund by next spring, as Formarum prepares to fill an order for 750 units of the Dive Pool System from a Canadian company, Pioneer Distribution. OneTen will also make an investment in the company but has not yet determined the amount, Pitts said.
Formarum will also sell 100 Dive Pool Systems units in the Buffalo area starting next spring, for $1,500 each, in what the company describes as a beta test of the technology.
Pitts said OneTen was drawn to Formarum because of its innovative micro turbines, with blades as small as 1.5 inches in diameter. OneTen also sees lots of applications for the technology beyond swimming pools, including for water treatment, she said.
"What's exciting for us is the broader picture," she said.
OneTen invests in hardware and advanced manufacturing companies with engineering founders. The fund supporting Formarum is the second investment fund of its kind that OneTen has launched. Its first such fund supported Vader Sytems, which developed a method for 3-D printing using liquid metal. OneTen has raised $1.1 million out of that $1.5 million fund, with most of the investments coming from Buffalo.