Investment Notes: VAPAR

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Tristan Latcham
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Sprint is excited to announce our third Expansion Capital Fund investment into VAPAR’s $2.5M Seed round. 

Founded at the beginning of 2018 by co-founders Amanda Siqueira and Michelle Aguilar, VAPAR started with a vision to help utilities eliminate unexpected pipe failures by building a data-driven way of implementing pipe maintenance and rehabilitation. 

“We’ve started a global sewer revolution to stop unexpected pipe failures. They pollute our waterways and wreak havoc on our communities and businesses when sewage floods into properties. The data and technology are now available to build a sustainable way to manage our network. VAPAR is committed to unlocking this value with our customers using smart deep learning. There’s now a better way,” says Siqueira.

Siqueira and Aguilar plan to use the funding to hire locally and grow VAPAR’s customer base in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, which will be used as a launchpad to later expand into the massive US market. 

Aguilar said, “We are seeing exponential growth in the amount of inspections we are processing, and currently delivering over 100,000 metres of pipeline inspections per month within a couple of minutes of upload, completely self-serve. Our team has put together an ambitious roadmap to add more game-changing features and provide further efficiency gains and meet the increasing customer demand.”

VAPAR’s proprietary software enables VAPAR’s clients to upload footage on its platform, which is reviewed and diagnosed within minutes. This allows the company to understand how structurally sound the pipeline is and make quick decisions on repair and maintenance activities.

Strong mandate alignment 

With its strong alignment to our investment mandate and positive environmental, social and governance outcomes, VAPAR stood out to our investment committee from the get-go. 

Llew Jury, Sprint Ventures’ Managing Partner was impressed by VAPAR’s focus on innovation and the ability of the team to deliver substantial productivity gains and insight to critical infrastructure managers.  

“Sprint was built on the belief that extraordinary founders can build a better future, and Amanda and Michelle are the epitome of that vision. Frustrated by outdated practices and believing they could use their qualifications and technology to do better, they’re now leading pipeline maintenance innovation. With our strong ESG investing values, we are thrilled to invest in their continued growth.” 

Market opportunity

The built world, just like human beings, gets older every day. Australia’s water pipes are now, on average, 80 years old. And just like human beings, this infrastructure needs close monitoring and ‘preventative medicine’ to keep it going strong. With pipe replacement costing several thousands of dollars a meter, the only choice is smarter maintenance.

Whilst we recognise a clear need for smarter maintenance in water infrastructure, current inspection practices of water pipes are manual, slow and prohibitively expensive. Water pipes today are still being inspected via remote controlled cameras which must be controlled by a human in close proximity to the camera. Not only is this camera and operator solution expensive, it’s slow at capturing footage and this footage still needs to be manually reviewed after it’s been captured. This laborious process creates a raft of problems for utility providers and water utilities, leading to poor visibility of their pipe networks and inaccurate defect identification. 

As a result, the $119B being spent on global water pipe repairs per year is not being optimally allocated to water pipes that need the most attention.

Vapar is changing the game with its AI-powered software which helps faster and more accurate condition assessment of sewer infrastructure, using CCTV footage from pipeline inspection cameras. This is achieved using Vapar’s powerful, deep learning algorithms, which significantly increases the speed and time it takes to identify and classify pipeline defects. Notably, Vapar has already proven its algorithms are more accurate than a human expert at defect detection, and can classify them just as well as any expert could. We think this is just the beginning for Vapar, as its AI model will only improve with time! 

It’s not just Sprint who readily saw the value in Vapar’s solution, but their customers did too.

“VAPAR has been a great addition to the Ryde’s stormwater inspection program, providing accurate and efficient condition rating Council’s stormwater CCTV video, allowing for significant cost and time savings.” (City of Ryde)

“VAPAR has helped us understand the complexity of using AI for CCTV review, and we are now better positioned to start implementing this technology to improve data quality and asset management processes.” (City West Water)