Swirltex’s quest to recycle the toughest waste waters

CEO Melanie McClare talks about its revolutionary technology and the role the Creative Destruction Lab played in growing the company

Melanie McClare is CEO of Swirltex.

Melanie McClare

What is Swirltex and what does it do?

McClare: Swirltex is a Canadian water tech startup based in Calgary. Our vision is to unlock opportunities to reuse and recycle the toughest waste waters and decrease the global industrial water footprint.

We have developed a revolutionary membrane technology that can significantly improve filtration efficiency and membrane lifetime by solving the biggest problem in the industry: membrane fouling. It has many applications, including wastewater treatment recycling, as well as food and beverage processing.

Swirltex has proven its technology at commercial scale in the municipal market and is working on developing the tech for high-value markets, including produced water treatment, industrial wastewater treatment, and food and beverage processing.

Where are you operating now?

McClare: Swirltex is operating in Alberta.

What are the growth plans for the company?

McClare: Swirltex initially plans on growing its industrial and produced water treatment applications for the technology. We will start with projects in Canada and will expand to the U.S., where 70 million barrels of produced water are generated daily.

We are focused on markets where water recycling and reuse is becoming an emerging trend. As we progress, we will tap into the growing, US$14-billion membrane market globally in applications across multiple sectors.

How and why did you get involved with the company?

McClare: I met the founder of Swirltex, Peter Christou, when I was an MBA student participant in the Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies.

I was intrigued by the technology and the possibilities it created for water reuse on hard-to-treat waste waters. My background seemed like a good match, with nine years of experience in the water treatment space and an engineering degree before that.

Peter needed help getting a business plan together and raising capital, so I jumped onboard in January 2018.

Can you explain the Creative Destruction Lab and the impact it’s had on the company?

McClare: CDL is an early-stage program for technology and science-based startup companies. It pre-qualifies applicants with highly scalable potential and puts them in front of mentors, investors and best-matched researchers.

It’s an annual eight-month program that gathers in bimonthly sessions and implements an objective-focused mentoring process for ventures with the highest potential and coachability.

Graduating from CDL means you have had eight months of intense objective hustle, and minimum four hours monthly mentor time with the best of the best in the ecosystem (known as fellows and associates to the program).

To stay in the program as a venture, at least one fellow or associate has to offer to mentor your venture between sessions. Also, each venture is paired with an MBA student to help achieve business-focused objectives throughout the term. It’s a must-do for any early stage tech startup.

Swirltex’ trajectory changed dramatically with its entry into the CDL. We were able to raise a seed round to kickstart our success, and gain valuable introductions to local customers and ecosystem partners. Our fellows and associates remain as trusted advisers and supporters of our business to this day.

– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business

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