Today the water sector is out of balance. Many big companies are dominating and buying small companies and then losing the potential benefit. Brian Shea, CEO of HAL24K Water, is committed to benefitting the people by bringing the next generation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to the Water Sector – GLOBALLY!
Data Intelligence in the Water Sector
HAL24K Water is a Data Intelligence company based out of the UK, Canada, Singapore and The Netherlands. They offer a suite of products and services that deliver operational and predictive intelligence to water companies, environmental agencies, insurance companies and national and local governments. They combine advanced data science, artificial intelligence and deep learning with visualization and operational systems through their SaaS-based platform. Through a combination of recruiting the best people in the market, creating an exciting place to work and placing the latest AI techniques, they improve data-driven decision making in complex, real-time operational environments and deliver bottom-line benefits by optimising resources, avoiding process disruptions, saving costs and improving sustainability. They are committed to focusing their abilities and capabilities on sustainability in the water sector globally.
An Idea with An Ethos
Brian confesses that he was not always passionate about being an entrepreneur but he was enthusiastic about new businesses, new business models, new technology and new customers. He has started businesses, joined small businesses and sold into large businesses. However, he is always looking for new opportunities, new trends. He has always studied the models that lead to customer intimacy, growth and market evolution. Like many entrepreneurs, his conversion to the Green Economy, global climate incidents and a more socially responsible organization has been slow and methodical.
HAL24K Water has evolved from an idea to build a new company, with a new ethos and new technology so that when people look back at their careers, they will say – that was the best company I worked for; that was the most fun; we did something that changed the world and we were part of it. For the last couple of years, we have witnessed floods ruin communities, wildfires ravage states and continents, fisheries devastated and coral reefs bleach. Brian wanted to do something to make a difference. In conversation with a friend, Jerome Mol, who had been working on a new, innovative and very capable AI and ML Platform, he found a partner and a technology to launch this new company. From day one, they set out to be different in the sector and in the way they run the business.
Innovating with A Social Conscience
HAL24K Water works with water companies to help them understand what they know and can infer in a manner that will help them lower costs, waste and environmental impact all based on the data they have available today.
The company stands on the following core values:
Capitalism with a Social Conscience – At HAL24K Water, they recognise that they must be financially stable while having secured their future to deliver the benefits they can bring to our planet. They believe that it is imperative to ensure that they do good in their community and globally. They make sure that the work they undertake allows them to meet their Corporate Social Responsibility.
Partnership – They view their corporate partners and their customers as equals in the business. They recognise the responsibility to do the right thing for their partners, even if it is uncomfortable. They treat them with honesty and integrity to ensure all relationships are always mutually beneficial and deliver business value.
Sustainability – Water sustainability efforts ensure that adequate amounts of high-quality water supply will continue to be available in the future. The integrated management of water resources is a delicate balancing act that aims to maximize the economic and social benefits that water resources provide while maintaining aquatic ecosystems. Aside from maximizing water supply, these efforts also attempt to minimize water use and loss.
Innovation – They constantly strive to redefine the standard of excellence in everything they do. They look for ideas that challenge conventional views and drive innovation. The only constant in life is change and they believe that to stay relevant they must constantly evolve with society’s changing needs.
Boldness – They have a desire to take considered risks and show commitment with a firm determination to uphold their commitments. This is the very soul of how they work – firmness in making decisions, acceptance to challenge one’s orientations and the status quo. This needs to be combined with prudence and clear-sightedness.
Freedom – Independence in thought, judgment and deeds, with entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. It also means tolerance, respect for others and different cultures and customs.
Team Spirit – Friendship, fidelity, generosity, fairness in sharing the benefits of collective work; accepting responsibilities and an instinctive willingness to support common efforts when the storm is raging while knowingly combating marginalisation. In the process, enjoying themselves socially and at work.
They focus on the best technology, best people and they rely heavily upon the independent thinking of very clever people. The company presents an exciting environment to work in, with many clever articulate people, excited about the purpose and committed to sustainability.
A Conscientious Entrepreneur
Brian hails from Eastern Canada. He grew up in a small town in Newfoundland. He married an English nurse and moved to England after a few years. They have two grown children. Since Covid, he works from home and makes an effort to ensure that he enjoys this experience with his wife, while this lasts. From breakfast together for the first time in years to cooking dinner together every evening, the couple are enjoying their time together.
He has worked in the supply side of professional and technical services for over 25 years and has been in IT for over 30 years. He has worked in the public sector, private sector, global companies and start-ups. He has learned from some very fantastic leaders about doing things correctly the first time. He has learned that being disruptive in a market is about the full package – tech, people, pricing and transformation. “You must have it all or you will come up short”, he emphasises.
Brian has spent a lot of time thinking about the future. His team has spent a lot of time looking at their values, looking at their goals. They have spent many hours looking at the right people to join the team and bring not only the ethos and the skill but the personal gravitas to make a difference. Innovation, Boldness and Freedom mean something to them and the people they hire. Ultimately, this will guarantee that integrity and innovation continue and thrive.
An Equal-opportunity Leader
Brian thinks his greatest achievement has been in the people he has found in business; people he has worked with and is friends with today; people who have joined as graduates and found the space to be named on the 30 people under 30 to watch; people who have joined in low skilled roles but could grow to senior management roles in global organisations.
His proudest moment came as a surprise to him. A colleague came to
him as he was leaving one role as a CEO and told him that he had never worked in a company before where being a member of the LGBTQ community never mattered, was never an issue and was seen as perfectly normal. He has always tried to build a company based on meritocracy, based on your contribution, based on the person. He had achieved that! He proudly states that the feeling of achievement, at that moment will never be surpassed.
Looking back now, he thinks how hard must it be for someone to keep part of themselves a secret and yet be the best they can. How bad would any parent feel knowing that their child has joined a company where their colour, religion or sexual preferences means more than their ability.
Sustainable Water, Business and Motivation
HAL24K Water is a small company where people do multiple jobs. The work is complicated because they work in different countries – UK, Canada, France and Singapore. It is also complicated by Covid restrictions. So they have a call daily to discuss different topics. Their partner companies operate in many countries and their customers are global. They work closely in teams. They all have a voice that can be heard on all topics and they seek consensus. It builds the team, builds the conviction of the team and calls out wherever they fall short!
Outside of work, Brian has a great family and his faith. He finds great joy in both.
Recently, he has been fascinated by small-scale farming and how they are changing what we eat and why we eat local. He now enjoys interacting with small producers of everything from the vegetables we eat to the honey we use to the beer and gin we drink! Small local producers are shaping our personal lives and our business! Brian takes a leaf from their book and strives to be as nimble, clever and sustainable as they are!
Brian’s definition of success has changed over the years. Years ago, he would have described success as market share, growth, multiples of EBITDA and Revenue – but not today. Experience has taught him that one can deliver all of that in a better company, with a social conscience while having fun. Today, he corrects his definition of success to creating a business that has a reason to exist, a soul and has fun delivering solutions to customers for the greater good of all. Success is in the journey not at the end of the road.
Learning from All Possible Mistakes
In a long and varied career, all the possible setbacks have been encountered. Brian admits that his first expansion into the US market should be a case study at university business schools on how not to do something! He recounts his mistakes – fundraising, running a board, selling the business and more, at some point or the other in his career. He is hoping that with the best group of people in the right roles and with the right business objective, this venture will be able to write case studies for all the right reasons.
Deliver on The Promise
Brian has the roadmap of HAL24K Water for the future chalked out.
They want to create solutions and services that will add value in Africa, APAC, Europe and the Americas. They want to attract the best people, committed to the ‘Promise of AI in Water’ and who want to ‘Deliver on the Promise”. They want people committed to Sustainability and affecting the lives of people around the world. They want to disrupt the markets they enter and prove that AI does not have to be expensive when compared to the value it can deliver. They want customers to pay for what they get and not what will never be delivered.
The New Paradigm
The promise of AI in Water is only able to be achieved through professional, collaborative and innovative relationships between water companies and their traditional suppliers and the new generation of suppliers we see today. It requires a market-leading AI/ML platform where IP is available, deployable quickly with efficient use of all resources and assets.
At HAL24K Water, it is their ambition to make a difference in the lives of people all over this world. They promise to do their best to bring ‘Best of Breed” new technology to the tried and tested companies that today play critical roles in providing water for irrigation and human consumption. From climate change to hyper urbanization, from population growth to pandemics, AI/ML can bring real and positive benefits to all. It need not be expensive, it needs to be delivered smarter by outcome-based pricing and delivering on the promise of AI.
They are committed to being a Carbon Zero and Net Zero Water company. They are committed to being good citizens of our world – helping people get better water in the right place at the right time; helping companies deliver better services to people who cannot today get insurance for their crops due to weather issues and then paperwork. They will work with anyone and everyone to clean up water supplies, deliver water with better efficiencies and above all live in a capitalist world with an environmental conscience. They are known to be always in the fight, always ready, customer-centric and good people with true grit and determination. They promise to always deliver!