Chuck Hansen of Electro Scan Inc.

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Chuck Hansen, the founder and CEO of Electro Scan Inc., which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Electro Scan Inc. – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

I was living happily in retirement after selling my previous software company, had just built a 10,000 square foot recording studio, bought a few several high-end saxophones that practically played themselves, and started dropping in with bands like Tower of Power on a regular basis. It all came crashing down when Ken Kerri, PE, PhD called me and asked me if I knew any new technologies that could find leaks in sewer or water pipes, especially pipes that were called cured-in-place pipe (CIPP). Bored in retirement, I thought I had a few more good years in me and could cause some real disruption in the old way of doing things.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Cities and municipal utilities, including their consultants, contractors, and service providers, are highly resistant to change and new technologies. Instead of adopting new business practices or innovations that would cut costs or make them more efficient, most would rather do the same thing they’ve been doing. Fortunately, the market is highly fragmented, with pockets of bright engineers and managers that want to be ‘first movers’. Since many smaller utilities move at a quicker pace than larger utilities, and there are a lot more small and medium-sized utilities than larger organizations, entrepreneurs can grow a sizeable business if they have the right product and patient investors.

What does the future hold for Electro Scan Inc.?

We’re busy bringing sweeping change to how utilities find and measure leaks in sewer and water pipes on a global basis. Catching legacy competitors that were stuck trying to listen for leaks using acoustic sensors or hydrophones flat-footed, we’ve adapted machine-intelligent technologies that find leaks from the inside of pipes, without relying on the human senses of sight, smell, or hearing. Working throughout COVID-19 and increasing staff, we are adapting our technology to enter water and sewer fixtures made and installed in Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, the Middle East, and the UK. With over a dozen international patents, we think we have a lot of room to grow and take market share.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Sacramento?

Sacramento is a great town for startups. With several active venture capital firms, like Folsom-based Moneta Ventures (I’m on the investment board of two of their funds), incubators, regular hack-a-thons, and places like The [Dale] Carlsen Center For Innovation & Entrepreneurship at California State University, Sacramento, the area has tremendous resources to help young companies bring new ideas to the market.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Work at as many companies as you can to get well-rounded experience before heading out on your own. Also, know your way around a balance sheet and income statement, including how basic accounting works. If you can’t do the numbers and know what they mean, you won’t be able to put together a team that shares your vision or convince investors to fund your idea.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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