Sutro’s Smart Device Helps Pool Owners Take Control Of Their Water Chemistry

Sutro, a startup presenting at TechCrunch’s Hardware Battlefield in Las Vegas, is aiming to remove one of the big headaches of owning a backyard swimming pool or spa.

Now, I don’t have a pool myself (weird, I know), but co-founders Ravi Kurani and Amanda Nagai told me that owners are expected to constantly check and adjust the chlorine and pH levels of their pool — otherwise they could end up with water that has a nasty chlorine smell, burns their eyes, or ruins the lining of their pool.

Not only are those checkups an annoying thing to worry about (Nagai compared it to having “a third or fourth child”), but Kurani said that testing the water and measuring the added chemicals presents plenty of opportunities to make mistakes.

Sutro’s Internet-connected device should make that process a lot simpler. It measures the chemical makeup of your pool and allows you to monitor the results from your smartphone. Plus, you can sign up for a weekly subscription that looks at the data and delivers the exact mix of chemicals you need.

While there’s a wave of Internet-connected home devices, Kurani argued that since it’s part of “the connected backyard,” Sutro has had to solve extra problems, like unpredictable weather and weak or nonexistent WiFi signal.

Even beyond the device itself, the Sutro model seems particularly ambitious. And complicated.

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“We’re hardware meets mobile web meets service, in a sense,” Kurani said. He argued that it’s not enough to just tackle pool testing — if it’s going to work for pool owners, Sutro needs to provide an “all-encompassing solution.”

Kurani also noted that his father actually owned a number of pool and spa stores, so he spent his childhood “kind of growing up in the industry.” He said he “never wanted to join the pool industry,” but after working in sustainable investing and founding ImpactSpace, a database for impact investing (he worked on it with Nagai), Kurani decided that there was an opportunity to bring a startup approach to the market.

The company is part of the hardware accelerator — in fact it’s’s first company in San Francisco. The product is currently in testing with a few alpha users around the San Francisco Bay Area. You can sign up for the alpha here, which will give you a 50 percent discount on the retail price of $399.