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Chris Morrison on Business Viability

This morning, Chris Morrison, VP of Strategic Sales at Nalco, an Ecolab company, spoke at the Top 50 Fellows’ Forum.

Chris is the Chairman of the team of judges assessing the business viability of the companies contending for the Artemis Project’s Top 50 Water Tech Awards.  He led a discussion on what it takes for promising water tech start-ups to grow and lead the industry.

To assess and predict business viability, Chris explained that he examines how companies articulate how they go to the market, the market analysis, the sales force, the team, and a company’s potential to differentiate their product line.

Many start-ups that have had successful initial product sales are not able to maintain momentum and grow from “emerging” to “succeeding” if their business plan and marketing are not executed properly.

Chris, like many others, is also dubious of companies stuck in the “valley of death” before hitting the market; ones that have not moved forward from pilot testing after many years may not be good at making money.

Instead, Chris used Nalco as an example of how new investments and product introduction to market should look.  At Nalco, everyone with an idea is invited to present a product proposal, of which a few are given money for bench-work testing.  After proven pilots and a complete market analysis, more financing is provided for a full-scale pilot.  If successful, they identify every potential customer in order to anticipate production details and profitability.  Chris emphasized that all of this moves very fast.  Although there is a big difference in Nalco, a large company constantly looking to invest in R&D, and a startup with one great new idea they are attempting to bring to the market, the same principles for success are necessary.

Chris will be evaluating the business viability of Top 50 applicants, along with Peleg Chevion of Syngenta, Reinhard Hübner from Skion, and HP Michelet of ERI.  Other experts in the field will assess companies based on their technology and their application, and a list of the Top 50 Water Tech companies will be compiled from their analyses.  The Top 50 winners will be announced in September.


About Kate Kilduff

Kate Kilduff is the Marketing and Public Relations fellow for the Artemis Top 50 competition. Currently pursuing a Master’s in Geography and Environmental Planning at San Francisco State University, her research concentrates on water project development in lesser-developed countries. Since graduation from University of California, San Diego and before coming to Artemis, Ms. Kilduff held a number of non-profit and international positions.
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