Boulder, Colorado, United States: Water-Chilled Climate Control Systems
Stephen Keen, CEO
Trent Doucet, COO
Ellen White, CFO
Brandy Keen, VP of Sales
Todd Whitaker, VP of Engineering
Katie O’Block, VP of Marketing
Surna’s (OTCQB: SRNA) mission is to develop innovative technology and manufacture products to address the energy and resource intensive nature of indoor cannabis cultivation. Surna’s goal is to become the ultimate infrastructure resource for the cannabis marketplace. Surna’s business model, however, does not include the cultivation, sale or distribution of marijuana, because it is still federally prohibited.
Revenue Driver: Sales
Competitors: Surna’s primary competitors are big HVAC companies like Daikin and Trane; however, these companies do not directly target the cannabis industry.
“We’ve got a team of engineers who are phenomenally brilliant and have experience with the specific environmental conditions needed for a grow. That really differentiates us from any other high technology company that is either existing in the space or wants to come into the space—our knowledge of grow room environmental control and the need for energy efficiency is a big advantage.” -Katie O’Block, VP of Marketing
Business Model: Surna is an engineering and manufacturing firm for cannabis technology.
Funding: Surna was initially backed by private funds without the help of investment banking. On October 16, 2014, Surna closed a $1.325 million round of financing. Surna is currently working on a financing round with Newbridge Financial, an investment banking firm.
“We’re currently targeting commercial grow facilities because of the novelty of the commercial industry as a whole. There’s an exceptional amount of people building new grows throughout the country. In Colorado, it’s a little bit different. We’re reaching out to people who are looking to replace their existing HVAC system to become more energy efficient. We also work closely with a number of consultants and a number of established commercial growers. This approach makes sense because these contacts are the keyholders for a number of people that have never worked in the industry; these are the true experts.” -Katie O’Block
Cannabis growers and producers
“Surna’s climate control technology came from a company we acquired, Hydro Innovations. Through the Hydro Innovations brand, we are able to provide products for smaller scale grows, including caregivers. This allows us to provide climate control solutions to people who are growing medicine, under strict compliance with state law, in their homes for themselves or others.” -Katie O’Block
Target Market: Commercial grows – grows that require 20 or more tons of cooling.
“Surna is currently focused on energy efficient technology for indoor gardens. Our keystone product is a water-cooled climate control system that is significantly more efficient than traditional HVAC for commercial gardens.
To expand on our water-cooled platform, our engineers developed a new water-cooled reflector, the IsoLux. They spent hours of time analyzing reflectors that were currently on the market and researching how to best meet grower’s needs. From there, they designed a new reflector that provides superior light-on-target to the plant canopy and improved energy efficiency.” -Katie O’Block
“The biggest hurdle we find is educating people on the technology we’re creating. Everyone knows energy efficiency is crucial, our challenge is helping them understand they can save energy and increase productivity at the same time. The products that we’ve created are more technologically advanced than what exists currently. Because of that we spend a lot of time educating new growers and potential customers on the benefits.” -Katie O’Block
Stephen Keen, CEO, a life-long tinkerer, salvaged his first 4-wheeler at 7 years old. Keen attended Texas State Technical College, where he learned the ins and outs of complex mechanical systems. In 2003, he began his entrepreneurial career with a successful construction business remodeling and building commercial and residential properties. In 2007, Keen co-founded Hydro Innovations with one goal: to improve methodology and energy efficiency in controlled environment agriculture. To this end, Keen developed an impressive IP portfolio and manufactured many unique products that have set a new standard for climate efficiency in this market.
As a 14 veteran of the industry, Keen has gained unique expertise as a controlled environment agriculturalist. He has served as the chief cultivation expert for one of Colorado’s largest MMC operations and has been published in various prestigious industry magazines including Max Yield and Urban Garden.
Brandy Keen, VP of Sales, has a career that includes highly technical sales, entrepreneurship, and leadership in the semiconductor, construction, and indoor agriculture industries. During her time in semiconductor sales, Keen’s high-end clients included reputable brands such as Texas Instruments and IBM. In 2005, she joined Stephen Keen in developing and managing a successful construction business remodeling and building commercial and residential properties. In 2007, Keen co-founded Hydro Innovations where she acted as Director of Operations.
During her time at Hydro Innovations, Keen developed a sophisticated knowledge of the controlled environment agriculture industry and established herself as an expert on the garden and indoor climate. She has been published in prestigious industry magazines such as Maximum Yield and has led educational classes on the importance and proper methodology of energy efficient climate control. Hydro Innovations was acquired by Surna in 2014. She currently sits as Surna’s Vice President of Sales.
Todd Whitaker, VP of Engineering, brings to Surna over 20 years of mechanical engineering and technology development experience. This includes expertise developing and leading highly technical design projects, most notably designing core systems for the Mars Phoenix Lander and Mars Rovers for NASA. With a strong background in sealed systems, thermal system design, and chemistry mechanisms coupled with solid experience utilizing advanced materials including fiber reinforced composites and engineering polymers, he brings the Surna engineering team a unique skill set and leadership capability.
Previous to Surna, Whitaker was CTO for Impulse Composites, a developmental stage composite design company, where he invented and patented a key, high-performance product component, and was instrumental in its business planning and corporate development. He remains a member of its Board of Directors.
Prior, Whitaker served for nearly three years as Senior Design Engineer for MMA Design, a designer and producer of spacecraft components. Earlier, he served for six years as Product Engineer at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, a United States defense subcontractor, where he designed key system components, for the U.S. Navy AV8-B Harrier high performance attack-fighter jet, and was instrumental in developing manufacturing processes. There, he earned his credential as a Six-Sigma green belt.
Innovation and entrepreneurship are consistent themes throughout Whitaker’s career as he has developed and patented several product concepts and founded several companies. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder.