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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Kirkland Analytics wins $10,000 prize in startup competition

A Spokane tech company launched quietly two years ago has landed a $10,000 prize in a startup competition hosted by the Washington Technology Industry Association.

Kirkland Analytics, which has a team of five, won the top prize this week during the WTIA’s First Look Forum event held in Bellingham.

The company develops its own hardware and software tools to identify water waste and eliminate it, said Matt Rose, the company’s VP of engineering. Its main customers so far have been large businesses and big-box stores.

Four of the firm’s workers live in Western Washington, while CEO Frank Burns lives in Spokane. The company is planning to move some of its production from Missouri to the Spokane area soon, Burns said.

Rose joined forces with Burns in 2007 as Burns was starting Hydro-care International. That Spokane firm develops self-contained water treatment centers for large stores or enterprise installations.

In 2012 the two partners – who grew up near each other in Bellingham – realized that water conservation had become a key focus for many customers they were already meeting with, Rose said.

That decision has left Hydro-care on the back burner, Rose said.

While the name Kirkland Analytics conjures associations with Costco, Rose said the company is searching for a new name. Costco has been a customer of Kirkland Analytics, but it has no shares in the firm, he said.

“We’re going to find a branding company and find a name that connects with our target customers,” Burns said.

In part the name was chosen because the Kirkland Analytics domain was available, Rose said.

The firm won the recent prize in the WTIA startup competition held in Bellingham, where judges and potential investors judged more than a dozen contenders on business plan and market potential.

Judges gave high marks to Kirkland Analytics for developing a succinct tagline that sums up its focus: Manage water like inventory.

Many of its customers are big-box stores and large supermarkets. This year the company expects to see revenue around $240,000 mostly with customers in the Western United States and Mexico. None is in Washington, Burns added.

Rose said the goal is to grow the business to five times that amount in 2015.

The value of saving customers 20 percent or more in water costs is a big deal in the water-restricted areas of the Southwest and Southern California, added Rose, who has a degree in aerospace engineering from the Naval Academy.

They plan to use the $10,000 to bring on one more technical person who will assist with product development.

“We’ve been under the radar” and haven’t been active in looking for investments in Spokane or in Seattle, Rose added.

That’s already begun to change, he said, noting that Burns has begun discussions with some early-stage venture firms.