Diana Schulz has been CEO of Cyber-Rain since 2008. She is an avid jogger and HATES seeing sprinklers going off during the rain. While at Cyber-Rain, she has been recognized as one of America’s Most Promising Socially Conscious Entrepreneurs by Business Week and a leading CleanTech CEO by Women Entrepreneur.
Plywood People: We hear about global water crisis on a regular basis, but don’t pay much attention to local water conservation efforts. Can you share a bit about our water crisis in the United States?
Diana Schulz: Water shortages are already being felt across the country. Water rates are rising and many municipalities on both coasts have imposed water restrictions. The EPA estimates that 36 states will face water shortage by 2013 due to population growth, climate change and regulatory/environmental decisions. We have many opportunities to conserve. The average American uses 160 gallons of water per day, which is significantly more than any other country.
Plywood People: What are you doing about the crisis?
Diana: The easiest way to conserve is to stop using water that we won’t even miss. Within the average community, 58% of water is used outside on lawns and gardens and HALF of this water is wasted! Our product, Cyber-Rain, is a sprinkler controller with a brain — it uses a computer to check the weather and automatically adjusts sprinkling times. Cyber-Rain waters more when it is hot, less when it is cool or humid, and doesn’t water at all when it is raining. Our residential and commercial customers have already saved over 85 MILLION gallons using Cyber-Rain!
Plywood People: You’re a fairly young company. What have been some of your greatest obstacles in building your company?
Diana: All small companies in today’s economy need to carefully manage their cash, so it has been a challenge to get the word out about Cyber-Rain. Once people understand what Cyber-Rain does, they almost always want one, particularly when they find out Cyber-Rain often pays for itself in a year and qualifies for rebates. But most people don’t know this type of technology even exists.
Plywood People: How are you seeing the increasing need to care the environment changing the way companies are doing business?
Diana: Companies seem to be noticing that their customers and employees increasingly care about how businesses are impacting the environment. Companies are looking for steps they can take to demonstrate that sustainability is important to them. But companies are also facing the economic realities of doing business in difficult time. So it is a great time for products that both help the environment and pay for themselves quickly.
Plywood People: What is your greatest goal in working with Cyber-Rain, and how are you hoping to accomplish it?
Diana: I would like to completely change how people think about water. Most of us take water for granted, so we don’t think about how much we use or how much is wasted. As a result, we are depleting our lakes and aquifers as well as polluting our rivers and oceans with run-off. I believe most people want to do the right thing, but they need tools to make it easy and the motivation to make a change. Cyber-Rain is focused on using technology to make it easy to conserve and innovative ways to motivate people to use our scarce water wisely.