Meet Seyi Fabode, the visionary CEO and co-founder of Varuna, a groundbreaking company transforming the water management industry. Varuna is like a watchful guardian for utilities, cities, and water-dependent businesses, preventing water system failures by tracking risks such as contamination, asset failure, and water availability.
Seyi’s journey began after running operations for a major power station in London, giving him unique insights into complex utility systems. Inspired by the potential of entrepreneurship, he co-founded Power2Switch, a successful venture in the renewable energy space. However, it was the water crises across the US, notably the Flint, Michigan incident, that ignited Seyi’s passion for water system resilience.
Varuna’s origin story involves a DIY approach, developing a simple yet ingenious water quality sensor that mimicked a dishwasher’s turbidity sensor. This concept evolved into a sophisticated tool that tracked water quality, providing real-time alerts and actionable recommendations for operators. Seyi’s determination led him to rugged terrain and far-flung locations, laying the foundation for Varuna’s success.
The business model’s core strength lies in its profound understanding of the industry’s challenges. The water management sector boasts extensive sales cycles, demanding patience and strategic foresight. However, with over 150,000 water systems in the US and substantial contracts, Varuna leverages high-margin software solutions that sit atop data-generating assets. A masterstroke is a partnership with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), opening doors to lucrative after-market services.
Seyi’s leadership philosophy revolves around human connection and adaptability. He champions the notion of being “human” in business interactions, fostering meaningful relationships rather than mere transactions. This approach, along with maintaining an open aperture for ideas, keeps Varuna innovative and responsive. Seyi’s hiring criteria—expertise, execution, and alignment with values—ensure the right individuals drive the company’s growth.
Varuna’s future is promising, with expansion into consumer services. Their “Resilio” offering brings water issue monitoring to households, offering emergency water delivery subscriptions during crises. Seyi’s vision extends beyond profits, seeking a net-zero solution for water purification and eliminating single-use plastics.
Seyi’s insights are invaluable, shaped by books like “Thinking in Systems” by Donella Meadows and “7 Powers” by Hamilton Helmer. His personal leadership touchstone—”How human are you choosing to be in this moment?”—guides Varuna’s journey, fostering a culture of compassion and innovation.
The tale of Seyi Fabode and Varuna is one of innovation, resilience, and commitment to securing the world’s most precious resource: water.