Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Match Made in Santa Cruz: Buoy Partners with Inboard on Battery Tech

By Tatum Whitehead
Student, Pacific Collegiate School
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

October 10, 2017 — Santa Cruz, CA

(Photo above: The battery in Buoy was a result of a collaboration between two local startups: Buoy and Inboard Technology. Contributed.)

A collaboration between the two startups grants one a great new battery for their product and the other a licensing deal for their cutting edge technology.

Santa Cruz is a town known for its beautiful beaches and timeless boardwalk. It is also home to a friendly collaborative environment for its numerous startup companies. Unlike the cutthroat, dog eat dog view of the business world, Santa Cruz startups work together to help each other out. While companies here are no doubt are striving for success, they make sure to keep an eye out for their fellow startups.

Buoy Labs, a local startup, had a problem. Their device, the Buoy, manages and reports on water usage in the home. The engineers at Buoy realized early on in the development process that the power source for their product was going to have to be a part of the device itself. Many homes don’t have power outlets near their water mains where the Buoy is mounted. Hence, the power source had to become a part of the Buoy.

Two startups join forces to solve a problem

Enter Inboard Technology, the startup that created “the most innovative electric skateboard on earth.” The CEOs of the two companies, Ryan Evans of Inboard and Keri Waters of Buoy Labs, have been friends and startup colleagues for some time. When Ryan found out that Keri had been purchasing an expensive battery that wasn’t working well, he jumped in to help out. Together they joined forces to design a specialized battery for Buoy that will run their new home water management device.

The Buoy device is fairly compact, and there was not a ton of space available for a battery. Inboard was able to design a custom sealed battery unit that simply slides into a dedicated compartment and is ready for use. It is also waterproof, which is a nice feature to have seeing as water runs directly through the Buoy.

Inboard had to hustle. Buoy was under pressure to lock down their design and get it ready for production. The fact that both companies are in Santa Cruz made it possible for them to quickly iterate on the design. Many prototypes later, Inboard had designed the perfect battery for Buoy. The battery designed is more elegant, efficient and easy to use than the other battery previously used by Buoy. It slides in without a hitch and you don’t have to connect any wires. It holds 8 months worth of power and charges in a mere two hours. It is robust yet not overkill.

This collaboration between the two startups granted Buoy Labs a great new battery for their buoys and Inboard Technology a licensing deal for their cutting edge battery technology.

Buoy Labs plans to continue improving their software and extending the life of this storied battery. But even more, this relationship serves to highlight the benefits of a robust, collaborative ethos that is the hallmark of the Santa Cruz startup community.


Editor’s note: For more about the Buoy product, read the following:

Buoy’s product release marks a milestone for smart home devices


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