First, I recommend waking up at 4 a.m.; the day is so much fuller with those extra hours.
David Schwartz is the founder and president of The Water Scrooge, which offers patented, maintenance-free water conservation solutions to homeowners and landlords. A native of Israel, David was inspired by the Israelis’ water conservation techniques and realized U.S. markets lacked a tamper-proof conservation device for residential showers. His solution saves landlords an average of $500 per unit per year on water and hot water costs and has been installed in more than 40,000 apartments to date.
Where did the idea for Water Scrooge come from?
I was working in the diamond business and became fed up with it, so I started looking into the green industry. I’m originally from Israel, and I was inspired by the Israelis’ water conservation techniques.
When I began looking at U.S. markets, I saw there wasn’t any sort of tamper-proof water conservation tool available for residential showerheads. When I consulted a patent attorney about my idea, he told me I was onto something.
My team started by looking at showerheads because showers tend to be the single largest water-waster in an apartment. By law, showerheads have restrictors built into them to reduce water consumption. But because most tenants don’t pay for water, they’re happy to pop that piece out and let water flow like Niagara Falls.
Of course, this causes huge bills for the landlord. Water is expensive, and shower water has to be hot. If the tenant doesn’t pay for energy at the property, then it means the landlord also has to foot the bill for the extra gas or electricity used to heat the water.
We saw an opportunity to save water, and we knew landlords would jump at the chance to save some money. From there, the rest is history.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
I’m married and have three children, so I start by helping my wife with the kids. My next step is to create a to-do list for the day.
Once I get to work, I make sure all my managers are aware of what needs to be done for the day. I try not to micromanage, but I do like to oversee everything.
I spend a lot of time working with people. In a given day, I do everything from office management to installations to customer service. It seems like I’m always busy working with my team to develop new ways to conserve water or take inventory.
It’s hard work, but I can’t complain. It’s my passion, and I strive to give everything my full attention. There were up-and-down times when I started the company, but I didn’t give up. I have always given the company my full attention, and it seems to be working for me.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I always do my research. After that, I identify a problem and a solution. Then, I’ll grab some of my managers so we can put our heads together and create the solution.
I love what I do, and I think that shows in my body language. My passion shows in my drive to create something new.
My wife does accounting for Water Scrooge, and I think it helps to work with family. People say, “You don’t mix business and family,” but that hasn’t proven true in my case — I’m married to a wonderful partner.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I don’t know if there is a specific trend that excites me. Simple, practical things in the world excite me most.
I’m not impressed by much, but practical knowledge really excites me. I’m a thinker, and I love new, effective ideas and gadgets.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I always wake up very, very early — like 4 a.m. early. There’s so much ground I can cover with those extra hours each day. Without waking up early, I would never get enough done.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
I’ve never had a bad job! As I mentioned earlier, I love most anything I do. I’ve always worked for myself. I want to be productive, and I want to work passionately.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I were to do it all again, I probably would be a little more careful in blindly trusting others.
My motto is that “Everybody is innocent until proven otherwise,” and I tend to believe in people. Because of my blind trust, I have been screwed a couple of times. There are some bad people out there, and they will take advantage of you if you aren’t careful.
I’m working to be a bit more careful and not give my full trust to anyone until I get to know him or her better.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do repeatedly and recommend others do?
There are a few things. First, I recommend waking up at 4 a.m.; the day is so much fuller with those extra hours.
Additionally — and perhaps even more importantly — ask more questions. We never ask questions because we might look stupid or not sophisticated and that leads to confusion. I totally understand. Just keep asking questions until you understand the topic or issue. Force yourself to explain the concept aloud to test your comprehension, and don’t be afraid to admit that you haven’t mastered a topic fully.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We’re always looking to develop our proprietary software further. I realized that software makes us efficient in many different ways, so I always invest in software development.
Great software leaves us with much more free time to keep developing the business and to look in new directions. I’m all about management software.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I’m a musician! Nobody knows about it, but I play the piano.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I love a lot of different features from multiple web services, but I don’t know if there’s one web service that totally hits the mark for business purposes. They all sacrifice something, and they force you to work in an unnatural way.
That’s why we’re in the middle of creating our own custom software. When it’s finished, it will help us do everything from sales to project management to field installations and a whole lot more. Its a massive undertaking, but we predict it will boost efficiency by 50 percent within 60 days compared to what we are doing now, and it will allow us to expand in ways we would not be able to using today’s solutions. So we’re pretty excited about that.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I don’t have a role model, but I am really appreciative and thankful to and for honest people. Somewhere along the way, I learned a phrase that I like: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” To me, nice people smile and are honest.
Beyond that, I love my wife to the deepest depths. I really appreciate her. She’s the only one who truly understands me. She’s my partner, and she’s there for me. If I were to open a book and write all of the good things that she does, I’d probably need to write 10 books.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.