RainStick Shower

RainStick Shower

A nice, hot shower is something most of us experience daily, but did you know approximately 100L of  water is wasted for every 10 minutes of showering? 

“We looked at how water is used within the residential home and 50% is used in the bathroom,” says  RainStick Shower Co-founder & CEO, Alisha McFetridge. “We’ve seen some efficiency with toilet flushing,  but we can’t say the same thing for showers, so that’s really where we started.”  

These facts, along with increasing drought levels in water basins throughout Canada, were the impetus  for Alisha and Sean McFetridge—who both grew up in the Okanagan—to launch RainStick, North  America’s first circular shower that saves up to 80% of the water and energy typically used, while still  providing a nice flow rate.  

From development to market, the product was years in the making. Alisha’s background in international  business and sustainability, including a master’s degree in climate change, and Sean’s background in  engineering and energy conservation made the perfect match for developing the RainStick prototype, a  cardboard version they created prior to officially launching the company in 2019.  

With a small founder’s contribution, along with Alisha’s win in a pitch competition in 2020, the couple  kickstarted the R&D for the company; today, they are raising an investment round for the business and geting set to grow their team, which currently includes nine full-time employees and several  contractors. While the couple launched RainStick in Ontario, they made the decision to relocate back to  Kelowna, closer to family, the mountains, and the markets they serve along the west coast.  

“We plan on adding roots to our headquarters and growing our team right here in the Central  Okanagan,” notes McFetridge, who had previously worked in the city’s tech industry at companies  including Bananatag and Disney’s Club Penguin. “We are very proud to be in such a beautiful region and  we are often educating folks on the opportunities that exist in Kelowna exists.” 

To build awareness of the company, Alisha and Sean decided to showcase at the Consumer Electronic  Show 2022 in Las Vegas—out of 1,800 international companies, RainStick ended up being awarded Best  of Smart Home and Best of Innovation, garnering a lot of international interest. In early 2023, the  company was selected, out of hundreds of international applications, as one of 11 cohort members— and the only member from Canada—for Imagine H2O, one of the world’s top accelerators working with  early-stage water startups. RainStick Shower is also featured on TIME’s List of The Best Inventions for 2023, which features 200 groundbreaking inventions from around the world.  

The next version of the RainStick Shower, specifically for more cost-conscious consumers, is already in  the works. The company recently announced international partnerships in New Zealand and Australia  and launched distributors in California. They have also been fielding substantial interest from parts of  Europe. Decentralized water technology for other areas of the home is at the core of RainStick’s future developments, all of which will take place from the heart of the Central Okanagan. 

“We are a water conservation company—we know there is lots we want to do in this space, particularly  in the residential home,” says McFetridge. “A lot of our water and energy use can actually be controlled  in a better way. Showering is just the beginning.”

“Our region is growing in terms of opportunities for companies, so it’s a really exciting  time to be in the Central Okanagan. Area residents want to support local, it’s a really encouraging thing.  You don’t get lost like you do in larger cities, you are very much part of the ecosystem, which is really  cool.”

Hexagon Purus

Clean Tech

Hexagon Purus

Though many may think cleantech is the result of recent sustainability and economic trends, the team at Hexagon Purus has spent more than two decades working on innovative solutions that support the transition to clean technology for commercial vehicles.

In spring 2023, Hexagon Purus—a business unit within Hexagon’s portfolio focused on zero emissions mobility—held the grand opening for its 60,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art micro-factory, one of many new buildings located in the rapidly growing Kelowna International Airport Business Park.

“We are, today, putting both fuel cell electric and battery electric vehicles on the road,” says Hexagon Purus Executive Vice President—and Kelowna local—Todd Sloan. “The technology is here, now infrastructure is the next step.”

It is expected that the micro-factory will produce more than 1,000 battery systems annually for heavy-duty vehicle applications. By 2024, more than 150 engineers and assembly technicians, along with additional team members handling operations and administration, will be employed at the Kelowna micro-factory. Attracting talent to the region is easy, thanks to its picturesque landscape, big city amenities, and enviable quality of life, which includes work-life balance, a close-knit community, and minimal commute times.

“We’re excited to have the new micro-factory where everyone can come together under one roof,” says Sloan. “While the building is new, the team isn’t—it is made up of many folks who have been around since the early days as well as a lot of new talent, made up of locals and individuals from across Canada and around the world.”

The early days involve Sloan’s more than 20 years of experience in the trucking and clean mobility industry, which eventually led to the company he founded, Enviromech Industries, joining forces with Hexagon.

Now, as part of the Hexagon Purus Executive Management team, Todd continues to be at the forefront of the company’s growth and innovation. While Hexagon Purus is making an impact locally in the Central Okanagan, the work being done in Kelowna will have a global impact.

Shortly before the Kelowna micro-factory opening, Hexagon Purus signed a landmark long-term agreement with Hino Trucks to produce complete battery-electric heavy-duty trucks for the US market. The agreement, valued at approximately $2 billion USD, will see up to 10,000 trucks delivered by 2030, with the initial battery system volumes being produced at the Kelowna facility.

“We are fortunate to be able to research, conceive, and design this in Kelowna,” notes Sloan. “We will continue to expand into new areas in North America and the next [vehicle integration] facility is opening [in Dallas, Texas] in 2024.”

Sloan also notes there is a lot of support for cleantech growth in Kelowna, including the Cleantech Hub at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus (UBCO), which provides access to researchers, students, and programs to assist in launching projects.

“The Okanagan brings the ability to attract talent, create local opportunity, and have an unbeatable lifestyle and a career with purpose,” says Sloan. “BC has always been progressive in the clean and green economy. In Kelowna, we have a great mix of opportunity and the Okanagan lifestyle.”

Sector Stories

  • Clean Tech

    At the heart of the Okanagan, a green revolution has rapidly taken shape, transforming the region and beyond thanks to innovative cleantech solutions that are establishing a sustainable and vibrant future.

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    Since its launch in 2016, Vitalis has used its expertise in CO2 handling to develop original equipment, supporting and furthering the clean tech industry within the Central Okanagan, BC, and beyond.                         

    “What started as a core competency in CO2 handling has now allowed us to utilize that knowledge and create different lines of products,” says Carla Berrie, VP of Revenue. “Our extraction machines are CO2-based, using the gas in its liquid and supercritical fluid phases as a solvent to pull the terpenes and cannabinoids out of cannabis primarily. From there, we started to expand into other markets, including hops extraction, which has taken off.”                   

    Taking elements from the original extraction machines, Vitalis developed its R744 heating and cooling solutions for commercial- and industrial-sized applications, which use CO2 as a natural refrigerant. Its Coolshift chiller for breweries is one example.                                             

    “The reason we use CO2 is that it’s a clean solvent, it’s a clean refrigerant, it has low global warming potential, and it’s non-toxic,” explains Berrie, noting that CO2 has a “bit of a funny rep” because it is also used as the unit of measure for global warming potential.                            

    “If you were thinking of CO2 as a refrigerant, the global warming potential is 1, whereas if you think about the refrigerants that are most commonly used right now, synthetic refrigerants, you are getting into the 3,200 global warming potential. So, CO2 is extremely low with the global warming potential,” she adds.                                               

    The Coolshift chiller, as Berrie describes it, uses R744 (CO2) to recover “waste” heat from the chilling process, offsetting the need for gas boilers to create hot water, which is used a lot in breweries. The chiller can also be paired with a system that captures CO2 from the fermentation process, which is then cleaned, liquefied, and provided back to the brewery for its numerous CO2 needs.              

    “It’s a big deal in Western Canada, as there are not a lot of CO2 suppliers,” notes Berrie. “It can provide breweries with CO2 independence, and the ROI on the chiller unit is quick, about one to two years.”                                                      

    Offering product lines that benefit businesses by contributing to their success and profitability, while also reducing their environmental footprint, is the sweet spot for Vitalis and what they are most excited about. Profitability is also one of the “Ps” that guide the team’s work.

    “As we’ve matured as a company, we’ve solidified our commitment to planet, profit, and performance. For us, right now, the planet is rooted in CO2 technologies,” says Berrie. “When we talk about performance, we talk about not only the performance of our machines but also about the safety aspect of what we do.”

    This safety aspect leads to what Berrie says would be a fourth “P” in the equation—people. The company is heavily involved in safety-related matters and, at the end of 2022, was featured in a WorkSafe BC health and safety profile piece for its work in the cannabis industry.     

    “People are at the heart of our performance,” says Berrie. “[One of our founders] James is pretty  passionate about bringing highly skilled jobs to the Central Okanagan. Contributing to the clean tech industry in BC, in the Central Okanagan specifically, is really exciting for us and we are proud that our  work aligns with the CleanBC 2030 roadmap.”

    GreenStep Solutions


    It was a desire to save the world that compelled 18-year-old Angela Nagy to start GreenStep Solutions. It’s been a desire to persevere and stay true to her purpose that enabled Angela to make Greenstep one of the country’s leading companies to promote sustainability initiatives in business and politics.

    Saving the world seems like an overly ambitious goal when starting a company, but that’s exactly what spurred Angela Nagy to launch GreenStep Solutions in 2008. After completing a sustainability strategy for their first client, a large, well-known company, Angela realized that there was more of a need to help small and medium sized businesses, which make up a huge percentage of the market.

    In the beginning, GreenStep worked onsite with these businesses; however, Angela and her team knew that the only way to scale their business and quickly create the big impact they wanted was through digital technology. So, they developed online assessment tools that businesses could use to measure and improve their sustainability performance.

    As part of the company’s evolution, they moved further into the clean tech sphere by acquiring a carbon measurement software company in 2013. The GreenStep team completely redeveloped the software and designed it as a tool for small and medium sized businesses to measure and track their carbon footprint.

    “What I’ve learned in operating my business, as I’ve grown the digital side of the company, is the amazing network and support systems that are available to entrepreneurs in the Okanagan,” says Angela. “Whether that’s through Accelerate Okanagan or other entrepreneurs…It’s mentors and programs for businesses like mine that help us grow.”

    GreenStep Solutions has certainly flourished, doubling in size each of the last few years, with a total of 16 people working in the Kelowna head office or remotely from locations across Canada. As her company has grown, Angela has dealt with the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, her resiliency and ambition guiding her every step of the way. Through both the good and tough times, she was able to find encouragement and connect with like-minded people thanks to organizations like Okanagan Women’s Mentoring and Angel Network and WeBC, who specifically support women entrepreneurs.

    As an entrepreneur, Angela knows that building and nurturing relationships is key to success. To this end, GreenStep developed a long-standing partnership with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, who they are working closely with to become global leaders in sustainable tourism.

    “Our big, hairy, audacious goal is to become the business most known for improving the sustainability performance of small and medium sized businesses throughout North America,” says Angela. “Our legacy would be that it started here in Kelowna, that it’s an Okanagan success story and that it has a positive impact on the business community within our region.”

    The positive impact the company wants to achieve is already well underway—GreenStep Solutions has worked with more than 3,000 tourism destinations, businesses, and organizations, including Tourism Kelowna, who in 2021 achieved Platinum Certification through GreenStep’s Sustainable Tourism Program. 

    As Angela reflects on her more than 20 years working in Kelowna’s technology ecosystem, she observes how neat it’s been to watch things incubate and grow, with numerous entrepreneurs in the region using technology to solve environmental problems.



    It was a desire to save the world that compelled 18-year-old Angela Nagy to start GreenStep Solutions. It’s been a desire to persevere and stay true to her purpose that enabled Angela to make Greenstep one of the country’s leading companies to promote sustainability initiatives in business and politics.

    After seeing plastic debris in the water around Hawaii, Saskatoon environmental consultant Jeremy Lang felt compelled to do something about it. So, in 2011 he helped invent Flaxstic®, a tough but compostable material made from flax straw. Then he started making phone cases. Then things got interesting.

    After meeting Jeremy in 2015, entrepreneur Matt Bertulli invested in Pela, and soon became CEO. “I didn’t particularly care too much that he was making phone cases,” says Bertulli. “But I definitely liked that he had this compostable material that seemed to have a better end of life than plastic. So I was really interested in what else it could be used for.”

    The company went on to diversify. “Now we have all kinds of other compostable accessories like smart watch straps and Airpod cases. We’re also making sunglasses and lenses from special polymers that are landfill biodegradable. We own a personal care brand for deodorant, shampoo and conditioner and currently have several new products we’re working on. Pela is a brand that makes products with a graceful end of life. The idea is to get rid of plastic waste.”

    “While looking for a location, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary and Kelowna were all options. We flew out here at seven in the morning and met with the mayor and then Corie and Krista from COEDC. In just one day I think we met anybody and everybody in Kelowna. They were really welcoming.”

    “The thing that surprised us was everybody was singing the same tune. In Toronto, there’s a lot of different businesses competing for attention and here was Kelowna telling us they’re really focused on startups and tech. The community was clearly thriving and it seemed like a really good place for business. So Jeremy and I moved here with all the injection molding machines and set up a small manufacturing facility.”

    “I think my initial fears around a city this size was just recruiting talent locally, finding certain senior levels of people. But it’s been pretty easy so far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. We’ve managed to attract some pretty wicked people.”

    “The lifestyle here is awesome. I’m a mountain biker and I like to ski and this place facilitates a very active outdoor lifestyle. And that’s also great for the kind of brand we’re building. We attract those kinds of people and they’re creating the kind of culture we need to build.”

    “The perception is the pace of work here is slower, but people are just as effective and they get more done and they’re just happier. So this has been very refreshing. Sort of like a restart to my entrepreneurial journey.”

    How does Bertulli sum up that journey?

    “We liken it to surfing. We happened to be in the water with a surfboard and a very large wave came along and we happened to know how to surf very, very well. So it’s all just good luck but the right sequence of events counts. I call it a really good return on luck.”

    “Pela is a brand that makes products with a graceful end of life. The idea is to get rid of plastic waste.”

    Matt Bertulli
    CEO, Pela