We talk to entrepreneur and WGSL alumnus, Marc Flettner, about how innovation runs in his family.
Webster Graduate School London - MA Marketing (Class of 1989)
Why did you choose to study at Webster Graduate School London (WGSL)?
25 years ago things were very different to now regarding the degree Bachelor and Master. In Germany in those days the title Master of Arts was basically unknown. In those days we had the German Universities and the German degrees. I lived in the US for an exchange year in 1976 and finished High School in Illinois. I had contact to many friends who went to college or university and they spoke about studying for a Bachelor and Master and I was quite impressed. I started to study law in Germany and did so for about 2 years, but never had the impression that I was going anywhere. There were too many students in one year and everything was quite anonymous. I did not like it and decided to do an apprenticeship in an advertising company. After that I went on and moved later to UK to study. Then I moved near London and applied for Webster as they were able to offer me a masters while working in London in an advertising agency. It was a really hard time and started early in the morning and finished often at midnight, but I graduated and had my Master of Art in Marketing. In Germany, by the way, it took many more years to recognise the Bachelor and Master – and only within the last 5 years these degrees seem to have established themselves in Germany.
What are your favourite memories of that time?
Action, action, action! Getting up in the morning, commute to London, work in a large advertising agency and the walk to college, which was still very, very small compared to today. I also enjoyed the contact with students who were in the same innovative boat as me and were doing the same thing. I did get a job offer right away from a large and well known insurance company in London without having to try too hard but refused because I wanted to be self employed. And this is what I became. Memories of that time were that we were pioneers of Webster, doing something new and not well accepted in those days. But the year was hard work but fun!
What made you want to become an inventor and entrepreneur? Who inspired you?
I guess I always had a streak for business and always wanted to be self-employed. I decided in 1989 to go into water treatment as I thought that environmentally friendly water treatment would be a market of the future and sold water treatment systems for many years all over the world. Only in 2002 I decided to become more independent from suppliers and create my own water treatment system called AQUABION®. I had done many case studies at WGSL and had now about 13 years of experience so I designed my own system called AQUABION® and had it patented around the world and also trade marked. We have now sold more than 100.000 water treatment systems and since 2003 only AQUABION®. We now have about 20 agents around the world and speaking several languages helped to create very close partnerships with many of these agents. My greatest inspiration always was my great uncle Anton Flettner, who was known for the world famous Flettner Rotor and Flettner Rudder and his invention of the helicopter in 1936. A. Flettner had more than 1000 patents and was very well known as an engineer in Germany and around the world.
Tell us about AQUABION® AND DATOWER – what is the vision and philosophy?
AQUABION® is a 100% environmentally friendly water treatment system that works with a special high quality zinc anode and vortex chambers. The AQUABION® can neutralize aggressive scale and allows this neutralized scale to flow with the water flow without sticking to any metal surfaces or to be filtered off. The AQUABION® needs no chemicals, no addidites, no external electricity and no maintenance. The AQUABION® will work for 5-7 years and then only the zinc anode will have to be replaced. The AQUABION creates his energy from the anode/cathode and electrolyte water and creates a potential differential of about 1 volt. It is produced from ½” to 20” systems – from domestic use to commercial and industrial use and can be installed and/or shipped quite simple.
Datower GmbH is a sister company of AQUABION GmbH and deals with the 100% chemically free treatment of industrial open and half open cooling towers. In this company we have found a large investor who is very interested to bring DAT to national and international markets within industry.
What is your next goal?
My next goal is to globalize DATOWER with international water treatment companies and bring this ingenious and simple technology to international fame. Also to install an AQUABION® in every household – just like a laptop or computer – and make it widely acceptable as the ecological alternative to any water treatment that may exist. I also want to find new agents and partners throughout the world to help me realize those goals and maybe one or two investors who want to participate in the success. Last but not least a goal is to find or create more ecological sound products within the water treatment market and market them as well the existing ones.
My son is studying at a university in London and hopefully one day will join my companies and make them even more successful.