Accessing clean drinking water is one of the problems faced by many individuals globally. Long queues have been a norm in many places where people access clean water. The high cost of accessing water in many parts of Africa is another point of concern. Therefore, various individuals have used this to disadvantage others. They have in turn taken it as their main source of business. Things were not different at Hyderabad where people had to put up long queues to access clean drinking water. This was noted by Vibha Tripathi who is 50 years old and her son Advait Kumar who is 25 years old.
They noted how individuals were getting it hard to get clean water at Hyderabad. Tripathi who is a Ph.D. holder in physics from IIT Kanpur worked on a solution to end the water problems. The United Nations wanted proposals on how to make clean energy accessible to a large group of people in 2011. Tripathi with her colleague who is an electrical engineer from Penn State University took the opportunity. The two came up with a grant of Rs 2.5 lakh from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. They then wrote a detailed report on water purification method that uses solar power. They realized that the main problem with the shortage of water is lack of reliable power supply.
The proposal did not go through at the UN but it is the pillar behind the founding of Swajal Water. Founded in December 2014, Swajal Water offers dispensers that use the Internet of Things to give clean drinking water. Water problem varies from one slum or village to another. This came after the team carried out a taste of different water from different places. Some had arsenic while others had a large amount of fluoride. They developed purifiers that work depending on the water situation in the area. This is according to Tripathi who is the winner of Women Entrepreneurial Quest Award 2016. The award is cutesy of the Indo-US Science and Technology forum.
IoT allows the startup to manage, update and repair the dispenser in case of a breakdown. The startup has developed 250 water-purifying systems in the country. About 70% of the purifiers have been put up in the urban slums and villages. Other purifiers are installed in high footfall areas like railway stations. One only pays Rs 1 for every glass of water and one liter of water goes for Rs 5. Getting the needed investment of Rs 40 and developing a working prototype of the water purifier was one of the challenges faced by the founders.
It was very complex to design a prototype and testing it for slums and villages was even more complex. Like any other startup Swajal Water needed to get ways on how to run its operations using its limited funds. The company has managed to secure funding of around Rs 6.5 crore. It also secured Rs 4 crore from a group of angel investors and lastly Rs 2.5 crore in form of grants. Furthermore, the startup got Rs 4 crore of revenue in 2016/2017. This increased in 2017/2018 to Rs 6 crore. The startup won many awards that include Best IT and Innovation Award 2017. It recently won a contract worth Rs 7.5 crore. The value will go to the installation of 30 water dispensing facilities in Guwahati. The founders aim at expanding their service delivery by setting up 1,000 water-purifying units in South East Asia and India by the end of 2018/2019.