The WaterSeer Story 2017 | October 20, 2017
The WaterSeer story to date
In December we complete our first year of business. It is truly amazing how much has been accomplished, and how much has changed. The journey so far has had its full share of surprises; who ever said no plan survives contact with reality was right!
We thought it would be useful to give the WaterSeer community a summary of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going. We hasten to add that the first year as a company is not the whole WaterSeer story; it began years ago, with an observation that even with the incredible efforts championed by large corporations and NGOs the water crisis persists and women and children still walk 4-6 hours for clean water in the 21st century. Nearly 2.3B live in water scarcity and 700M people have no access to clean water at all. As populations expand these numbers will grow, or will they? That is the WaterSeer challenge.
Getting a sustainable clean water solution to the world, even under the best of conditions is a complex business, cultural and technical challenge. Solving this challenge, no matter how complex and difficult, is a worthy effort. And so, we persist, and we will never give up.
This note will focus on what has happened to the company this last year, how it effects our community, and what we see for its future. Step by step, WaterSeer is becoming a reality.
The Journey 2017
We decided to spinoff WaterSeer as separate company during the unexpectedly successful crowdfunding campaign (thank you early adopters!). It was clear that demand was global (78 countries), and massive (over 100M views), as well as rapid imitators, innumerable video edits and re-postings, and, inevitably, trolls (trolls are flipside of explosive visibility and innovation – nobody trolls something unpopular or commonplace). The concept was simple, the business model was transformative, and the appeal was explosive. The only way to meet this unexpected demand was to form a separate company, and commit to it, so we did.
During the next several months we accelerated our R&D to mature the concept into a working prototype. The challenge remained the same: technically deliver a device that would provide a consistent yield our customers could count on; it had to have a foundation technology that would serve the first-world economies and emerging economies; the cost per gallon had to be reasonable, it had to be simple and relatively easy to install anywhere in the world; it had to work in most environments; it had to be sustainable – replenish the earth’s ground water, not diminish it and; finally the business model had to support our ‘better good’ Water for the World vision. It became clear that WaterSeer was not simply a solitary product; it was going to be a line of products.
As with any startup, we were short on time and personnel, and prioritization was the most important skill in parallel with the technical and business model development, we built our first website, began operations and communications outreach to our community, and began rapid prototyping. We also had to handle complex business opportunities: international and domestic partnerships, distribution, agreements, and funding. It was like starting a global company in a single leap.
We had several technical challenges, and had to hit the optimal balance between performance, sustainability, simplicity, and price. We could see from market surveys, customer and business contacts, previous attempts, and studying competitors, that performance predictability and mechanical reliability were key factors; water is something you need to rely on. We also wanted to make sure that we were getting the maximum yield possible; we knew that 10 gallons a day was the minimum necessary for two adults and two children, and that drinking water reliability would be transformative.
We developed several designs and modules; a wind-powered model based on the concept video; a solar powered module; and a low power active cooling version. Ultimately, we decided to focus on the low power active cooling model, later named Sonoma, and to refine the wind-powered design to determine if we could reduce the variabilities of weather to achieve a predictable yield.
The active cooling prototype had several advantages over other designs. We developed feedback controls to maximize the yield and minimize the power requirements. Together with a low power atmospheric cooler, these controls gave our customers predictable, non-toxic, low cost reliable performance. By June we had a working prototype of the active cooling model undergoing field trials. In the ensuing months, we gave, and are still giving, working demonstrations to active partners and advocates including investors, commercial companies, and NGOs.
More importantly, the field trials showed how the prototype could be further improved. The newer model design and refinements, which are incorporated into the Sonoma model will be able to generate the desired yield at the power of a 150-watt light bulb. Results have been posted elsewhere, but the bottom line is the WaterSeer prototype works as predicted, generating the desired yield with minimum power at a competitive price.
The success of the WaterSeer Sonoma model will accelerate further development of the wind powered and other models. The design for the wind-powered version continues using some unique technologies that will require almost no power. Presuming success of the Sonoma model, we expect the wind powered version will be available in Q2 or Q3 of 2018.
In addition to moving into further testing of the Sonoma model with the enhanced design and controls, we are negotiating with manufacturers and distributors around the world. We are also raising the next round of funding to support our first manufacturing run and deployments. We are refining the business plan and financial models, as well as responding daily to customer inquiries.
We also have several large deployments under development in La Guajira, Colombia; southern Africa, California, and hurricane recovery in the Caribbean for immediate relief and long-term sustainability. We maintain the same goals we established when we began our campaign, and have had significant success:
1) Improve WaterSeer to increase the daily yield: the current prototype and new Sonoma model have significantly improved yield predictability and reliability.
2) Conduct fields tests in different climates and locations worldwide: we have tested in two different locations, and additional testing continues in the fall season, as well as developing pilots in Colombia, southern Africa, California, and the Caribbean.
3) Manufacture and distribute to WaterSeer Community priority purchases: We are making final coordination to begin initial manufacturing run during November of 2017.
4) Build and maintain a community website that reports on our progress and facilitates development of the WaterSeer community. We completed our initial community website in the first 90 days and launched a total refresh in August of 2017.
All funds to go achieving our goals, and to facilitate deployment. We have established the ‘Water for the World‘ initiative funded by WaterSeer, Inc., and we are establishing a non-profit organization, the WaterSeer Foundation, to manage deployment.
Where We Are Going
The first Sonoma models will be available by the end of the year with the balance in Q1 and Q2 of next year. Throughout 2018 our business model and technology will get better and better and accelerate. New funding will accelerate manufacturing and production of the Sonoma; the design, test, manufacturing, and delivery of the wind-powered WaterSeer; architectural WaterSeer; and applications we may not even know about today.
We will complete partnership negotiations with distributers in the US, Africa, Latin America, and India, as well as the European Union. Of course, the future has numerous twists and turns, including unexpected challenges and rewards; we do not expect to go through next year without additional change and adaptation.
We want to thank our early adopters and our entire WaterSeer community for joining us on this complex and important journey. In 2018, because our efforts and your support, more people will have water security and independence. Fewer children will die due to dehydration. Women and children in water poor areas of the world will have access to clean water, be healthier, and have new independence and new opportunities.
With the greatest of respect and appreciation,
The WaterSeer Team