Every new product starts its life as an idea. In some cases, the idea comes out of a brainstorming session, while other ideas develop as a direct response to a need in the market. This stage is crucial as it lays the foundation for all the other phases, the ideas generated shall guide the overall process of product development.
Believe it or not, the very first time the WaterSeer idea came up in conversation was during a lunch meeting between Don and Nancy, after Nancy had read an article about women walking a great distance to collect water, only to end up being infected by the Guinea worm. For those of you who are not aware, the Guinea-worm is an infection caused by drinking water that contains water fleas infested with guinea worm larvae.
Let that sink in. Larvae. Fleas. It’s just…gross.
But, as gross and disgusting as the beginning of that conversation was, Nancy started wondering what they could do to solve this safe drinking water issue. As Don was listening to her passion about this problem, he noticed the amount of condensation around his water glass. And so, between Nancy’s creativity and Don’s engineering background, an idea came to life.
Now remember, all ideas in the beginning are good ideas (to a certain extent). Once the idea phase ends, the ideas must undergo a screening process to weed out all, but the best ideas. This is where UC Berkeley came into play. An engineering challenge was launched at the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology to improve the design and yield that Don submitted.
Each of those ideas went through a screening process and from there Don and Nancy integrated the best ones to formulate what is now known as the first generation WaterSeer.
The next challenge in this product development process was how to raise funds to transform WaterSeer, into a functional prototype. In our next blog post, I’ll discuss how we went from having a successful crowdfunding campaign to working with engineers on making this vision come to life!