MOHAMED ZERBAN, 21, and Connor White, 23, both of Center City, are co-founders and CEO and COO, respectively, of Ternwater Inc., a Drexel University-based startup. Ternwater is developing a sustainable and modular product to monitor household water. It plans to launch a $50,000 Kickstarter campaign in March to bring the initial product to market. I spoke with Zerban.
Q: How'd you come up with the idea?
A: I designed a small windmill for home use during my freshman year at Drexel and did my first co-op at the Philadelphia Water Department in 2013. That gave me a better understanding of how the water system works. The challenge is to transform households from water consumers into water producers.
Q: The startup money?
A: Founder.org invested $10,000, a Drexel seed fund put in about $30,000. The rest, about $5,000 to $10,000, was personal funds.
Q: What's the biz do?
A: We're building a smart device that's a small, modular attachment that goes on your water faucet that filters the water and gives you real-time data on your water consumption and quality. It comes with an annual service in which we will ship the filters so you're always going to be able to have clean water right out of your tap.
Q: The biz model?
A: We'll manufacture the product. We're projecting that the smart faucet will sell for $99 with pre-orders through a Kickstarter campaign. About 500 people have expressed initial interest in our prototype.
Q: The value prop?
A: Most water filters run on a time-based module, not consumption-based, and don't provide real-time data. You'll be able to connect any smart device, such as a smartphone, to the faucet and our device will tell you how much water you're consuming, how good your filter is and quality of the water.
Q: Target customers?
A: People we call "home-improvers," homeowners or renters who want a smarter, healthier lifestyle. Our product fits the concept of the smart home and makes water consumption simple, smart, easy.
Q: The name?
A: Water should be just another thing in your pattern of life. You shouldn't have to go out of your way to enjoy quality water and know how much you're consuming.
Q: How big a biz?
A: Besides me and Connor, we have three engineers who are seniors at Drexel and doing their senior design programs at Ternwater. Founder.org has provided two advisers who meet with us online every week.
Q: What's next?
A: We plan to launch the beta phase in January and from January to March we'll be testing the product, tweaking it and launching the crowdfunding campaign in March.
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