Smart People Deserve to Use Smart Water Devices like WaterOn

WaterOn is the FCRI certified flagship product of SmarterHomes, Bangalore, priced at Rs. 6,500

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“As neighbours in an apartment complex, Kasturi [other cofounder of SmarterHomes] and I experienced the pain of inaccurate water billing process and the lack of water metering. To address this problem, we started SmarterHomes in 2014 with an aim to empower individual users to measure, monitor and control their water consumption in real time.”

Vivek Shukla, CEO and cofounder, SmarterHomes Technologies speaks about the ‘water gadget’ he came up with to monitor water usage.

What was the reason behind starting Smarterhomes?

SmarterHomes Technologies is a Bangalore based utility automation startup that provides quick, easy and simple solutions for housing societies to adopt individual water metering.

WaterOn is their flagship, water monitoring IoT device.

Is this a viable business?

This is definitely a viable business for two reasons – a social reason and the business aspect of it.

When we install WaterOn at an apartment building, most people are able to save at least 35 percent of water and related costs. Measurement is the first step towards saving and conserving water. If all high rise buildings that currently do not have any kind of metering, adopt smart water metering solution it can result in tremendous savings. The world will be a better place with more availability of water for future generations.

Second, in terms of the business we are investing a lot of money to raise awareness about the need and advantages of smart water metering. There are approximately 15 million apartment units across 55 cities in India. On the international front, there are more than 40 million apartment units worldwide that have an apparent need for a metering solution.

Even if we look at a market size of 55 million apartment units and focus on 5% of this as a target market segment in the next 3-5 years, there is definitely a large business opportunity for WaterOn. So far, we are offering the product at an upfront cost of Rs.6,500. For a customer needing 3 or meters, it means a significant expense. In order to help the customers gain benefits from metering, we are planning to roll out WaterOn on easy monthly subscription of Rs.100 only.

Have you been approached by any govt body/organisation to partner with them? If yes, what is the feedback?

We have not been approached by any government body as such. In fact, we have not actively pursued government bodies/organisation because that is not our target market segment

However, we get our meters certified at the FCRI (Fluid Control Research Institute of India) in Palakkad. The Director of FCRI is keen to adopt our solution in his own facility. We have already deployed a few smart meters which they are currently evaluating.

What are some of challenges you face while approaching gated communities? What is the kind of response you get?

The biggest challenge is the turn around time to close a deal. Large apartment complexes are run by volunteer committees/resident welfare bodies that comprises 10 to 12 people. There is a treasurer, secretary, president and a water body champion.

This entire cycle is a very long process which takes at least 9 to 10 months to close a deal. That is one of the biggest challenges that we face.

What is the reason behind targeting Finland, Holland and Indonesia? Which other countries are you targeting and why?

Finland - Even though Finland has enough water, they have an ageing water infrastructure that needs upgradation.

Second, most buildings in Finland do not have their own hot water plants. They depend on utility companies for the supply of hot water. It becomes imperative for these utility companies to maintain the right infrastructure during the whole distribution process. If there are any leaks in the system, they need to detect it immediately. Since WaterOns are designed to detect and control leaks, we are installing our meters in these buildings.

Holland - Holland is a water surplus country but they are quite proactive in adopting solutions that can make a difference to the world. Be it energy or water.

Indonesia - Indonesia much like India has concentrated tall high rise buildings with 40 to 50 floors. A smart meter solution is the best option for high rise buildings. Unlike a normal water meter, a smart water meter can measure consumption at a metering point and communicate to the central data servers in real time.

Other countries we are interested in - We are also in touch with Malaysia and Singapore. Many African countries have shown interest in adopting our solution.

Countries like Senegal, Malawi, Burkina Faso, South Africa are keen on our product. We have active engagements with quite a lot of South African countries. We have signed up a partner relationship with a company in Kuwait to deploy WaterOn as part of the Government of Kuwait initiative. Very recently we have also started focusing on USA, New Zealand and Australia as our next target market.

In India, we are currently present in Bangalore and Hyderabad. We have also seen a lot of interest from Chennai.

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