Exactly one year! A colossal opportunity to launch ‘World’s First Virtual Water Network Operator’ in the heart city of Paris, a thousand miles away from our country (Kenya). In an industry that has seen little disruption over the past decades, we began the journey to model technologies with a view to bring intelligence in water distribution network.
While water stress occurs throughout the world, no region has been more afflicted than Sub-Saharan Africa which suffers from greater levels of water stress. Which begs the question as to why we came all the way to Europe with the idea (Bring value in every drop/every drop of water counts). Lack of water is an infrastructural concern effected by inefficiency in water distribution network which results from the conflicts of unpaid water bills, aging and leaky pipes, broken water mains and faulty meters.
Three months in Paris building Hydrologistics Africa, a water technology company, bringing intelligence in water distribution by automating billing through mobile money and monitoring consumption real time through an online dashboard by use of smart meter (HydroIQ). First and foremost, Techstars helped us conceptualize the idea to create a business case that would stand out from the traditional models; one that may blend to growing African population with few if any, of our prototypes still at the development stage. Armed with technical expertise and advice from Techstars partners and mentors during long office hours (hardware development) shouldn’t be the order of play but rather scout for a partner manufacturer and fix attention on financial modelling, structuring and fundraising for the business.
In that period, our team knocked door-to-door, remotely conducting a survey that would later accumulate as much data with insights showing over 90% of Nairobi residents needed a solution that would enable them monitor and manage their water consumption. This informed us from the beginning why Techstars uniquely positioned us to be a ‘go-to’ water service provider partner for major utilities across the African continent. Creating a Pan-African service group is significant strategic advantage to scale as first as possible and the reason Paris was the scene to network with renowned giant water companies (Veolia and Suez) just to mention a few.
First forward to 2018, we have built a platform that integrates mobile money with Kenya’s giant Mobile network operator Safaricom. We are building a mobile application for households to monitor water usage. What keeps us awake each and every day? Signing up homes and gated communities to test the solution which we began with an average 200 monthly installations with the aim to reach 1,500 households by the end of 2018. We are partnering with Liquid Telecom, the leading independent data, voice and IP provider in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa with the aim to use their well-established infrastructure where already Sigfox network exists, to set up water monitoring sensors.
In a nutshell, Techstars put a lot in us that made us a first #GIVEFIRST.