StartupTalky presents Recap'22. This is a series of interviews in which we conduct in-depth discussions with founders & industry leaders to understand their growth in 2022 and their predictions for the future.
The water-tech industry refers to the development and application of technology for the treatment, distribution, and management of water resources. This includes areas such as desalination, water purification, wastewater treatment, and irrigation systems. Companies in this industry may produce equipment, chemicals, and software for these applications and provide services such as consulting, design, and installation. The water-tech industry is a growing field as access to clean water becomes increasingly important for both developed and developing countries.
The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of the water-tech industry varies depending on the specific market segment and region. However, overall, the global water and wastewater treatment market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 6% during the forecast period from 2020 to 2025. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the growth of this market is attributed to factors such as population growth, urbanization, and industrialization, which are increasing the demand for clean and safe water. The report also states that the Asia Pacific region is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period, driven by factors such as increasing population and industrialization in countries such as China and India.
For this Interview, we invited Mr. Advait Kumar, co-founder of Boon (formerly known as Swajal), and we talked about the growth, challenges, insights, and future opportunities in the Water-Tech industry.
StartupTalk: Advait, what does your company do? What was the motivation/vision with which you started?
Advait: We want to make drinking water sustainable using technology and innovation. We started Boon (at that time Swajal) with the simple intention of making drinking water affordable for the masses as we believed that drinking water is a fundamental human right and without drinking water that is affordable and healthy, our community as we know it will not survive.
StartupTalky: What is/are the USP/s of your products?
Advait: We use technology platforms IoT and AI to monitor the quality of drinking water and the health of the water purifier. This allows us to have significantly fewer maintenance issues while optimizing the efficiency of our purifiers.
StartupTalky: How has the water-tech industry changed in recent years and how has your company adapted to these changes?
Advait: The industry is changing the pricing model to subscription-based, and we are leading that change in the B2B segment.
StartupTalky: How do you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in the water-tech industry?
Advait: Podcasts, blogs, and news.
StartupTalky: What key metrics do you track to check a company's growth and performance?
Advait: The number of plastic bottles reduced per day and liters of water saved compared to a traditional water purifier.
StartupTalky: What were the most significant challenges your company faced in the past year and how did you overcome them?
Advait: COVID disrupted a majority of our B2B business, we had to pivot to other segments like B2G to be able to maintain our cashflows. Despite the major shock, we were able to get by without any layoffs which was a major success for us.
StartupTalky: What are the different strategies you use for marketing? Tell us about any growth hack which you pulled off.
Advait: As we are mostly in B2B and B2G segments, we have never really worked on marketing channels. In this regard, we are closer to Zara or Arizona Tea as our marketing budget instead goes towards making our products and supply chains stronger. We are one of the very companies in drinking water in India that has its R&D lab. We believe that research and innovation will give us the competitive edge that we need. However, in the future for other products and segments, we may deploy more traditional marketing methods.
StartupTalky: What are the essential tools and software you use to run your business smoothly?
Advait: We are very early adopters of technologies that have become ubiquitous now. For that reason, we use a developed on top of an open source CRM system that we have completely customized and built to our needs. So, we have our tech tools for CRM, support, inventory, etc. The major advantage for us is that it is completely customizable and costs are nothing when compared to using similar tools from standard SaaS vendors.
StartupTalky: What opportunities do you see for future growth in the water-tech industry in India and the world? What kind of difference in market behavior have you seen within states in India?
Advait: Drinking water is only getting scarcer and more expensive. Humans will always need drinking water. India is unique in the sense that we have a unique urgency in this compared to other countries; this process is faster for us and there are a lot many more of us. By investing in drinking water innovation and technology now, India could be a global leader in the world in the future as the rest of the world also starts needing more efficient solutions.
We can see the same thing already within India where states like Tamilnadu have first-hand experience of water shortage and consequently have a greater sense of urgency to get this resolved compared to other states who may be right behind them.
StartupTalky: What lessons did your team learn in the past year and how will these inform your plans and strategies?
Advait: We are reducing dependencies on key clients or segments so that we are diverse enough to withstand any external market shocks in the future.
StartupTalky: How do you plan to expand the Customers, product, and team base in the future?
Advait: We use a mix of go-to-market strategies depending on the product. We tend to gravitate towards working with established channels rather than creating new ones so we can focus on the product rather than building the channel.
StartupTalky: One tip that you would like to share with people reading this article who want to get into entrepreneurship.
Advait: You do you; it is very difficult for anyone else to understand a founder's intuition. Have faith in yourself and your vision.
We thank Advait Kumar for spending his valuable time and sharing his learnings with all of us.