Water Startups Left High and Dry
In January 2014, after a two-year struggle to raise money for his startup, Samuel Rajkumar, 45, sold his company's sole product to a non-governmental organization. His product, Caddisfly, comprises a couple of small contraptions that have to be connected to a smartphone and an app, which reads the fluoride content in water
Close to 66 million Indians drink water with excessive fluoride content and six million are afflicted with fluorosis. "The technology was open source so that anyone could develop it further. I met most impact investors in the country but found no takers. They did not see value in a product that was open-source and served consumers in the poorer sections of society," says Rajkumar. Finally, he sold Caddisfly to Dutch NGO Akvo, a not-for-profit foundation that creates open source, internet and mobile software and sensors for social programmes.
Lack of interest from investors has left most entrepreneurs in the water space high and dry. Startup tracking platform Tracxn's data suggests that only 20 Indian startups have raised money in the space over the last decade. The most obvious technologies are in water filtration and bottled water, which large corporates have cornered. Other opportunities are in water filtration, purification, monitoring and metering and wastewater recycling. However, venture capital funds, which support social entrepreneurship or impact investing, say they have not found good startups in the space.
Source: Times of India