GreenyWave - say goodbye to water waste
Jimmy Aguirre, a Colombian Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF) entrepreneur, is piloting GreenyWave, an IoT (internet of things) device which works alongside traditional water meters and aims to reduce water waste. We interviewed him about his innovation, his achievements since participating in LIF and his lessons learned:
Can you briefly describe your innovation and tell us what inspired you to create it?
One morning I got out of bed early, turned on the light and saw the whole house was flooded. I went out to the balcony and saw that there was water in the street, and in several of my neighbours’ properties, creating a lot of expensive damage.
I began researching water issues, and discovered that around 42% of the water supply in Colombia is lost. This is a global problem, with 22 - 30% of water lost from European water systems. Surprising to some, London is recognised as one of the 11 major cities most at risk of running out of water.
How did you plan to tackle this problem?
At GreenyWave we saw an opportunity to save water using technology. We designed an intelligent IoT (internet of things) device that can be coupled with a traditional water meter, converting it into a smart water management device.
It connects the meter to the internet, creating a tool to detect and warn users of leaks and measure pressure. It also becomes a hub for connections with other smart IoT devices, allowing us to build data from each user that has never been accessible before. Through better data capture we can avoid water waste, help people and companies save money, and ensure that water supply exceeds demand.
GreenyWave is also designed with Latin-American culture in mind, with extra security features to protect the device and data.
What impact did attending Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF) training have on your business?
LIF mentors helped me realise the importance of finding the right business model for our innovation. We learned how to adapt our solution for the UK and European markets, and saw that a new business model could also work better for Colombia. We moved from seeing the utility provider as our client, to seeing people as water supply users.
I also learned two key lessons:
You can have a great idea but if it doesn’t solve a real problem, it won’t lead anywhere.
Without clear and concise communication, a great idea won’t attract clients or investors, and won’t have a future - it won’t survive.
How did LIF help you back in Colombia?
It expanded our network, gave us more credibility and created more confidence in GreenyWave. We gained support from public institutions like utility providers and city councils and we had offers to start pilot projects in several cities.
Some research centers and possible clients opened their doors to us when they learned about our innovative technology solution.
Finally, participating in LIF led to us being recommended for another UK start-up accelerator, IoT Tribe North, in South Yorkshire.
What was your experience of IoT Tribe North?
Being out of Colombia for three months wasn’t easy, but the warmth and affection of the people there made us feel like family. It is a great place and perfect for realising your dreams!
The IoT Tribe mentors guided us to refine our technology and conduct competitor analysis for similar technologies in Asia and Europe. We improved our business proposal and made important contacts in England, as well as securing meetings in the UK, Spain and Singapore with possible investors, customers and suppliers. This has broadened our horizons and opened even more opportunities for the company.
We were interviewed by BBC Radio Sheffield, alongside other entrepreneurs. It was very exciting because the BBC is well known globally as a press leader. Some people we know in Colombia heard us on the radio, it was a great experience!
What stage is GreenyWave at now?
We have several pilot projects running with prototype devices, including two pilot tests in Huila region with 30 units. We also have one paid-for instalment in Puerto Asis in Putumayo with 27 units, and one more paid-for and ready to be deployed soon in Ibague City, with 23 units for macro-metering.
Since LIF we have introduced more security layers and changed some electronics to meet international standards and reduce the size of the product. We are sure these improvements will help us reach more clients as we continue to improve our solution. We are approaching some UK utility companies and we hope to be able to run test projects with them.
What one tip for success would you give to your fellow innovators?
Have passion for everything you do and be determined to achieve your dreams. Do not give up, no matter how big the problem.
For more information, please visit greenywave.com.