With the novel coronavirus confining almost everyone to their homes for the last couple of months, the use of electricity and water has shot up. But as climate change alters weather patterns and endangers water supply across the world, it’s imperative to use judiciously and conserve the precious resource.
Chennai-based water management startup WEGoT Utility Solutions aims to do that and “put India at the forefront of water conservation”.
The startup uses its proprietary IoT device and software to help cut down the demand for water by more than 50 percent, by detecting drop leakages and water theft, and informing the user in real time.
The technology has been adopted in more than 30,000 houses across 12 cities, and spans 20 million square feet of commercial properties. WEGoT claims to have helped customers save one billion litres of water so far.
WEGoT was founded in 2015 by four engineers - Vijay Krishna, Mohamed Mohideen, Abilash Haridass, and Sudeep Donthamshetty - as an attempt to promote conscious consumption of water.
“Growing up in Chennai and witnessing acute water shortages, we wanted to contribute and help the city solve its water scarcity problem,” Abilash says.
The IoT-based device and software platform can be connected to water inlet pipes to monitor water consumption. The solution is certified by the Fluid Control Research Institute (FCRI) as having more than 98 percent accuracy rate.
“WEGoT plays on IoT, and stands for Water, Electricity and Gas. Although our focus right now is only on water management, we do have plans for electricity and gas at a later point,” says Abilash, Co-founder and CMO.
The physical product was built by Mohideen and Vijay, while Sudeep built the cloud architecture and application. Abilash ensures that the product reaches the right hands.
The startup has a team of 90 employees and plans to increase that to 200 people in the next couple of months.
How does it work?
“Traditional water meters are from mechanical companies and are turbine-based solutions that cannot detect air passing through pipes and drop leakages. WEGoT attempts to solve this using technology and checks instances of water theft and inlet water quality,” Abilash explains.
Having realised the capacity of IOT, the team developed a sensor-based device and software platform that can be connected to water inlet pipes.
The device, when installed in an individual apartment, can track water usage and provide daily reports. The granular data collected from various installations are then analysed to provide insights. These insights are shared with the end customer through a mobile application.
The software also tracks usage patterns, helping building owners know the amount of water they need to store in tanks. It also detects leakages, abnormal water usage, and inefficient water infrastructure, and informs users and facility managers in real time.
“As part of the process, people become more accountable and decrease their consumption,” Abilash says.
Working the SaaS model
WEGoT acquired its first few clients through the founders’ personal network, and later through word of mouth and references. The water management startup is currently targeting residential apartments, and commercial spaces such as IT parks, malls, hospitals, and industries.
WEGoT provides the product free of cost. Users have to pay a monthly fee that ranges between Rs 149 and Rs 349, per residence. For commercial buildings, the charge is 20 paise per square feet, apart from installation charges.
Some of its residential clients include Brigade Appaswamy Real Estate and Casa Granade, among others. Its commercial clients are Infosys, Danfoss, Zoho, and Ascendas.
Boostrapped since inception with Rs 1 crore, the startup has been recording a 100 percent year-on-year growth. It posted a revenue of Rs 7.5 crore last year, and aims to hit the Rs 15 crore mark this year.
Earlier last year, WEGoT closed its seed funding round at $2 million. The round was led by GoFrugal, Founder of iThought Shyam Sekar, and Brigade Enterprises. Others, including Vibhu Natarajan, Director at Grotech Landscapes; Rajagopal S from Entrust; Joydeep Ponugoti from Manbhum Constructions; and Promod Kumar, also participated in the round.
“The capital infusion was predominantly to strengthen our product and scale our presence in India. We also invested in recruitment,” Abilash says.
The water management startup was one of the four startups that recently raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Brigade’s REAP, a proptech accelerator. Earlier in March 2019, WEGoT was selected as one of the eight potential future technologies at the Global Housing Technology Challenge where the team explained the solution to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The water management market
According to a report by MarketsAndMarkets, the global smart water management market size is expected to grow from $11.7 billion in 2019 to $21.4 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 12.9 percent.
WEGoT directly competes with Bengaluru-based SmarterHomes Technologies, but its differentiator is that it does not rely on imported equipment and manufactures its own hardware and software.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought WEGoT’s field work to a halt and its new projects are on hold. However, the Customer Happiness Team at WEGoT is constantly available to resolve all queries of existing customers.
“ Our objective is to save 10 billion litres of water by 2022,” Abilash says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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