How much water did you use this week? If you’re like the average American, you tapped about 88 gallons each day and wasted almost 180 gallons from unrepaired household leaks. Annually, U.S. families collectively flush about 9,400 gallons down the drain, which is equivalent to the amount needed to wash more than 300 loads of laundry.
Austin, Texas-based startup Pani aims to shed light on our habitual overconsumption of water. The company today announced a $1 million seed round — led by Blake Chandlee, former vice president of global partnerships at Facebook — which it’ll use to acquire talent and drive product development.
Pani CEO Allen Tsai founded the startup shortly after a 10-day mission trip to Nepal, where he helped build water wells in rural villages. (Pani means “water” in Nepalese.) The company’s long-term vision is to fund the distribution of potable water to communities in need, he said.
Another source of inspiration was nonprofits like Scott Harrison’s Charity: Water, which since 2006 has raised $300 million for more than 28,000 water projects in remote regions of the world.
“The epiphany I had was that, in addition to monitoring usage, we need innovations around filter technology and plumbing topology that together can proactively help people reduce water usage while recycling water that has been used,” Tsai said. “A step-functional increase in the monitoring intelligence, efficiency, and recycling capabilities of our water appliance is required for us to reduce our dependency on a centralized water authority.”
Pani will generate the bulk of its revenue from sales of smart water meters and sensors, which attach to traditional plumbing fixtures to collect real-time household water usage data. Companion apps will apply a layer of intelligence to that data, providing an overview of consumption, identifying the biggest usage waste culprits (e.g., showers, toilets, faucets), and giving personally tailored recommendations, like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving, which can save 8-10 gallons of water a day.
Early units will be available for pilot partnerships with select manufacturing partners this year and will ship to customers in early 2019.
“At the residential level, water sustainability and resiliency can be achieved through a combination of increased appliance efficiency and ‘de-centralized’ water processing,” Tsai said. “This funding will allow us to develop low-cost, yet beautiful and easy-to-install consumer products that will give people and the utilities that serve them unprecedented insights into how people use water in their homes. Our vision is that more water efficient/self-reliant homes are the most scalable way to secure the future of our water supply.”