Drinking tap water, whilst convenient, is not to everyone’s taste – especially if you are unsure what else is in it apart from each molecule containing one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms.
As a result, millions of us across the world, despite access to clean water, prefer the reassurance of labelled mineral water from shops.
But the generic chemical composition of bottled water, environmental impact and cost to drinkers felt entirely wrong to industrial engineer Alex Yunus Mahé.
Spurred on by experiences in his homeland of Turkey and time spent in the Middle East, Qatar, “where there’s always this problem where people don’t use tap water, everybody has these big dispensers”, Alex set about creating a sustainable 21st Century solution for domestic use here in the UK.
With backing from venture builder Startup Giants plc, which supports entrepreneurs with visas and business acumen to bring their ideas to life, the concept of personalised mineral water has been turned into commercial reality.
Alex, the CEO and founder of London-based hardware start-up Sküma, has launched a compact countertop water system for households.
Using a clever reverse osmosis (RO) process to filter contaminants, by forcing water at high pressure through microscopic mesh filters, the water dispenser purifies and remineralises – at various temperatures up to 95°C.
Customers can use different mineral concentrates or supplements to target chemical deficiencies in their bodies, such as ‘sunshine’ vitamin D in low-light winter countries or magnesium which helps regulate our body systems.
Alex said: “We live in an age of customisation, from best-match viewing and listening lists on Netflix and Spotify to the way we are targeted by adverts based on our internet browser history.
“Yet tap water in our home kitchens hasn’t flowed fast enough to catch up with the smart revolution.
“The concept of mineralisation in tap water isn’t new – nearly 6 million people receive fluorinated water in the UK to reduce tooth decay – but few give a second thought to what other health-giving minerals can be provided when having a drink.
“We are now in a digital healthcare era where mineral deficiencies in our bodies can be identified and targeted through bespoke drinking water.
“There’s also a significant environmental aspect to all of this – 481.6 billion plastic water bottles are reportedly used each year globally.
“Many people without access to clean water have no choice, but for households with clean water supplies there is a chance to radically reduce plastic waste.
“Coffee drinkers benefit too – mineral water with the right formula of magnesium and calcium provides reliability and consistency of taste.”
He added: “We’re very thankful to CEO Jeb Buckler at Startup Giants, who put us in touch with an investor who owns a water purification company in Hong Kong. This has made our life a million times easier.
“It’s been a year now and we’ve spoken in some way every day to problem-shoot and develop our idea. It’s meant that we can execute at a cheaper cost than the competition. It’s phenomenal to have somebody on board that we trust and respect.”
Jeb Buckler is CEO of Startup Giants, which supports 60 pre-seed tech and manufacturing ventures across the UK, working nationally with its HQ in London.
He said: “Sküma has made the act of turning tap water in any country into personalised mineral water accessible for millions of households and businesses, using patented technology and leveraging off Startup Giants’ know-how and international contacts.
“Not only does Sküma reduce demand for single-use plastic water bottles, it also eradicates the significant water waste which is a by-product of the purification process.
“Sküma is an example of the kind of thing we do – backing successful start-ups, having first sifted through thousands of applications a year to hone down on only a few entrepreneurs with commercially viable concepts.”
Jeb added: “Such is the market interest from investors, following our seed capital, a subsequent fundraising round by Alex on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo sold out. Alex can now go into production, delivering units in 2022.
“Perhaps, in the years to come, Alex will be able to sit down with his family in the Middle East and drink water from his device, rather than having to rely on imported water dispensers and the carbon footprint that comes with it.”
The Sküma product starts at £245 for the starter package.
- High recovery rate – 85% purified water production efficiency
- Easy to install – virtually no installation required
- Filtering process is very quick, literally minutes, compared to distilling which can take hours to produce a small amount
- Water can come out cold or on a selected temperature for either tea or coffee
- Minerals added – a combination of naturally sourced magnesium, potassium and other electrolytes are added directly into the purified water
- Super-filter – the system promotes a single filter that requires change only once a year, making the device one of the most user-friendly currently on the market.
- Water requires regular emptying – but no downside as the waste liquid can used for plants.
Notes to reporters:
Startup Giants, founded by CEO and Chairman Jeb Buckler in 2015, is accredited by the Home Office as an endorsing body for the UK Startup and Innovator Visa categories.
This enables Startup Giants to source investment opportunities globally and directly to sponsor foreign entrepreneurs from non-EU countries to bring their innovation to the UK.
Support is provided over several years to facilitate growth, including help with future capital raising.
In a legal agreement with founders who require funding at pre-seed stage to get their innovations off the ground, investors can get in early on new innovations being brought to life.
Startup Giants is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, accredited by Home Office and is listed on the Aquis Stock Exchange Growth Market, a recognised investment exchange under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
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