e@UBC Venture Case Studies is an ongoing series highlighting top ventures from our fully integrated programs. Check out more e@UBC ventures here.
Shining a light on advanced water purifiers
Acuva is developing cutting edge Ultra-Violet Light Emitting Diode (UV-LED) based water purification technology for drinking water applications. The company’s ultimate goal is to enable effective water purification for off-the-grid, mobile applications and remote communities where clean water is scarce and current water purification technologies are too expensive or too electricity intensive.
Initially Acuva focused on the Indian Railway, a government owned transportation system, to improve water quality and access for their train stations. The team quickly realized however the need to choose a market that would yield nearer term cash flow to fund early stage product development and design.
“We had struggled to focus on one market because there are many opportunities to choose from in water purification,” said Manoj Singh, CEO of Purus. “Our technology is smaller and less energy intensive than incumbent technologies, but we still needed to define a tangible near-term market.”
Acuva’s target market problem also affected their chances of gaining investment and slowed their technical and business progress. Acuva joined the e@UBC Accelerator to solve these problems and jump start their venture.
The e@UBC Accelerator gave Acuva the framework and focus to test their business hypotheses with customer segments who valued portability and efficiency. The findings from these interviews led Acuva to a customer segment they had previously not considered, the recreational boat market.
“The boating market Acuva validated is viable and will allow them to get first hand knowledge of the benefits and disadvantages of their technology and product,” said e@UBC Mentor Roger Flowerdew. “This will assist them in ongoing product design, marketing, sales processes and programs.”
Acuva interviewed over 30 pleasure boat owners in the e@UBC Accelerator program and worked with e@UBC mentors to develop a go-to-market strategy for the near future.
“After interviewing boat owners we realized it is a very tech savvy community and they were eager for a purifier that used lower wattage. We came out of the e@UBC Accelerator program with an out of the box application that could be bulit, knowing customers would buy it,” said Singh.
Acuva has been hard at work developing their product as well as continuing their customer discovery and validation for the recreational boat market. The team recently received an IRAP grant and investment from the e@UBC Seed Fund as initial investment. Acuva has also expanded their team, hiring two full time engineers to work on the prototype and one MBA intern for market research. The Acuva team just secured office and lab space at Discovery Parks and plan to launch their beta product to customers in early 2016.