Czech firm aims to go global with water saving device
A Brno-based firm believes that a simple device they have designed could conserve major amounts of drinking water. The company, aptly named Watersavers, produces a faucet aerator which reduces water consumption by up to 80 percent while creating the illusion of a full water flow. After years of development and marketing, the firm has gained a foothold on Czech and some European markets, and is now looking to expand around the globe. I sat down with Watersavers’ business development manager Martin Procházka, and first asked him how the device worked.
How does the device reduce the water flow?
“These aerators have special reduction rings which can be set to various flow rates, from 4 to 12 or 14 litres per minute. That’s the thing that we have patented, and our company is the only one in the world that has this technology.
“The very strong aeration makes the flow rate seem stronger. People want comfort, at home or in the hotels or wherever, and our motto is, ‘Save without losing comfort’.”
It does seem a very simple idea. When and how did you come up with it?
“It is a simple idea, and there are other firms that produce various types of saving aerators. The founder of the company, and its business director, Radomír Bozek, got the idea around the year 2005. He was looking at various aerators and thought they could be improved and given extra functions, and he started developing a new model that would be better than those already on the market.”
Can people just buy it and put it on their kitchen or bathroom taps?
“Yes, they can because the same faucets, toilets and showers are in people’s homes as well as in hotels, hospitals, offices, factories, and so on. The aerator is universally designed for all of them.”
How much water can be conserved using the device?
When did you start producing these saving aerators?
“The production was launched in 2007. Before then, however, we worked very hard on the development of the product; we cooperated with the South Moravian Innovation Centre which facilitates contacts between universities and research institutions and the private sector. But the production started in 2007.”
How successful have you been so far?
“Setting up the business and going ahead with sales was very hard. I think the Czech Republic has this problem that when you come up with something new and good, people don’t understand it and don’t believe it. Many people aren’t happy that a Czech company, a family firm in that, can be successful.”
They aren’t happy?
“No, they are not. I think this an issue in the Czech society. We tend to be very pessimistic and unhappy about the success of others.”
“But in 2007 when Mr Bozek started making and selling these products, it took some two or three months before the first sale. Our first customer was a small school in south Moravia. It has taken off since then and we have now become a well-known and successful brand.”
So how many of these innovative aerators do you sell a year?
“We rely mainly on foreign markets because the Czech Republic is small. We sell around 10,000 or 15,000 pieces a year. In the past several years, we have been focusing on foreign markets and today, our biggest market is Russia as well as several EU countries.”
“This was our second mission to India. It was successful in that we had meetings with various government bodies in some states of the Indian federation, as well as with some industry groups in these states.
“We’ve had problems on this market because everything takes a long time and you need a good partner there. So I think it will take a lot of work in the next two or three years but I’m very optimistic; we are now maybe a month or so away from closing a deal there.”
Many companies are cautious about Asian markets, and China in particular, due to the relatively low protection of intellectual property there. With as simple an idea as this, aren’t you concerned about this?
“The Chinese market is a problem for us. I get emails all the time from Chinese producers of showers, faucets, and so on. But we are concerned about the copyright issues because the situation there in this respect is difficult.”
Have you registered any attempts to copy your product?
“No, none so far.”
Where can people get these water savers, and how much do they cost?
“People can buy them in our e-shop, from our partners and also from our sales representatives. We have about 35 of them now in the Czech Republic. And the price for end customers is about 10 euros a piece.”
“We want to develop the market in the Czech Republic. Abroad, we are focusing on oversees such as the US, Mexico as well as South America. We are very interested in North African markets as well, for instance Tunisia and Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries like the UAE, as well as Israel. We basically focus on countries that have issues with drinking water supplies.”
The episode featured today was first broadcast on July 2, 2014.