Earth Fokus, a Chennai-based IIT-Madras incubated startup, is in the business of saving water.
Established in 2017, the startup made its mark by launching two varieties of nozzles made of brass—EcoMist and QuaMist. These devices, when attached to a tap inside a kitchen or washroom, help save up to 95 percent of the water that would otherwise get wasted in the process of washing your hands or cleaning your utensils.
Despite selling 35,000 units of EcoMist in just 2019 and garnering a lot of general praise for QuaMist, many consumers passed on a plethora of feedback on how to make these nozzles more consumer friendly.
When business was slow during the COVID-induced nationwide lockdown last year, Earth Fokus used their spare time to review the feedback received and actively work on implementing new design changes.
What emerged was EcoMist Umbrella, which saves less water (90 percent) than its previous avatar, but works even with low water pressure. Made of a higher grade of lead-free brass (Eco Brass), the EcoMist Umbrella converts the standard output of water flowing from a tap to a unique umbrella flow. This nozzle offers users with a little more water to wash their hands or face, and allows them to spend less time over the sink, claims Earth Fokus.
To sum up, instead of the fine mist in the first version, users now experience an umbrella mist which expands as they bring their hands close to the tap. The splashing issue has been completely solved and the nozzle now works well even in buildings with very low water pressure. The startup has even been coming out with different sizes as well.
Another product that emerged out of the pandemic was the QuaMist 360. This “comes with an adjustable setting which enables you to turn the nozzle at a 360 degree angle.” All these nozzles are designed for standard size taps and can be fitted to other sizes via adaptors.
“Both our earlier products were very engineered. We never had the chance to test them extensively with our customers and get their feedback. Although the feedback we received was largely good, our customers told us that the fine mist was generating too little water for their liking. This feeling was particularly expressed during the pandemic, when people felt that a stronger stream of water than mist could clean the germs off their hands or kitchen vessels, vegetables, etc.,” says CEO Arun Subramanian, speaking to The Better India.
How did this feedback playout in the newer models of their more popular products—QuaMist 360 and the EcoMist Umbrella? Suffice it to say, this took a lot of research work.
“The earlier version of the QuaMist came in two modes—jet and mist. We first developed a newer version of the QuaMist, which comes in mist and shower mode. Mist mode converts the water into a fine mist which reduces water flow from 8 LPM (Litres Per Minute) to under 0.4 LPM, making it apt for hand washing and saving up to 95 percent water. Shower mode, on the other hand, reduces water flow from 10 LPM to 1.5 to 2 LPM, saving 85 percent water with each wash. This is used when a more thorough wash is required. In addition to all these properties, the newer QuaMist 360 enables you to turn the nozzle at a 360 degree angle, hence making it more accommodating for washing vegetables and vessels. A single Quamist 360 nozzle can save close to 50,000 litres of water in a year,” claims Arun.
Admittedly, the water saving capacity has come down a little bit, but users still end up saving a lot.
However, they did manage to reduce the price a little as well – from Rs 550 (EcoMist) to Rs 499 for the EcoMist Umbrella.
Launched in January 2021, nearly 8,000 units of the EcoMist Umbrella have been sold. Earth Fokus is currently testing it in the Bengaluru international airport. These nozzles are particularly useful for commercial establishments.
For example, the earlier version of the EcoMist helped a large multinational like Cognizant India save close to Rs 45 crore annually by saving water and the energy associated with delivering it, while investing just Rs 10 lakh in buying nozzles. Earlier, the company needed 100 tankers each day to fulfil their water requirements for all their facilities in India. After installing EcoMist nozzles in 2019, the company barely needed 10 tankers. Beside saving water, these nozzles can help reduce a company’s overall carbon footprint.
Prakash Patil, a Pune-based consulting civil engineer, who has previously assisted in water supply and road building projects, bought both the EcoMist and QuaMist 360 back in June 2020, while looking for water saving devices for domestic use.
“Until October end, we didn’t have to buy water thanks to these devices. The QuaMist 360 was particularly useful for washing hands, vegetables and other items. Subsequently, I also bought the EcoMist Umbrella, which I liked very much as well. In fact, I suggested to Arun that a naturopathy clinic located near our home could use these nozzles. After pitching it to them on Arun’s behalf, the entire clinic attached these nozzles to their taps. They are close to saving 50,000 litres of water every month thanks to this device,” says Prakash.
Besides markets like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kerala and Delhi, Earth Fokus is looking to expand its reach in Tier-2 cities like Coimbatore, small towns and villages. They have expanded their customer base to foreign markets like Norway, Poland, UAE and Australia. Their products are currently being manufactured by third party players in Chennai and Jamnagar, Gujarat. Its ultimate objective is to help save 1 billion litres of water every day by the end of 2025, and Arun claims that he’s making a count of how much his devices save.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)