Name: Twothirds Water
Short Pitch: Extremely simple water treatment for the developing world.
Description: Twothirds Water is a for-profit startup that makes Tapp – an extremely simple household water filter for families in developing countries. Our CEO used to be an aid worker, and he struggled to deploy unnecessarily complicated water filters in extremely challenging environments. Tapp is much easier to use, saving the charities time and money, and increasing their impact. We are particularly interested to work with corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects, because funding a Tapp deployment through a grass-roots charity makes for fantastic PR, and it is a big win for everyone involved.
Headquarters: Vancouver, Canada
Traction: Currently ramping up production to fulfill ~$150,000 of pre-orders from charities that will run pilot projects with Tapp in various countries.
Mission: Twothirds Water exists to get a billion more people safe drinking water.
Interview with Bradley Pierik (Co-Founder):
1. How did you come up with the idea for Tapp?
In 2009 I was living in the Philippines, advising a group of charities on their water projects. Just days after I moved back to Canada a huge typhoon hit Manila, submerging the city of twelve million people with more than a meter of brown water. The charities asked me how they could get safe drinking water to the victims, and all the options I could give them were just too complicated to work in such a difficult situation. I recommended some filters, but they couldn’t teach all the people how to use them. I had training materials translated, but they had no way to print them, much less keep them dry. We had no good options; it was a complete mess, and the survivors were really struggling.
So I became obsessed with creating a water filter that is so simple you can just hand out. While I was in graduate school I spent my evenings building prototypes, and I would test them when I traveled for my research or my part-time work with other charities. During the deadly cholera epidemic that followed the Haiti earthquake, one of these prototypes kept me healthy for weeks in some of the worst hit areas. Kevin Reilly joined me and we bought a 3D printer to iterate the design even faster. After dozens of revisions and testing in seven countries, we had created Tapp. We decided to use a for-profit business structure to take Tapp to market, because this will let us grow faster.
2. Why did you pick the name Twothirds Water?
Our bodies are two-thirds water and the surface of Earth is two-thirds water.
3. What is your vision for this company?
The World Health Organization says that HALF of the world’s hospitalizations are caused by waterborne disease. We plan to change this.
4. What separates Twothirds Water from its competitors?
Simplicity. We are obsessed with making water filters that are much simpler to deploy. This makes the charities’ job significantly easier, so they can get higher uptake and sustained use. All aid workers understand the importance of simplicity, and we find that they “get it” right away when we show them Tapp.
5. What do you look for when hiring employees?
Values-fit, passion, and an inhuman ability to get things done. We can teach the rest.
6. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
We are all so passionate about building a great company that gets safe drinking water to a whole lot of people. It’s much easier to feel motivated when the impact is so concrete.
7. What is the greatest lesson you have ever learned?
Sometimes you have to create the thing you want to be a part of.
8. Which prominent entrepreneurs have influenced your career the most?
I have some amazing personal mentors who have invested in me far beyond what is reasonable (particularly a fellow named Bob Dell), and I can’t speak of them highly enough. But in terms of household names, I feel like I’ve learned a lot recently from Richard Branson’s and Nelson Mandela’s biographies.