Halifax’s Drinkable Water is opening pre-orders for its on-the-spot water quality testing device with deliveries scheduled to begin next April.
The launch comes as Drinkable looks to raise a $350,000 funding round to extend its runway while Chief Executive Matthew Mizzi and his small team focus on commercialization. The company has bagged commitments for about half the raise.
Drinkable’s device is smaller than a smartphone, costs $100 with testing cartridges selling for $10, and tests water for about a dozen common contaminants, such as lead, arsenic and uranium. (That will rise to about 25 contaminants in versions 2 or 3.) You can pre-order the device here. Mizzi’s team developed it with the help of researchers from Cape Breton University.
“We guide anyone, regardless of their education level, through a very simple process,” said Mizzi in an interview. “We'll help you identify, quantify what’s in your water, how that might impact your health in the short and long term, and what you can do to treat and remedy that problem.
“We’ll have a tailored treatment recommendation plan for you.”
His planned beachhead market is people whose homes use well water. The water’s purity has to be monitored to ensure it does not pose a health hazard, but conventional testing involves costly laboratory services and results printouts that can be confusing for lay people.
Drinkable’s system is reliable enough for real world applications, he said. It also categorizes contamination as either a minor or serious and immediately pressing health hazard — a level of analysis not always offered by labs because it requires consideration of numerous factors, such as the acidity of the water.
Users can view a simplified result on a screen integrated into the device or a more comprehensive readout via a smartphone app.
Mizzi said feedback from investors has been that Drinkable’s testing technology is significantly more advanced than competitors raising money at higher valuations.
He added that, while well water testing offers an initial commercialization opportunity, Drinkable’s eventual target market is much broader.
He and a one-time collaborator previously attempted to come up with an idea for a business that would address the systemic problem of unsafe water on First Nations reserves. He believes they ultimately failed because the cost and complexity of water testing made their ideas unscalable.
Mizzi said the process taught him that water-quality is a pain point for a dizzying array of industries, ranging from aquaculture, to swimming pools, to real estate in rural communities.
“We have all sorts of pilot projects in schools in the U.S. and minority communities in the Halifax, Nova Scotia region,” he said.
“So we're kind of coming in here with something that we could license out and white label across many industries, all while we focus on drinking water. Or it could just be something where we have one device with our logo on it.”
Drinkable is also part of the current cohort of CDL Atlantic — the local arm of international startup accelerator Creative Destruction Lab. The program is competitive and milestone-based, with teams required to demonstrate traction in order to continue receiving mentorship from industry luminaries.