This New York-based cleantech startup aims to create premium drinking water for all

New York-based cleantech startup Kara Water provides clean drinking water solutions to address the growing demand for premium water enriched with minerals free from harmful contaminants usually found in tap water.
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While studying architecture, Cody Sooden came across a beetle that could capture water from the air on its shell and drink it off of its own back to survive in one of the driest deserts in the world. 

This was his Eureka moment. He thought capturing water from the atmosphere could revolutionise drinking water access in residential complexes and businesses globally. 

“I ended up writing a research paper on vapour harvesting, which became the starting point for Kara Water. Over the years, Kara Pure has evolved into a product that fits nicely into a home, all the while providing top-quality drinking water,” says Cody. 

The New York-headquartered startup — founded in 2017 by Michael Di Giovanna and Cody — provides clean drinking water solutions to address the growing demand for premium water enriched with minerals free from harmful contaminants usually found in tap water. 

“The need for safe and innovative drinking water technology is at an all-time high due to the detrimental effects of RO systems on the environment. Our first product, Kara Pure, is the world’s first 9.2+ pH air-to-water dispenser that sources water directly from the air and infuses it with rare minerals to make it proper for the human body,” explains Cody. 

The product 

Essentially, Kara Pure is an air moving technology, and to understand this, the startup conducted a third-party laboratory test of its air purification capabilities, and the results were astounding. 

“We discovered that Kara Pure was also a powerful air purifier due to its innovative air heating technology that can achieve temperatures that can virtually kill all germs and airborne viruses in a 300 sq ft space,” Cody tells YourStory

However, building a brand overseas needs a nuanced understanding of the international customers and their culture to adapt the brand to suit the localised audience. 

“For Kara Water’s launch in India, we partnered with local businesses and organisations to build local contacts. We started with an accelerator hosted by Columbia Global Center, Mumbai, to understand the nitty-gritty of running a business in India. We are working with an outsourced services provider, DCF. We also collaborated with marketing agency Chimp&z Inc to get nuanced knowledge on launching a brand in India,” says Cody. 

Team and background

Michael and Cody have known each other for 25 years, and have had a shared goal of launching a business together. Michael served in the US Air Force as a bio-environmental technician that attended mass water contamination sites. 

Cody, on the other hand, grew up with severe bacteria in his home well, affecting his family’s health. After discovering these issues pertained to contaminated drinking water, his family solely relied on bottled water for 10 years.

“Michael and I were both intrinsically aware of the dangers of consuming contaminated groundwater and believed that vapour harvesting could help people who are facing what we had experienced,” explains Cody.  

The co-founders believe in a lean startup and have grown the team to five highly-talented individuals. The startup has partnered with two manufacturing facilities and two marketing agencies.

Market size 

According to reports, the global drinking water market was valued at over $2.45 billion in 2020, expected to touch $4.08 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 7.5 percent. Some of the startups in this sector include Airowater and esharawater. 

Many, if not all its competitors use refrigerant-based technology — a known ozone-depleting chemical to capture water from the air. However, Kara Pure uses an air-to-water dispenser, which uses desiccant technology similar to volcanic rocks to naturally capture water in the air. 

“Our biggest differentiator is our ability to kill airborne viruses and germs in the air because desiccants require hot air instead of cold,” explains Cody. 

The startup sells Kara Pure for Rs 135,000 and offers EMI services that allow customers to pay in monthly installments. 

Workings of the product 

Kara Pure uses zeolite, a microporous crystalline substance, which captures water molecules in the air through tiny pores. 

First, the water molecules and zeolite are heated using desiccant technology, which kills 99.99 percent of viruses and bacteria. Then, the water enters a reservoir, where the drinking water is infused with health benefiting minerals. It is then ionised to produce water with a pH of 9.2+, also known as alkaline water, giving it an ultra-smooth profile. The water inside the Kara Pure is constantly circulated over a UV light, ensuring freshness.

“Alkaline water promotes an alkaline environment inside the human body. Kara Pure’s rare mineral profile can promote bone strength, boost immunity, regulate blood pressure, aid digestion, and also improve skin health,” adds Cody. 

Bootstrapped since inception, Kara Water entered into a clean technology accelerator. It won the Columbia Venture Competition Urban Innovation Challenge: India, kicking off its external fundraising, getting access to local Indian partners, and a launchpad in Mumbai. 

It has since raised funds from friends and family and continues to do so.

Speaking of the startup’s future plans, Cody says, “We wish to make air-water mainstream in India, reducing our dependence on groundwater to make way for a sustainable future. While we’re focused on creating an impact in the densely populated financial heart of India, we plan on expanding to other Tier I and II cities across India soon.”

Edited by Suman Singh

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