This mother-son duo aims to reduce plastic waste, provide sustainable water solutions

Founded in 2015 by Vibha Tripathi and Advait Kumar, Boon, a watertech startup, serves more than 300 clients and more than five lakh people on a daily basis.

This mother-son duo aims to reduce plastic waste, provide sustainable water solutions

Friday October 06, 2023,

5 min Read

India’s annual plastic waste is about 3.3 million metric tonnes, according to The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

According to the UN, only 9% of global plastic waste is recycled and most of it ends up in the water bodies so much so that research has shown oceans will have more plastic than fish by 2050. A State University of New York study, part of Orb Media's project, has found that microplastics have contaminated about 93% of the surveyed water.

Internet-of-Things (IoT) enabled global water-tech startup Boon (formerly known as Swajal) is trying to solve these two problems at once: Reduce plastic waste and improve access to clean water.

Mother-son duo Vibha Tripathi and Advait Kumar founded Boon in 2015. The Gurugram and Singapore-based startup offers drinking water solutions to communities, rural areas, hospitality players, corporate firms, and others.

To maintain its large fleet of dispersed treatment plants, Boon developed its patented IoT platform, Clairvoyant.

“The technology was later adapted to hotels and offices. This led to the Zero Mile Water concept, which replaces plastic water bottles with sustainable glass bottles,” Kumar tells YourStory.

Boon operates on a B2B and B2G (business-to-government) model with 60% of its business coming from the hospitality sector, 30% from corporate, and 10% from its WaterATMs—a solar-powered self-service water refilling solution.

The startup has a presence in 17 states with an R&D centre in Gurugram. Its teams are spread across Mumbai, Pune, Dehradun, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru.

It serves more than 300 clients and more than five lakh people on a daily basis. Boon’s charges are variable and can go from less than one lakh to several lakhs.

Boon is currently growing at 4X YoY and is expecting to generate Rs 35 crore in FY23-24 and close to 90 crore next year. It also plans to enter the B2C space with a home water purification solution. 

The beginning

Boon began its journey as Swajal, with the development of the WaterATM. The company deployed these WaterATMs in villages that are suffering from bad water quality or shortage of water. 

Addressing the diverse water challenges in different regions, Boon has installed hundreds of WaterATMs in villages in states such as Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. 

The company has collaborated with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to provide clean drinking water across railway stations in the country. 

It works in partnership with government agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology, Trade Development Board and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to provide affordable drinking water to communities in need.

In the near future, the startup plans to provide clean drinking water to underserved communities in Africa and the Sub-Saharan region. 

IoT-enabled water solutions

Boon's AI-enabled IoT water purification platform Clairvoyant helps stakeholders track, customise, and analyse drinking water around the clock. Boon water purifiers and dispensers monitor water quality and quantity in real-time, ensuring clean water. 

AI tools assess equipment health, suggest maintenance tips, and sterilise containers using WaterOZO Technology. It collects data from purifiers that is used for future improvements in designs.

The startup offers three product lines—WaterSense, WaterCube and ZeroMileWater. 

WaterSense uses predictive analytics and AI for water use monitoring and forecasting. WaterCube uses Boon's AI-based purifier to filter without plastic waste or carbon emissions, while ZeroMileWater uses Made-in-India machines to deliver water within zero miles.

“The system reduces transportation costs and delivers a high-quality, bespoke experience by allowing partners and customers to purify water on site and use automated filling machines to sanitise glass bottles,” adds Kumar.

Boon utilises IoT technology to improve the visibility and functionality of its machines. By integrating water dispensers with IoT devices, technicians receive real-time information, enabling simultaneous maintenance scheduling. 

“It also aids in pre-emptive machine servicing, ensuring zero downtime. Operators can supervise multiple machines, while a single service engineer handles a large number of machines,” he adds.

Through its NetZero Water Initiative, Boon says it is able to replace 22 plastic bottles every minute. 

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The startup says its water purifiers are up to 4X more efficient than standard purifiers, and can hold up to 3X more minerals.

Through its Zero Mile Water Initiative it has reduced more than 500,000 kilograms of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to the amount absorbed by 26,000 average mature trees in a year.

The market and growth

According to Mordor Intelligence, the India Water and Wastewater Treatment Technologies Market size is expected to grow from $0.92 billion in 2023 to $1.54 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 10.78% during the forecast period (2023–2028).

Boon raised $1.6 million from RVCF Rajasthan Asset Management Company Pvt Ltd (RAMC) through RVCF III - India Growth Fund and a group of investors led by Pramod Agarwal (former CFO P&G, global hair care division). 

The company has a presence across the Middle East, and South Asia, and is looking to expand into Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines to preserve the fragile Asean ecosystem, eliminate plastic waste, and reduce the region's carbon footprint. It plans to strengthen its footprint in international markets.

Boon is eyeing an investment of up to $10 million in the ASEAN region, with an estimated revenue of around $50 million in the next few years.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti