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This Bengaluru-based startup is making the case for non-drinking water tap filters

Founded in 2014, WaterScience develops filters for non-drinking water, and claims to save as much as 70 percent of the water for non-drinking consumption.

This Bengaluru-based startup is making the case for non-drinking water tap filters

Wednesday May 25, 2022 , 4 min Read

Nearly a decade after working in the corporate sector, Pavithra Rao took the entrepreneurial plunge to help Bengaluru-based startup WaterScience grow past its zero-to-one stage. 

After completing electronics engineering from BITS Pilani, and securing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) from IIM Ahmedabad, Pavithra worked at Philips Lighting for almost a decade, rising through the ranks across sales and marketing roles. 

In December 2018, Pavithra quit her role as a market research professional, which she fulfilled for the entirety of the company's lighting business. 

Pioneering water-saving filtration

Think filtered water, and one is likely to picture RO purifiers for drinking water. Pavithra says almost every household in India would be very cautious in setting up an RO purifier for drinking water but rarely consider filtering the tap waters for daily use. 

WaterScience is making a case for clean non-drinking water as well. After all, as much as 97 percent of water consumption in India is for non-drinking purposes like cleaning, bathing, and laundry.

Founded in 2014 by Pavithra’s husband Sudeep Nadukkandy and serial entrepreneur Mohammad Iqbal, it offers a range of shower and tap filters for non-drinking water, and claims to design and manufacture India’s only water-saving filter. Its easy-to-fit filters claim to save as much as 70 percent of the water used. 

A digital-first brand, WaterScience offers 26 different types of filters and cartridges with prices for the latter starting from Rs 500.

This includes an aromatherapy shower filter with an opening for essential oil pads – the design for this is patented. 

Having sold to over 400,000 customers so far, its products are available on its website and Amazon.  WaterScience also retails the product through a network of 2,500 stores across Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, and Delhi-NCR.  The retail presence contributes to 25 percent of its total sales.


Sudeep Nadukkandy, Pavithra Rao and Mohammed Iqbal, Co-founders of WaterScience

How does it work?

Pavithra explains that water in India, especially in cities like Noida, Bengaluru, and parts of Delhi, is very hard due to the presence of particles like sediment, chlorine added to kill microorganisms, iron, and calcium and magnesium salts. Such water even leaves behind white stains on tiles and taps. 

WaterScience’s cartridges, which need to be changed every six months, release chemicals that help soften the hard water. 

“When water passes through our filtration media, the cartridge releases chemicals that form a coating around the calcium ions and makes the water less aggressive. Although they still remain in water, it is in a form that is harmless to you,” she says, adding that WaterScience is now working to develop products that can filter iron.

Notably, the non-drinking water filter is also uniquely attracting skin and haircare enthusiasts as the filtered water makes the products work more effectively on skin and hair.

Navigating the market

Being an early entrant in the market, the startup enjoys a dominance in the market for filtering non-drinking water. 

“Our competitors in filtering non-drinking water are sellers who are importing filters manufactured in China, and not products designed in-house,” she adds. 

Pavithra says the key difference is WaterScience filters are designed keeping in mind the need of Indian consumers and water quality, while Chinese manufacturers design for western countries. When these products are imported for use in India, they do not work efficiently against India’s hard water.

WaterScience claims to have witnessed 30 to 40 percent year-on-year growth in revenue. While the pandemic did slow down the growth, the company has remained profitable. Between 2022 and 2027, the Indian water purifier market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.27 percent, according to IMARC. 

Pavithra says the challenge ahead of them is creating awareness around the effects of hard water. The company aims to clock Rs 100 crore by 2024.   

Edited by Anju Narayanan