Generating water out of thin air – that’s what Navkaran Singh Bagga, founder and CEO, AKVO Atmospheric Water Systems Pvt Ltd., has been doing with AKVO’s atmospheric water generation technology, in his endeavour to address the water crisis in India
Atmospheric water generation (AWG) technology was probably pioneered in Israel. How did you think of bringing the technology to India and what have been the highlights of AKVO’s journey so far?
In late 2016, as I was reading about Cape Town and its impending water scarcity and with major metros of India running out of ground water along with other natural resources, it dawned upon me that India needed a workable approach in mitigating this crisis. So I embarked upon a completely new, unsung terrain of manufacturing atmospheric water generators for India and Middle Eastern countries. After a lot of research online, I investigated this amazing source of water which is practically untapped. It took us over a year to build our first running machine. Up to now, we have sold over 450 machines worldwide. Some noteworthy highlights: 1. Hardua Mangarh in Damoh region of Madhya Pradesh faced an acute water crisis. The villagers had to climb down a 200-year-old well, just to fetch water. They had to form a human ladder going down the steep well, taking great risk to fetch a bucket of water. During summer, it often dried up, forcing people to migrate from the village. The Public Health & Environment Department of Madhya Pradesh approached AKVO to come up with a solution. Now, after over two years of the installation of the AKVO 365K machine unit there, villagers receive about 1,000 litres of fresh drinking water every day from air. 2. During the summer months of 2019, the Greater Chennai Corporation had installed AKVO atmospheric water generator in its premises on a trial basis. Currently, over 50 machines have been installed in Chennai across schools, residential complexes, private institutions etc. 3. Over 44 AKVO machines have been installed at the Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium, with an order for over 350 more. AKVO atmospheric water systems have also installed their new 300 litre machine at Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority. DP World has already installed their first machine in their Dubai port.
How have your operations grown since you started out in 2017 – what is the company’s topline currently? What is the strength of your user base and distribution network? What kind of competition is there in the market?
We have targeted a topline of Rs 5 crore this financial year. We currently have a user base in eight countries across the world like India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Chile, Philippines, South Africa, ranging from large corporates to governments and households. There are many new players entering the market, but we are the largest, one of the oldest and most established brands in India.
How much does an AKVO machine cost initially and how cost effective is it compared to RO/UV or bottled drinking water?
Our home model AKVO Pod can make up to 50 litres of pure drinking water per day. It is India’s first indigenously manufactured atmospheric water generator. Our AWG technology replicates the natural process of condensation by simulating a dew point, which allows it to make water continuously, even in low humidity conditions. AKVO works on a simple plug and play method and consumes one unit of electricity to run for an hour. Moreover, this water is cheaper than any RO/UV or bottled market water. While the RO/UV filtrated water wastes four litres of water for just one litre of drinking water, AKVO has zero water wastage. Bottled mineral water is available at Rs 4.50 to Rs 5.00 per litre, while ours costs only Rs 1.75 to Rs 2.00 per litre.
Your recent campaign #OwnYourWater literally made waves. Tell us about your brief to The Voice Company for the campaign and the kind of ROI that you have got.
The brief was simple. We wanted our innovative technology to be the highlight. Our aim is to make everyone water independent and change the system. The Voice Company really stood out in how simple the ideas were, and how interesting, from a content perspective. We launched the campaign only in June, hence we don’t have any exact figures yet.
What are your expansion plans going forward? What is the kind of growth you target? What potential do you see in our country with severe water scarcity and beyond it?
We will be adding more Indian metros – Bengaluru, Mumbai, Goa and Kochi, and internationally, we are targeting at least five more countries – USA, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Uganda, to our distribution list. We are also targeting 100% year-on-year growth at least for the next three years. More and more households are looking at our technology to solve the drinking water issues that is prevalent across the country. We need to reduce our dependency on groundwater and look for permanent solutions to the global water crisis.
What is a motto or life mantra that you follow all the time?
I believe that there is no substitute for hard work.