with 🎙️ Ramzi Bouzerda, CEO and founder of Droople
💧 Droople is a Swiss cleantech building the Internet of Water, with the aim of making the world aware that water matters.
What we covered:
🍎 How the Water Industry’s digitization’s efforts focus on the water grid but totally forget the last mile
🍏 How more than 36 billion water assets may be digitized and create a wealth of data…
🧮 … and how turning this data into insight will be the foundation stone of the Internet of Water
🍏 How the Internet of Water may open new opportunities such as predictive maintenance or resource efficiency
🍎 How most digitization efforts address a very conservative portion of the market and hence can only be incremental
🧮 How water takes suddenly much more value around its point of use, and how utilities shall take a share of that benefit
🍎 How the increased urbanization rate creates new water challenges
🍏 How water and energy savings only are the tip of the benefits iceberg of last-mile digitization
🍏 How digital tools have to be able to cross-leverage each other and how Droople’s sensor agnostic approach helps to that extent
🪃 How Droople fully knows where their maximum added value is (creating insights) and is not (building sensors)
🍏 How they build an IOT device that you can leave self-powered for ten years (and what that unfolds)
🍏 Switzerland as a start-up nation, the purpose of working in the Water Sector, building a monster, innovation, risk-taking… and so much more!
🔥 … and of course, we concluded with the 𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙙 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙦𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨 🔥
Teaser: the Internet of Water
🔗 Have a look at Droople’s website
🔗 Come say hi to Ramzi on LinkedIn
is on Linkedin ➡️
Infographic: the Internet of WaterRamzi-Bouzerda-Droople-Internet-of-Water-Infographic
Quotes: the Internet of WaterRamzi-Bouzerda-Internet-of-Water-Droople-Quotes
These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂
Get Season 2's Summary!
Antoine Walter: Hi, Ramzi. Welcome to the show.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Hi, Antoine.
Antoine Walter: I’m very happy to have you, because I might be challenging today with you a bit. I have to say, because you’re in a field, which is at the same time, a fascinating field, and also a field where you see a lot of different approaches and usually all those approaches are using the same words.
So I’m going to try to dive a bit beyond the words. So the buzz words for today, IOT smart water, but let’s keep that for up deep dive because right before. I love to start with the postcard and the postcard today comes from Purdue, right?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes, we do. Purdue is in Switzerland, it’s in the French part and maybe one of the beautiful part of Switzerland, because we are protected by UNESCO.
Purdue means in French, fresh water. Well, and, uh, it’s all about water. So for us, it makes totally sense to settle our headquarters.
Antoine Walter: So somehow your headquarter tells what it’s all about. So it’s about this safe, but your path, wasn’t always about water. Let’s start with a weird question. How old is your son?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Oh, I have many sense. So the oldest is 16 and the youngest is, uh, almost.
Antoine Walter: Okay. So I guess your story is about the youngest, right?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes, exactly. The youngest is, may be the first, uh, founder of Droople.
Antoine Walter: So it’s because of him. That’s you’re into the field of
Ramzi Bouzerda: water. Exactly. It’s because of him because I try to feel my baby bottle of name at 3m in my kitchen.
And, uh, I try to feel precisely 300 milliliters of water. I feel too much. And then I filled out a bit, it was too much again, and I made this iteration four times and finally at 3:00 PM, I had a sparkle of intelligence of flight, where I was telling to myself why my first attack can’t help me feel that baby bottle.
Antoine Walter: So that means that’s the elevator pitch to Droople is the clever way to feel a baby bottle.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yeah. The elevator pitch will be connect with your water,
Antoine Walter: connects with the water. I guess we’re going to unbundle that in a minute, but you know, right before you have a typical Swiss bath, Working in a it consulting and of course banking.
Yes. So you made it really right in life. And then at some point you had that weird thing in the middle of the night with your son and say, oh, I want to go to the field of water.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yeah, why it’s interesting because I think it’s echoing with my childhood. I was not born in Switzerland. I was born in Algeria, in Constantine, actually.
It’s a very old city built on the rock and on rivers. And in Constantine 40 years ago, I was six years old. And, uh, we don’t have. Water every day. So you have to secure your water. We have droughts and we were living at the 11th floor of a 12th floor building. So the pressure in the water grid was not high enough to bring water up to the 11th floor, which means that when my mother, my grandmother, we had.
You feel tanks of water. So you have to go down. Of course the lifts doesn’t work by that time. I think it doesn’t work even today. So it means that yeah, you have to go down with your tanks, fill water and lift them up, up to the 11th floor. And actually, if you cannot secure water on a day-to-day basis, your life is not really the same meaning that you will think first about how I can secure that water and everything else is bonus.
Or I would say not really.
Antoine Walter: So the meaning for you to go into water is absolutely clear, but nevertheless, how hard is it to take the plunge? You have a good situation and you say, Steal the meaning is too strong. I have to take the plunge and to become a water entrepreneur. Yeah,
Ramzi Bouzerda: that was a very difficult decision because of course, with four children, a family, a very good salary in, in the banking industry.
That lunch means a lot of sacrifices, but however, my wife helped me make this decision. The purpose of the start-up helped me make this decision. And I think it was also something that was calling me from insights. So how I can reconnect to something that was in my childhood and. Yeah. Making something that has a meaning as a purpose.
Antoine Walter: So you mentioned these purpose. If I get his rights, that is building the internet of water. Yes. That’s
Ramzi Bouzerda: definitions division. Is, is that yeah, because actually, if we look today on how water works, so basically utilities are spending huge amount of. Effort money and infrastructure. So sourcing water from surface water groundwater, bringing it along the water grid up to your tap.
And it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of cost. It’s a lot of maintenance and so on, but at the time, Ultimately the end customer. If he’s not paying attention to what he’s doing with his water, then all those efforts are lost. And there is a very important economic aspect related to that is that the cost of water at the sourcing is maybe the cost of energy for the pumping.
So let’s say. 15 cents per cubic meter. Now you go on the main meter of a building. In Switzerland, let’s say it’s $1 per cubic meter. You will pay that water. Now you go to the point of views and you will see that a softened water with your softening system will cost you more. If you go to a restaurant and buy a watercraft with sparkling water, you will pay 10,000.
More than the basic one that you have paid at $1 per cubic meter. So it means that the same water, the same water that has been brought to that building. Is used and leverage with far more margin for the point of views done for the point of entry. And this economic aspect is very important for me because actually, if we cannot balance this last mile of the water, And with the money with the businesses are doing with, and the utility struggle to bring that water up to them.
We have to balance this margin to make really a change. And that’s the purpose of the internet of water is. Making more transparent, how we use that water on the last mile will benefit ultimately to those utilities that are bringing that water to them. So that
Antoine Walter: means that your playground is that last mile.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes, definitely. It’s where actually we are not able today. It’s very important to understand that we are. Completely blind to what happens after the main water meter of any building, residential, commercial, or industrial. So let’s imagine something you, I give you money, you have a budget, so I give you money.
You are the building. So you receive that water. Let’s say it’s your budget. And you are spending that. For outputs. So let’s say top flush, let’s say appliances, let’s say filtration systems. You use that water, but if we are talking about money, you will know, you would like to know how that money is spent today.
We are not able to say how that water is spent inside the.
Antoine Walter: And does it have consequences today?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes, of course it has. One consequence is that we are not able to predict the maintenance of those water assets of those water endpoints. That’s first consequence. The second one, if you think now about building you have hot water.
Projection and hot water consumption today. We produce hot water without knowing really when someone will use that hot water by connecting the end points, we can connect and provide a feedback loop to that production and reduce by up to 20%, the energy consumption for making.
Antoine Walter: So that means that within this last mile you found, if I got it right, 36 billion water assets, more than the connected, more than that, more than 36 billion, because I was trying to make the math, you
Ramzi Bouzerda: know, service experience let’s make the math.
That’s a very good point. It makes over six
Antoine Walter: per person.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes, but it’s actually more than that. Let’s say now, uh, Xylem McKinsey have made the estimations of what is the main meter market for water. They estimated worldwide that we have roughly 3 billion of water meters. So meaning one meter per building.
Now you take a multi-family building, let’s say with three apartments. You take only three rooms apartments. You have at least seven end points that are consuming water between sanitarys between appliances and maybe filtration systems at least seven. So. You think that seven, you multiply by tree for the number of flats and you have 21.
Water end points in that building. And it’s a very conservative estimate and you multiply that by three and you have actually 63. And we know that if you go in New York city, it’s not three apartments in a building. It’s a tower of, I don’t know how. So that’s the first point. The second one is that by 2050, 70% of the world population will live in cities actually.
And what is completely mind-blowing is that we are building New York city every single month to reach that figure. So basically the number of water assets. On the globe is maybe the biggest internet of things off rather today.
Antoine Walter: It’s very interesting what to just say, because I had Aaron Tartakovsky on that microphone and we were discussing reuse of water within a building.
And he was giving the same statistic that you just shared about this Manhattan, which is built every month. But he was drawing completely different conclusions because he was saying that is the sign that we should be reusing a lot within the building. And that’s the missing piece. Is this reusing the building?
What you’re saying is that there’s a big perspective for utilities to have a better sight of this last mile. I guess it’s not contradictory. It’s just that it’s different approaches.
Ramzi Bouzerda: It’s complimentary, I think because you are totally right on one. Today, the paradox is that in Switzerland, for example, we use potable water to flush our toilets.
Look at this. So think just once again, if I’m in Nigeria now, and I will say to people use potable water for your flush and you don’t have enough water to drink in a day, you will have really troubles to debate on this. Yeah. And now we use actually potable water in Switzerland because we think we have sufficient water for long time, maybe not, but we cannot really continue like that.
We have to reuse that gray water and so on to make a better use of that water.
Antoine Walter: So we have this 36 billion and maybe more assets. Why do they need to be. Yes. Y
Ramzi Bouzerda: that’s a very good question. This last mile, as I said to you, you have a huge ecosystem around those assets, why it is used because first you have the service provider that is selling and maintaining those assets.
So the cost of unplanned maintenance is almost 30% of unplanned maintenance has a huge cost for them. That’s one, the second one. We forget that there are a lot of consumables attached to those water assets. I give you examples. Let’s take a dishwasher. You have tablets related to the use of your dishwasher.
Someone, a player. PNG or others sell those consumables to you because you are using your dishwasher or your washing machine or your filtration system or your toilet. You use. With your toilets, you your, so with your faucet tap and all those objects, all those consumables are intimately related to the use of water at this point of views.
So. The point of views, the water asset is the conjunction is the crossroad for the service provider, the end-user, the consumable reseller. And also of course we forget it. The manufacturer of this water assets and the data you can extract from that water usage in terms of flow. Temperature hardness and other quality parameters will benefit to all this ecosystem.
And I think digitizing those water assets has a huge benefits beyond the simple water usage and savings. So it has a larger impact than that.
Antoine Walter: I guess what you’re hinting to now is that these data can bring a lot. It makes a lot of sense, but that means that this data needs to integrate to something it’s not just about producing data.
It’s about logging that data and maybe doing something about it. What is your approach?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes. And that’s actually comes back to the internet of water because it’s also paradox. Water has a lot of products. It’s a vital resources, very cheap, actually it’s a vital resource and we don’t have. So much data on how we do with that water.
So it’s very interesting and our approach on how we can leverage and how we use that water data is first trying to actually be agnostic from the sensing part, because we think that sensing is important, but it’s not the value of the data. The value of the data is how you can. Correlate the events of that usage within this grid on the last mine, I give you an example today.
Droople is able to assess if someone has washed his hands after using toilets. So we use that simple principle. Four schools, for example, and we are now promoting hand hygiene in schools by equipping restrooms. And we show them live the hygienes core evolving. If they wash their hands after using toilets, if they stop the water flowing while they wash their hands, it goes up.
If they don’t, it goes down the average time of handwash. If it’s high enough. Too low. So bringing data on a single point is interesting, but it’s not really where the added value is. Actually the added value is how you can build this intelligence that is able to correlate what is happening on all the water assets and cross matching those data to actually extract additional insights.
Antoine Walter: translating raw data into insights? Yes. Yes. How’d you do that?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Actually, we, with our intelligence platform, we have developed this small iLink device, which is sensor agnostic, but is able to convert in the first step road data in pre noted. Meaning that we are able to assess. If we had many cycles, a cycle is a one usage of water.
It could be a different land, different flow volume and Swan. And he pre noted those water data before. Sending those data to the cloud and on the cloud, we use different machine learning statistical techniques to actually understand what is happening in that space. Not only on one water asset, but trying to understand actually.
If you have a problem on this water asset, is it affecting other water assets or not? Are we able to determine, for example, if we have a hardness value of water at this point of entry, is it affecting my dishwasher on my appliance? That. In the network or in the grid of that water. So that’s the idea of how making actually insights.
It’s not about just getting the data and showing simple analytics, which is important because we have to understand that, but how we can go to the extra mile and provide. He didn’t insight that will help to understand actually, if someone is using too much water, because he’s actually spending too much time in many assets or something like that.
So that’s, that’s the idea of Droople.
Antoine Walter: Let me take an extreme example just to be sure I get it. So you mentioned this example of someone would be going to the toilet would flush and then goes outside. So you see that there was nothing with the full set, so it wasn’t washing his hands. So level one of digitization would be to say, I have all those values.
On the platform or in a database somewhere. And if someone was to go to the database, he would be able to notice that what you’re saying is that we can do that much better. Instead of that, someone having to look for something, we say, look, we have sorted it out for you. And he didn’t wash his hands. Yes.
You also mentioned something is that you can notice if he’s not shutting down the full sets when he’s washing his hands. And that brings me to my next question, because actually what I would say. Potentially down the road as the next level would be, Hey, you’ve been using the faucet for 20 seconds. I’m pretty sure you N’s are wet.
So let me shut it down for you automatically. And then put it back on after one and a half minutes, which gives you also a strong hints that you should be washing your hands for one and a half minutes. It’s no stupid extreme example, but these actuations. Sounds to be the next frontier.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes, yes. To tell you right here, we are talking about how we can leverage data.
As we today, we don’t have so many data. Once we are able to gather sufficient data and insights, then we can. Go back to the system and say how we can optimize your functions by stopping by reducing the flow rates. And then we enter in a new era of synchronization or occur orchestration. I would say orchestration means if we are able.
Today to predict the hot water consumption for a building or a house. For example, today we are able to do so. We equip all the end points and we are able to in one hour timeframe to tell you if someone will use hot water in terms of volume in terms of period and so on. Now you take those dates. And you give them back to the boiler and then you can launch the boiler and warmup that water, maybe 10 or 30 minutes prior to that predicted use.
And here we enter in a true efficiency about water and energy because they are closely related
Antoine Walter: that’s future. That’s not. Yes.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Future in one, one year or two years close future, at least for Droople. That’s uh, precisely, uh, some R and D projects we are working on right now.
Antoine Walter: Yeah. You say at least for Droople.
So that’s a good opportunity for me to take two steps back. I said, I would challenge some terms and you’ve been using IOT digitization, AI. It sounds to me like today, everybody is trying to do that, or at least everybody is clear. To do that. So it’s a very, very, very crowded markets. And we know that the water industry itself is already very scattered.
So in that very scattered market, everybody is doing that and you come and you say, Hey, I’m doing that as well. Probably better. You’ll tell me, but what makes you different there? Yeah,
Ramzi Bouzerda: actually our uniqueness is first our position. Today all the water industry is focused on the water grid and on providing utilities with AI smart water or IOT and so on, but actually of course, saving water due to leaks in the water grid.
Uh, better. Asset management and Swan provide tangible and value for those utilities. The choice of Droople is that this market is indeed saturated is very conservative, so you can only. Bring innovation with very incremental process. And that’s why Droople have chosen to focus on the last mile because today the last mile, and I’m talking about between the main meter and the end point is a dessert.
So that’s first, second we are today. The only platform I would say that is multi-sensory we can do. Pressure flow harness and much more. We are sensor agnostic. So we are open to onboard new type of sensing. If it makes sense, if there is a business case, actually today, it’s funny, but we have also gas applications where we are not talking about water, but actually we use gas within water applications.
So it’s funny to. That’s the medium is not always water
Antoine Walter: in terms of positioning. You mentioned how everybody’s focusing on the network. And so that makes the reason why you go to that last mile. Nevertheless, on the last mile, you can still have many different positioning. And if we build the full vertical, it can go from the sensors, really hardware sensors up to the food service company in the cloud.
And with all the in-betweens I had that discussion with Meena Sankaran on that microphone and she was saying, Her bets to that extent was to have the food vertical. And if it gets your rights, you have some sensory, zero sensor agnostic, but you also have some sensory in house, but you decided that the core of your value chain was this connected.
And the platform. How did you decide for that?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes, it’s a very good point. Indeed. The full stack positioning is very important because it gives you this ability to create verticals, verticals in different segments. And it’s what we do actually. But we have chosen this approach because we think that making sensors is not our strength.
Our. So we led that to sensor makers manufacturers, and we worked with them to make sure that they will do sensors that use the minimum of energy that are accurate enough for our applications and can talk easily with our IP link. So that’s the first step. And now. Actually we think that today we act as a retrofit player, but we think that in the future, let’s say less than five years, we will talk with manufacturers in order to make Droople insight for water assets.
So. For us the road is to be in the water assets before it’s installation to leverage the power of Droople inside any in building application. What I’d like
Antoine Walter: to explore a bit, is this platform? Yes, because I mean, you weren’t at Aquatech here. Your team was there, but if I got through it, you were on the Swiss pavilion in Dubai, right?
Yes. But if you were walking Aquatech, every single company was having their own website. And showing how, if you use their hardware that integrates into their web platform. And I was thinking, you know, there’s only so much platforms which are using a day and it’s not hundreds. It’s maybe a few on one hand.
So if everybody’s building a sped platform, adults, that everybody will be using all the platforms. But if I get your rights to you, the added value is not so much to go on the web platform and to look at stuff, but to get the insights. So that’s. You’re clever side solution.
Ramzi Bouzerda: I would say the front-end application is something that we let most of the time to our customers.
So today, and even in the future, because actually the front end is most of the time, a relationship that the end customer or the customer that has the relationship with the end user would like to keep. And what we see for Droople is. The power of providing insights that are somewhere written powered by Droople, meaning that we have the ability to compute, leverage and provide insights that others can’t because we have a deep knowledge of the data that is in stake.
And then we can use that service, that Droople service in many contexts. Without having the client facing platform, uh, by itself,
Antoine Walter: that’s the question. We’ll do focus. And then I’ll leave you with that one. But you said that focus on the last mile, the last mile exist in buildings. So building technology and home appliances and hotels and hospitals, I guess, but I think the same kind of issues may exist in industry.
Is it something you look at?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes, indeed. We are looking at because it’s also a, an issue for the industrial, uh, segments. Actually, we, we see that in food and beverage in pharma, in, uh, indifferent industrial segments, actually. And we today are convinced that. This last mile is a real issue because where you have assets that are out of reach for SCADA.
For example, we talk a lot about SCADA, but actually you cannot deploy SCADA for a small facility or for assets that are not fit to be wired than Swan. So. There is a non-covered untapped markets on that for the last mine that goes beyond to the common residential or commercial applications. Yeah, for sure.
Antoine Walter: You’re a B to B company, right? Yes. So who are your customers?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Our customers. I would say we have. Three categories. The first one is filtration system manufacturers or service providers. Let’s say if you names like Corita or in Japan or file leader in, in the UK. So they make sell and maintain filtration systems.
Like you try to find filtration, carbon activated filtration, Aero treatment systems. Yeah. So we retrofit those systems and we provide them predictive maintenance. We enable them with. Automated procurement for the consumables attached to those systems. So if your filter is overdue, then the system order automatically a new cartridge.
If you have a CO2 bottle, It orders automatically a new CO2 bottle to remove any downtime and to renew, uh, remove any inconsistent water quality over the time. That’s one category. Now the other category of customers are facility services companies. They actually clean shared restaurants in commercial moles, in airports, and so on.
Blake Vago, for example, in, in Netherland and this company, we help them to shift from. Time-based cleaning schedule. You, you remember you have this paper sheet when you seen the restaurant, everyone has made the check. And so we removed that and we put a screen, which is able based on the water usage prediction.
Change the way we clean those places. So it’s no more time-based, but affluence based cleaning schedule and their schedule is updated live on the screen. And the cleaning staff scan the QR code to acknowledge that they have followed the cleaning schedule. And you see the way we do that is that we go beyond.
And monitoring water usage. We use water usage as a proxy for human activity for business processes. And that’s the key. And the USB of Droople is going beyond just measuring water usage is how we can use that information for other purposes.
Antoine Walter: What is your business model to do all of that? As it’s sensing as a service, do you sell your island?
How does it work?
Ramzi Bouzerda: It’s a hybrid Tiki business model. I would say first we sell the hardware of course, with the objective to make a very low margin on it. And the value is on the software plan, which could be actually today. We are almost a monthly basis. So you pay as you go. Once you activate the device here, you scan it and register it on the platform.
You attach it to an asset and then you start to pay and you can stop. And that’s it. So the business model is really based on how you can make it easy for them. So we don’t install our hardware, all our customers. Install our hardware by themselves. So we made it very easy on that side. And on the other side on the software, we are very agile and flexible to create modules, or we let them to create their own modules on the platform because we are the engine that is able to processing the data and then we provide them the insights and they do what ever they want with those insights for their.
Antoine Walter: One very simple hardware question about your eye link. Uh, how do you power it?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes, it’s battery operated and that’s the power also of our full stack solution. Is that. Today, it’s the only IOT device battery operated that can last between five and 10 years, depending on the frequency of the data. So this device is patent pending and we have optimized every single piece of code to be such efficient.
In terms of energy consumption in terms of communication capabilities, and also in terms of flexibility and versatility, because we can connect many sensors to one island. It’s not only one. We can connect up to four sensors with one island and fooling those sensors with a single.
Antoine Walter: Okay. So just to be sure I get that one.
Right. So, I mean, if you have, I don’t know, pressure or a temperature, a suspended, so that’s and pH you all collect them to one island. Yes. Yes. Which would still last five to 10 years in battery. Of
Ramzi Bouzerda: course. More you connect sensors, you reduce the battery lifetime, but. With two sensors today, for example, a full setup, we can connect hot water flow and temperature and cold water flow and temperature with one island.
This is the twin version for the faucet tap. You can last between five and 10 years.
Antoine Walter: That sounds. I think I have to discuss with you off the record.
Ramzi Bouzerda: My pleasure.
Antoine Walter: You mentioned customers in Japan, in the UK, in the Netherlands. How worldwide are you today?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Today we cover three continents in, in north America, Europe and Asia.
We have customers in Thailand in Japan. We have. A bit more than a 60 customers. It’s a challenge because. With Laura one technology, you have to be also compatible with us or north America, frequencies, European frequencies and Asia frequencies. This device is with firmware updates can be us compatible, EU compatible or Asia compatible.
That’s also a very important aspect of the IOT landscape, which is very complex.
Antoine Walter: So it’s sensor agnostic, but also somehow region agnostic. Exactly, exactly. Which must simplify the product development, I guess.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Exactly. That was one of the key criteria for our development.
Antoine Walter: I have a very financial question. I was trying to look where you are right now in terms of development of your company.
And so that to close the seed round of 1.5 million Swiss Franc six months ago. Yes. How do you. Oh, let me be very, very blunt and direct here is it’s like VC money that you burn and you want to make a big market share. What is your vision there? Is it like
Ramzi Bouzerda: the IPO? Let’s be Frank. So today, indeed, we have made the first step in terms of fundraise.
We are doing now pre. Uh, of 6 million, a mix of equity and debt for, I would say Q1 2022. So we are now in discussion right now for that. And actually if we manage very well this phase, we should be able to reach the breakeven in 2024. So after that, we should be able to. Raise funding in order to accelerate the growth of the company.
But the ultimate goal is to make Droople in a traded public company, which has, I would say, which will. Some kind of, uh, same setup as Google, for example, with alphabet and different verticals, because we see that our technology will be applied for different segments, not only water and yeah. A huge potential for Droople in terms of developments here.
Antoine Walter: that’s the vision, but what about the path? I mean, I know that’s, I’m repeating that question quite often, but you know, I’m always wondering if hypergrowth is something which works with the water industry. You just close the seeds, you’re preparing a pre-series a and your north star is the IPO, but. You can choose to grow bootstraps or to be winning aggressively the market share
Ramzi Bouzerda: here.
Uh, I would say we, we see an opportunity to make partial exits with. Big players in different segments. Let’s say now Droople has built this full stack technology, but we can apply it in different segments. So let’s say now we would like to get a afraid of filtration, segments. Maybe we are interested to sell that part of the business and continue with the growth, because we would like to make our growth in the real estate segments.
So. The market’s open to us are very large meaning that we either, we would like to keep them all, or we sell part of the business in order to fuel the growth of other biggest market. Second.
Antoine Walter: In your marketing, you were mentioning your Swiss company. I means probably the first adjective that comes and, you know, I’m, I’m working for a Swiss company.
So I get the feeling, you know, it’s also kind of an empty argument sometimes. So how important is it for you to, to be Swiss and to define yourself as a Swiss.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yeah, it’s a very good point because we think that Swiss innovation, Swiss quality, we are talking about tangible product. It’s not about just software and maybe we, if we were just software, maybe we have to go to Silicon valley and, uh, and, and we will be more attractive in that sense.
So here we have a tangible product. Very strong USP and quality and Swiss quality products has really its value.
Antoine Walter: There’s an
Ramzi Bouzerda: appeal. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And, uh, Swissness is, is also part of our DNA because, uh, I would say, um, we came from here. I’m, I’m very proud to have grown up here in Switzerland. I benefited so much from Switzerland in comparison to my, my bone country.
So I would say there is a love, uh, with, with our country.
Antoine Walter: I think I read in one of your interviews that you, you were mentioning that there is a 4.5% of the GDP of Switzerland is in this ecosystem around IOT and a and smart appliances. Is that important to you to have this kind of neighborhood and proximity is with all the players to emulate and bring fresh.
Ramzi Bouzerda: I think, uh, Switzerland has proven that it’s, it’s a startup nation. We are very strong to generate innovation. That’s true. Maybe we are a bit more conservative for adoption with this innovation, but that’s definitely true. This ecosystem in the startup ecosystem that Switzerland has built so far is very, very powerful.
We benefit every day from that ecosystem. So as this. It’s very important to be part of that. And, uh, maybe it’s the best place as a startup to start with such ecosystem because you have privileged context and the relationship with research centers, like our PFL here in Lausanne, which is among the top 10 or top 20 top universities in the.
How close are you
Antoine Walter: to the PFL? Are you working
Ramzi Bouzerda: with them? If 10 minutes we have R and D project with a PFL right now, and we are 10 minutes drive, uh, from our headquarter and, um, uh PFL and Munis, almost all the team members are a PFL alumnis. Okay. You
Antoine Walter: can say alumnus or mafia is
Ramzi Bouzerda: how w we can see.
Antoine Walter: Well, very clear. Is there an elephant in the room which I would have missed about Droople?
Ramzi Bouzerda: No. I would say that we are raising money by Q1 2022. We are in, in torque with big players. And of course, it’s very interesting to see that. The water VC or the water investment ecosystem. Sometimes look at us as Nevani as something that is very weird, because I would say we don’t pitch only water, but we pitched this holistic approach about consumables, about how we optimize the processes around water on.
So. We are somewhere. Uh, we are something weird. I would say, uh, if I, if I would say that, so it’s not a scoop, but it’s my, my finding,
Antoine Walter: well, that’s a good conclusion, I guess, for this deep dive, but I propose you as to switch to the rapid fire questions. Yeah.
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Rapid fire questions:
Antoine Walter: So in that last section, I raised short question, which you can answer shortly as well. And don’t worry. I’m always the one which is sidetracking the discussion. My first question is what is the most exciting project you’ve been working on?
Ramzi Bouzerda: It’s Droople. But if I would like to take another one, it will be this platform that helps students to help other students.
So I’m, I’m coaching students of seven and eight years old to make their own platform that will help students help other students in terms of, you know, schools, courses and so on. So. That’s for me, a very interesting project because I helped others make their own entrepreneur journey. And we children, I learned so much.
So for me, it’s, uh, it’s really cool project.
Antoine Walter: I warned you about the sidetrack. You mentioned this entrepreneur journey, you know, I’ve been mentioning a lot on that microphone. How for me. Meeting entrepreneurs. I never thought entrepreneurship was something possible in the water industry. To me, you would go work for a big group, which is what I did.
I was working for Suez and that’s it. And it’s awesome. And it’s a cool industry to be in, but I mean, the entrepreneurship option wasn’t really in my radar. Is it the same for you? Or how do you share that? That’s more people take that as a possibility. Yeah,
Ramzi Bouzerda: I would say, um, It’s a possibility actually I see entrepreneurship as intra ownership or entrepreneurship.
So you can actually have both ways which will lead you to the same goal. I will say, to be more empowered, to do things that makes more sense and challenge the you code. That’s the purpose of, of entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial.
Antoine Walter: So entrepreneurship, you do it on your own intrepreneurship with inside the company, but you act as an entrepreneur.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Exactly. Because big groups like Suez, Jor Fisher, maybe, and, and others needs some challengers need some insiders that are able to move all those silos and so on. And I think water industry. Needs those people. So we need them outside the companies to actually shake a bit the market and also inside those big groups in order to open to more innovation, to more collaboration with startups and so on.
Antoine Walter: I think it’s about opening this silo somehow, because you’re, again, another example from someone which comes from outside the industry and brings a breath of fresh air within the industry. And. There’s much more of these outsiders, which bring that in then people which are already sitting in that industry, in which all of a sudden realize I can do.
Ramzi Bouzerda: I can do the parallel with the banking industry. It’s exactly the same. Actually, the people that are outside the banking industry are able to shake that industry, people that have grown up inside the banking bed, it is more difficult because you learn so much, you are a bit formatted and so on. Sometimes it’s very difficult to challenge your own.
Situation your own position, your own way of doing things.
Antoine Walter: Okay. Close my sidetrack and bring them back on track. Can you name one thing that you’ve learned the hard way,
Ramzi Bouzerda: huh? Yes. Um, I would say, uh, fundraise for. It’s not something that I love to do. To be honest, I actually dislike doing fundraise because you are trying to sell yourself and your project for a purpose that is good for the company, but actually.
Because you feel that you should not do that because you are somehow diluting this purpose, this, this power and so on. So to be honest, I’m, I’m not good to that. And for that. So it’s why don’t wait too much to do that practice a lot. If you don’t want to make a fundraise, uh, myself is very difficult. So I have to learn it the whole.
Antoine Walter: Is there something you are doing today in your job that you will not be doing in 10 years? I guess fundraising.
Ramzi Bouzerda: Yes. First second. Um, I would say, yeah, look at your burn rate because a as a startup, you look always at your burn rate, your runway and all those things. So you is something that’s, it’s a true concern as an entrepreneur to make sure that you have sufficient money in order to reach the next milestone and so on.
So that’s the second one, the third one it’s maybe. Innovation without looking at, uh, if you are taking too much risk and so on, I would love the time to say, oh, we have 10 million to spend in an innovation project and we don’t care if it will come with something or not. So, yeah, that will be a great, a great.
Antoine Walter: What is the trend to watch out for in the water sector. And you’re not allowed to tell me digitization.
Ramzi Bouzerda: I think, uh, it’s a very, um, good question. The first one is education because today the people that are managing water are people from the past, to be honest, like me and like everyone. Conversely that our children are the people that will manage water in the future.
So if we can educate our children now to make the people that will make water matter to people and make and preserve water in the, in the future, then we will. Really change how we deal with water in the future. So it’s my first first call. And the second one is to reimagine how this water value chain and economics is working.
And, uh, definitely we are doing something wrong. By letting the burden on the utilities and letting businesses leverage that value on the, on the last night, we have to find a way to actually make business balance this value between the value.
Antoine Walter: Well along the same kind of tone. My last question is if you were a word political leader, what would be your first action to influence the fate of the words?
Ramzi Bouzerda: While I would say the first one would be the, um, the people use scheme, which is actually is not. The case today, if I take Switzerland cold water is built through your surveys, your a surface, uh, of rent. It’s not your water consumption. If you take the electricity bill, you have your own electricity meter.
You pay your electricity bill for cold water. You don’t have that. Why? I don’t know, but actually the first thing I will do is everyone will pay water. According to his consumption
Antoine Walter: sounds logic,
Ramzi Bouzerda: logic, but not yet. But
Antoine Walter: Ramzi, it’s been a pleasure. So as I like to repeat the pleasures, would you have someone as cool as you to recommend me to have on that very microphone?
Ramzi Bouzerda: Uh, yes. Uh, I can recommend you a Stephen from liquid sense. That is, uh, who is working on legendary law, AI, and how we can better prevent Legionella inside the buildings. So. Yeah, it shows that water is a source of life, but could it be also a source of debt? And that’s also all the power of water. Actually,
Antoine Walter: if people want to follow up with you, where shall I redirect them?
Ramzi Bouzerda: LinkedIn, you can find me easily on LinkedIn. Uh, um, and of course, if they would like to reach out directly, they can email me at Ramzi(at)droople.com.
Antoine Walter: all the links in the description when Ramzi, again, it was a pleasure. So I’d love to see where this path is leading you, especially if you don’t like fundraising, I guess the IPO or the big move is called.
Rather sooner than later. So whenever there’s something. That microphone is open to you. Oh,
Ramzi Bouzerda: great. I look forward to it. Thank you, Antoine. And, uh, I would love to come back and announce a big IPO.
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