In the wake of Earth Day, quality and availability of water remains a key environmental challenge on our planet. In Denver, Colorado, people gathered for an event called Trout Tank H2o to showcase water-saving technologies.
CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.
A play off the U.S. reality T.V. show Shark Tank in which aspiring entrepreneurs competed to sell investors on their business ideas, Trout Tank featured five businessmen pitching their water-related companies to a panel of judges.
“We started our company here in Denver, Colorado out of a garage,” Kelley Smith, the owner of Kokopelli which makes light, inflatable packrafts said.
Another company, Instream Water, takes aim at single-use plastic water bottles. “We are a network of free-standing, weather-proof, filtered water refill stations that are installed in public spaces and dispense clean-filtered water into a reusable bottle,” Patrick Mahncke, Instream’s owner told the crowd.
Meanwhile, Culver Vanderjagt’s invention revolves around toilets. “This one is a water-consuming monster,” he said pointing to a toilet on a screen.
His product, called SinkTwice, is a sink that sits on top of a toilet. One flush sends clean water through the faucet and onto your hands for washing, then straight into the tank below.
“SinkTwice connects directly to the valve, and the valve comes straight from the city,” Vanderjagt said. “It’s in fact, some say, cleaner than the water that comes out of a faucet.”
Vanderjagt said several thousand devices have already been sold. SinkTwice detects water leaks and saves water and space in the bathroom. It’s the kind of new approach to water challenges this pitch event was after.
“Water’s a critical resource here in the West, just like it is throughout the entire world,” said Abram Sloss, director of the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center. “So anything we can do or play a role in finding innovative solutions to protect that precious resource, we’re all in.”
Mike Smith’s company RenewWest uses carbon offset credits to help replenish forests. “We’re facing some severe environmental challenges, and without innovation within the sector everything else falls apart,” Smith said.
The five businesses took part in an eight-week accelerator program before undergoing some light grilling from the judges.
“So today how are you manufacturing?” asked one.
“Are you targeting people as they are new home-builders?” asked another.
“Is there a lot of competition in this area?” asked yet another.
In the end, Smith took top prize of $5,000 along with some valuable exposure, including to potential investors. He said environmental innovation has been slow in coming until very recently. “I think it’s about to burst through in a big way in the next couple of years,” Smith said.