Alxedo founders discuss their plans to create a global #PlasticFree community
July 4, 2020
Alxedo is a cleantech company with a simple mission: to democratise access to clean drinking water through the creation of the world’s first digital water ecosystem.
Read about how founders Kai Werthmann and Samuel Sellmann went from being finance and consulting professionals to cleantech entrepreneurs, driven by a need to address the unsustainability around drinking water availability in many countries.
“I realised for the first time of my life what it means to not have access to clean water when I lived in rural Thailand,” says Samuel, describing the country’s ubiquitous dependence on bottled drinking water. “Water, which is as important as the air we breathe, should be conveniently accessible to everyone — and not at the cost of causing crazy plastic pollution. I used to feel just terrible throwing out a bunch of plastic water bottles in the trash every single day.”
Kai agrees, and says, “I never truly realised the importance of clean drinking water until I experienced the consequences of its absence while living in Brazil and contracted a stomach infection from drinking tap water for several months.”
Alxedo thus emerged from their personal experiences as well as a connection to nature and sense of responsibility towards the planet. As problem solvers and sustainable technology enthusiasts, a sustainable and smart water purification system that utilised the Internet of Things to place control over drinking water quality in the hands of consumers seemed like an obvious solution to the problem of poor drinking water access in many countries. These initial discussions — first sketched on a napkin in a Pizza Union in East London — has grown into a fast-developing start-up that enters its first market, Mexico, very soon.
Their choice of pilot market was driven by their experience in and affinity for the region. “Some people say I am the most Latin American German they have ever met. This may be because it is like a second home to me,” says Kai, who also completed part of his undergraduate studies in Mexico.
Mexico also has the highest per capita consumption of water bottles, which made it a natural choice for launching their plastic-free initiative.
“Latin America will be just the beginning of our journey and with the support of our great community, and quality insights into water supply, we hope to be able to build a global ecosystem of clean water,” says Samuel.
“We want to communicate to our users that making sustainable product choices does not have to come at the cost of quality and a great lifestyle. We are positioning ourselves as a lifestyle brand that not only improves the quality of life of our customers, but also contributes to a cleaner planet,” he adds.
The founders explain that Alxedo is run on principles of sustainability and transparency. This applies to its data protection practices as well. “We make sure that our users are the first group benefiting from the data they share with us,” says Samuel, “All water quality data on Alxedo is fully anonymised, and available freely to the user community. Additionally, this data will be only used to improve water quality and the efficiency of supply. This will further empower Alxedo users to contribute to the infrastructural development of their own communities and cities.”
In the short period of time since its inception, Alxedo has received several accolades for its innovative mission and use of technology. Just this year, in 2020, it placed first in the Imperial College Startup Pitch Challenge and the London School of Economics Funding Competition, and its founders were announced the LSE Entrepreneur of the Year 2020. In 2019, Alxedo won the Product Red Dot Design Award.
“Looking back across our journey right from the beginning to today, when we have a great team, a prototype and highly positive responses from potential customers, is an incredible feeling. Hopefully, in five years we will have a vibrant community around the world being part of the journey towards plastic-free water consumption,” Samuel says.
Kai agrees. “Being struck by a pandemic is definitely a black swan event for any entrepreneur. But we have been agile enough to adapt to changes quickly and get through the hurdle of working virtually with our team and suppliers. In the next five years, I envision a complete ecosystem of Alxedo products and a growing community of like minded people supporting our product and mission to reduce plastic pollution.”