"This will become a standard item in every home, mark my words!" It is a message that Hydraloop's co-founder, Sabine Stuiver, firmly believes in. It also characterizes her way of doing business; with boundless confidence in their mission, but also working weeks of 70 to 80 hours for years. In January 2020, their hard work was rewarded by winning at the world's largest consumer trade show, the CES in Las Vegas. An award that placed them above twenty thousand other products, including the newest inventions of brands like BMW and Samsung.
The result? Thousands of product requests worldwide, hundreds of partnership requests, camera crews from every news station you can think of, a role in a Netflix documentary, and the luxury of bringing the best people in the field to Leeuwarden. Still, they were only at the beginning then, according to Sabine. "I was on NPO Radio 1 the other day, there I was called water science expert; a fun word if you like Scrabble. You see, we are busy lobbying to get water conservation in the building code. That change is going to happen. Think back seventy years ago; back then if you bought a washing machine, a plumber had to come by because your plumbing wasn't made for it. Now 150 million washing machines are sold a year. Sure, that took a while, but I believe this is going much faster because of the impact that water recycling has, this is a must-have while a washing machine is a nice-to-have. In addition, we have agreements in the Middle East, then we are just talking about 350 thousand homes; so there is an incredible amount in the pipeline." You don't have to flush your toilet with drinking water, do you?" The Hydraloop "Actually, our vision is pretty straightforward," Sabine explains. "Every building has its own water source. This consists of slightly contaminated water, such as that from the shower or washing machine (rather than heavily contaminated water such as from the toilet or kitchen). This is now collectively disposed of, cleaned somewhere, and released into nature, and then a waterworks company collects it again, cleans it, and transports it to your home so that it can again be used only once. We are not from the water tech world at all, but we had the vision that this way of doing things was ridiculous in the 21st century. You don't need to flush your toilet with drinking water, do you? So we thought: there must be another way. We developed water recycling systems of different sizes and for different applications: houses, apartments, but also B&Bs, hotels, sports clubs, and offices. That way you save 45% of drinking water, your carbon footprint is reduced and you use less energy. We are also the only ones in the world to do this without chemicals that are enormously harmful and without filters that often clog up – and with a system the size of a refrigerator. At the same time, our competitors need a garden shed." Using a dinghy to change the course of a tanker "It felt like the first few years we had to change the course of a tanker with a dinghy, but we're really seeing it happen now," Sabine said. "We've grown tremendously. Initially, we focused a lot on the southwestern states of America; there the drought is dire, there is a sustainability mindset and people have money. But over time, the whole world has become a market. That means we now have partners in, for example, Japan, and Vietnam, but also Sweden. Because there too they suffer from drought. In total, we are now in more than fifty countries. So also in countries for which we first thought there would be no market. Including the Netherlands. We also have three official offices: our head office in the Wetsus building where we have 28 people, a team of seven in America, five in Dubai, and two more business units in Toronto and Sydney. Brave Blue World and WIPO Award Since they started in 2015, there have been some significant turning points for Hydraloop: "We went in a few years from a startup with a system made in our own garage to the winner of the CES, a spot in the documentary Brave Blue World which can be seen on Netflix and even a Global Award from WIPO. The World Intellectual Property Organization, like UNESCO, is a subsidiary of the United Nations and presented an award based on the impact of a company's patent on humanity, economy, and sustainability. For this we sat in a huge hall in Geneva, surrounded by all the people with those country signs. That was an Oscar moment. And as icing on the cake, I can announce that we won another Innovation Award at this year's CES in the 'Smart Home' category with our newest product, the Hydraloop Concealed!" We need to do four times as much "Change, of course, often takes a heart-breakingly long time, whereas we want to move very quickly," Sabine explains her vision for sustainability. "And right now, according to the IPCC, we are doing four times less in terms of water conservation than we need to. While I recently read in the newspaper that investing in sustainability, specifically the Green Deal, pays for itself two to four times over. After all, you're investing in damage that you're not going to make; so that you won't have to repair it later. That's why we want water conservation, like solar panels a few years ago, to be in the building code. That really gets the flywheel turning because you can co-finance it, then pay it back, and then it makes money for you. This also makes the value of water clearer. At the upcoming CES, we're launching a new product that will also make this possible for people who live small. Think tiny houses and apartments, but also the remodeling market. That's not the only thing we're working on. We are also working on a decentralized assembly line; we keep the factory in Emmen, but send the molds and sub-components (made in the factory in the Netherlands) to America and the Middle East, among others, so that Hydraloop products are assembled there."
This article is a literal translation of the Dutch original, published in the online "Founded in Friesland"- magazine. All copyright lies with Founded in Friesland.