Floji is a student startup that is developing a smart water filter for tourists that want to drink tap water abroad, but are unsure about the quality and safety of the water. With Floji, tourists don’t have to buy bottled water, but drink high quality, filtered water straight from the tap instead. This saves up to forty kilograms of plastic waste for every Floji and, not at all unimportant, money for the consumer. Last month Floji took home the audience award at the Startup Tech Event 2017.
The Startup Tech Event is part of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) Tech Centre. During a special minor program, tech students learn to start and develop their own business. Experts and coaches teach the young students about the different aspects of entrepreneurship and (online) marketing. You can read more about the Tech Event here.
A common passion
The idea for Floji started at the beginning of the minor program, says Bas van der Lubbe, one of the co-founders of the smart water filter. “The coaches in our minor program gave us a good piece of advice: start your company in a market segment that actually connects with your interests and profile. Everybody in our team shared a common passion, which was traveling. From there, after a few brainstorm sessions, we started talking about how privileged we are in The Netherlands that there is always clean water coming straight from the tap – something you simply don’t have in most of the countries you travel to. From this idea, the Floji concept was born.”
“For us, the minor program really helped us to transform an idea to a startup. During the minor a lot of inspirational guest speakers gave us helpful tips and tricks to actually further develop, validate and market this concept. But there was also a lot of personal and creative freedom to develop the product on our own.”
“For the past year and a half, we learned that there is a big difference between wanting to start a business and actually starting a business. On paper every plan can sound great and the product concept could be fine and interesting, but you only find out if something truly works and is marketable when you talk with different companies and investors.”
Van der Lubbe agrees that the water filter concept is far from new. However, the product could be very marketable in a specific niche in the tourism industry. “There are many portable water filters on the market already. Some focus on backpackers or people in third world countries, others on purifying tap water at home. The former are made to purify water from creeks and puddles, the latter are made for long term use and are therefore not compact or easy to install. With Floji, we specifically focus on people who go to popular holiday destinations and whose only alternative to tap water is bottled water. Our product is easy to install and very compact. Next to that, it’s good for your health and the environment as well. One filter is good enough for 1200 liters of water; equal to over 600 bottles of plastic bottles.”
During the Tech Event, Floji took home the audience award and second place in the jury prize. The main criticism of the jury was that the prototype design of the Floji felt and looked too uncomfortable for the average consumer. “We were happy with the honest feedback from the judges. In the end it’s a consumer product after all, so we’re going to change the design in some ways that it fit more with the needs of the typical Dutch consumer.”
In the next few months, the team will focus on connecting with possible new business partners who can provide knowledge, expertise and funding to further develop the product. “If that works out, we hope to bring the Floji to market in the summer of 2018,” says Van der Lubbe.