Twenty-three-year-old Zahin Razeen is an entrepreneur and a futurist who dreams of changing the water management system in Bangladesh.
He realised at an early age that freshwater would become a scarce resource with each passing day. Also, water-borne diseases were a scourge for our country and technology could be used intelligently and efficiently to address this problem.
To this end, he, along with his sister, knocked on several doors with their idea. However, to their great disappointment, nobody took an interest.
But the founders of Hydroquo+, Zahin and Rizvana Hredita, decided to follow their passion regardless.
Eventually, in 2019, they found a willing listener in none other than Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority. Teaming up with the government agency responsible for supplying water to city residents, Hydroquo+ set up a mechanism to test water quality in 10 pipelines of different areas in the city.
So far, Hydroquo+ has successfully collaborated with Dhaka Wasa and the Central Microbiology Laboratory in two projects.
Chittagong Wasa, as well as the Chittagong Port Authority and MENA region have also expressed interest in doing pilot projects with Hydroquo+.
At present, they are researching the implementation of their tracing and filtration technology for private water supply, as well as city and regional level utilities.
They are also incorporating their technology in the commercial filtration process, for example, in the pharmaceutical industries or the food and beverage procession industries.
ETPs and water treatment plants can also potentially benefit from their technology.
The siblings, meanwhile, were recently catapulted into the spotlight thanks to their inclusion in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia for their venture Hydroquo+.
\So what is Hydroquo+?
Hydroquo+ is a Dhaka based hi-tech start-up.
The team at Hydroquo+ have developed an intelligent I-IoT-based system (I-IoT: Industrial Internet of Things) that monitors water hygiene and provides clients with conservation metrics based on M2M (machine to machine) communication.
The system receives the input from the sensor where parameters like turbidity, chlorine, pH, connectivity, pressure etc are connected and machine learning algorithms are employed for predicting the water quality based on a trained data set.
The trained data set and forecasted data are kept on a cloud server, which is interoperable through smartphones, desktops and tablets.
This has resulted in a fully automated water quality monitoring system that uses IoT technologies to communicate among devices in order to anticipate water quality for the residential area.
"When a doctor sees an x-ray report, they can easily diagnose a condition. Similarly, with the capacity of diagnosing water, one can understand where the contaminated water is coming from or detect a problematic pH level, Turbidity, Total organic Carbon, Dissolved organic carbon and Free chlorine easily. So, we invented Hydroquo+," said Zahin.
"Conducting the same tests in Buet will cost more time and money. But our system aims to deliver results at only Tk 1.5 within a very short time," he added.
After successfully finishing the pilot process of online monitoring of water, the Hydroquo+ team aims to work area-wise to make this advanced system more effective.
The motivation for the founders
What drove Zahin and Rizvana to form Hydroquo+ was the urge to save Bangladesh from the freshwater crisis. Rizvana even left Canada to come and help her brother pursue the start-up.
Zahin explained, "Water industry is the most difficult industry to operate in because it takes a long time to even finish the pre-planning process. But we have dared to challenge the stereotype as a very high functional tech company."
"There are only three international companies like us who work for the improvement of the overall infrastructure of the water resource management system, that too in a different capacity than ours," he added.
From the start of his student life, Zahin had taken an interest in studying various fields. After much research, he found out that in the future, if World War III takes place, water would be one of the prime reasons behind it.
He believes that Bangladesh has abundant water resources. And to save the country from the anticipated scarcity and existing pollution, a sustainable infrastructure is needed to preserve our water as we grow economically.
The Hydroquo+ team consists of 10 people including Zahin as the CEO and Rizvana as the COO. Four of the members are foreigners.
The founder outsourced the full-stack industrial grade system from Austria. During the deployment phase the team underwent rigorous project based training.
Even though the team is small, the members are experts in different fields like astrophysics, chemistry, electrical engineering etc.
Is it commercially viable?
In entrepreneurship, behavioural challenges and financial challenges are common. Hydroquo+ was no exception.
Nonetheless, this venture has commercial viability as well as the power to impact the lives of millions.
"When you initiate something different in the market where the potential is hidden, it is common to get rejections. Not everyone could comprehend the unique approach we were advocating at the beginning. Also, my final product was not ready when we started our venture. As a result, it was difficult to get investors," says Zahin.
"However, I always believed that the water industry with a market of over six billion can lead one day. Those who once rejected the idea have now started to believe in it," Zahin shared with us.
Hydroquo+'s journey in the market has just begun and it aims to level up by reinforcing its current credentials.
When we asked the founder about their future vision, he said, "We want to build a circular water industry by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence algorithms and big data analytics to maximise information and data available. It will help to improve the quality of water worldwide and prevent outbreaks of waterborne disease."
Zahin is hopeful about the future.
"I hope that we soon enough cross the phase of behavioural awareness so that people can understand the necessity of this industry. For that, we need national and global effort. We need to adapt this technology at an industrial level so that we can be ready before the water crisis begins," Zahin went on.
Zahin Razeen's ideology to be a successful entrepreneur is to relentlessly pursue and ruthlessly execute.
"An entrepreneurial spirit should never die because of rejections. S/he should not stop pursuing his/her dreams unless death comes in their way. I was my company's engineer, facilitator, and commercial viability partner. In short, I played multiple roles because there was a lack of understanding among people about my project. But it did not dishearten me, I was tenaciously working to bring something that can be a big solution to a big problem," he concluded.