Hydro-Lite: Clean water delivered to people in need

By Victoria Bannister
For WisBusiness.com

Imagine being able to drink the water in an area despite a surrounding environmental disaster. With Hydro-lite, users will be able to sterilize water quickly and drink it whenever they need it.

“Waterborne diseases kill more individuals annually than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined,” said Eric James, the founder of water sterilization company Hydro-lite.

Hydro-lite is a startup company based in Milwaukee. Founded in 2014, Hydro-lite has already been selected for the Water Council’s BREW Accelerator and has received a letter of support from an angel investor.

James’ interest in the environment started at a young age as an Eagle Scout, the highest rank of the Boy Scouts of America. He has since been a paratrooper with the U.S. military, and has more than 15 years of experience working in difficult environmental conditions. He has been an aid worker and a project manager overseas in struggling climates.

There are many products in the market that sterilize water, so what makes Hydro-lite unique? One of the most important thing to note is that Hydro-lite does not require batteries, filters or added chemicals.

With the changing climate, reducing the use of consumables is a needed quality.

Hydro-lite uses ultra-violet light to “eliminate the life-threatening danger from all bacteria, viruses, and protozoa,” explained James. The UV light purifies the water with its highly concentrated energy waves, which gets rid of unwanted contaminants in the water. The handheld product fits the standard one-liter water bottle, such as a Nalgene, and cleans the water in 60 seconds.

The company is initially targeting those who can pay for the early-stage product. James noted that travelers such as missionaries, campers, hunters and backpackers, are among those who will benefit from the initial product. Once they have a base in these groups, Hydro-lite plans to expand to a wider market. They see that companies involved in international assistance could benefit from bulk purchases. Serving disaster areas that are in dire need of clean water is one of Hydro-lite’s main goals.

That means Hydro-lite’s target markets will initially be in United States retail sales, but will develop into “bulk sales and the developing world,” according to James.

The product that most directly competes with Hydro-lite is Sidewinder, developed by Steripen.

However, Hydro-lite’s unique design make it less bulky and faster-acting than its competitor. Hydro- lite will also be retailed at a much lower price than Steripen, which the company says will make it more desirable to its target audience.

Hydro-lite was selected as a semi-finalist in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, which will culminate June 2-3 at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Madison.

— Bannister is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.