Q: Tell us a little bit about your company and how it is using innovative methods to solve urban challenges?
A: Aquagenuity™ is the “Google Search” for water quality, helping check your water as easily as checking the weather. Honored as “the world’s largest water database” by Google, Aquagenuity has been recognized by the New York Times, Forbes, IBM, SoftBank, BMW Mini’s Urban-X, TechCrunch, WIRED Magazine, and on the homepage of Google for helping consumers, corporations and cities find out: “What’s In Your Water?” in real-time from any smart device.
In 2020, Aquagenuity launched the Water Genome Project™ as a part of Ocean Visions to map all the world’s water city-by-city, using data to bridge the gap in the last mile between the water treatment plant and every home’s tap. Leveraging big data analytics and machine learning, Aquagenuity’s proprietary database currently features up-to-date water quality data for 82% of the U.S. population (that’s 262 million Amercians and counting).
In the Fall of 2020, Aquagenuity’s Guardians of H2O program entered schools, helping to fulfill the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Target #6b. The Guardians program engages scientists at the local level and provides unprecedented insights into water quality in local communities.
Aquagenuity is defining this category, being the first in the world to make it easy to leverage water quality data as a key input in decision-making for health conscious consumers today, as well as for enterprise and municipal customers in the future. Our data will change the face of environmental monitoring in smart home devices and on apps consumers already use everyday. It will become a new metric to help corporations rank their performance in ESG (environmental, social and governance), Corporate Social Responsibility, and Sustainability. Our data will also help cities build a safer future for residents by helping them predict and prevent water-related public health crises and avoid the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in economic development, such as we saw in Flint.
Q: What inspired you to start your company?
A: I’m Doll Avant, Founder and CEO of Aquagenuity. I, like most Americans, was shocked when the contaminated water crisis in Flint, MI hit national headlines in 2016, but as a data scientist and a graduate of Harvard University, I wanted a better understanding of what was really happening.
I began researching water’s impact on public health in the United States and discovered a disturbing statistic: there are actually 3,000 locations in the United States with more lead in their water than Flint, Michigan. As a data scientist, I saw this as a data problem, so I set out to aggregate water quality data for all 50 states.
After my dad’s sudden diagnosis with diabetes, I came across an obscure report linking high levels of arsenic in the local water supply with diabetes. When his health turned for the worst, it made me wonder how many other people are being negatively impacted by their water and don’t even know it? That’s when the light bulb went off for me. If I could build a data-driven technology to predict water crises, I could possibly save lives and help #preventanotherflint. So I decided to reimagine the way the world interacts with their water using the power of data science and the blockchain.
My father passed away from kidney complications in June 2017. Two weeks later, Aquagenuity (where water meets ingenuity) was born.
Q: Tell us why you decided to apply to the URBAN-X Program? What were the key takeaways for your company during the program?
A: We applied to URBAN-X because we were interested in being able to leverage the expertise of leaders inside of the BMW MINI organization as well as the team at Urban Us. We gained tremendous insight from the weekly one-on-one sessions with our dedicated mentors, who served as a great sounding board and a true extension of our executive team in terms of helping guide our strategy. In addition, we were able to leverage Experts in Residents from the BMW engineering team to begin developing a machine learning software that can monitor lead levels in real time without the need for sensor installation or manual testing. We were able to have this breakthrough in our technology because we were a part of the URBAN-X program.
Q: What advice to you have for other startups and/ or inspiring entrepreneurs looking to reimagine urban life?
A: When it comes to problems with our environment, it’s important to remember that the solutions will require a multidisciplinary approach. I would advise that pioneers in this space with cutting edge technologies remain open to creating strategic partnerships and building coalitions so that their technologies are adopted more quickly. When the brightest entrepreneurial minds in the world burn down the silos and start working together – this is how we’ll change the world.