AQUAPOINT, SIX MONTHS LATER AFTER THE FINAL

AQUAPOINT, SIX MONTHS LATER AFTER THE FINALAvailability of clean drinking water in public spaces, social objects and educational institutions is an important element in creation of the healthy nation. Young graduates of the British HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS Galym Baytimbetov and Aizhan Esekina asked the question in England. Directly upon return to Kazakhstan they were engaged in creation of drinking fountains. Just a few months the first device was created. In March of this year having become one of winners of the competition "Build Your Own Business" the AquaPoint project got financial support thanks to which production of drinking fountains in Kazakhstan shall rise on a flow.

About appearance of the project
Our project appeared last year. We were finishing study abroad and already by the time of study completion we understood that we want to be engaged in something special. Something like that that would be interesting personally to us, the useful to society and had a commercial basis.
The question of consuming of drinking water in enough was always urgent task for me. Earlier I often had situations when it was difficult to find drinking water when it was necessary, especially in educational institutions and in public places. And during study abroad I also did not note as this problem ceased to disturb me as at the university I often used drinking fountains. It was very convenient and then I asked a question: "Why it is not in Kazakhstan?"
Having reconsidered different ideas, me and Aizhan understood that creation of drinking fountains is interesting not only to us, it helps to solve problems of the considerable segment of the population. I wanted that the younger generation had an access to good drinking water, at schools, in HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS. We began to sort out all pluses and minuses of the project, and decided to start implementation of this idea.

About the first steps
About a year ago, we turned on the heat, began to collect a prototype which I developed in England. We had enough knowledge in any assembly of devices and water purification. I received a bachelor degree in specialty "a chemical engineer" in Nazarbayev University and further according to the Bolashak Programme finished a magistracy having become "engineer-businessman". And Aizhan studied in "graphic design and media", and helped to promote and explain a project essence in the best way, especially to people who were not familiar with similar devices. In general, knowledge and experience acquired during my studies really helped with development of our project. Having collected a prototype quickly enough, we understood that it is quite real.
Further we were engaged in more careful research of the market. We were surprised that in Kazakhstan really there is very small number of similar devices. Almost everywhere people use water in dispensers and bottles. And in public places, social and educational institutions, in parks and transport hubs drinking water is difficult to access to people.

About the first drinking fountain
We assembled the water-supply system. We wrote the program which counts the volume of water consumption. From the very beginning we built on good foreign devices. Wanted to make an analog in Kazakhstan. It was also important that the device would not be expensive. We assembled the first device by November, 2016. We had to make the first model of acrylic glass. It still stands at our office. Two taps, an infrared sensor were provided in it therefore we had certain difficulties with accessories and the device operated not quite correctly. Then we understood that it is necessary to begin production with the simplest models, to simplify construction, to minimize electronics. We began to project new model from metal, made mechanical elements inside the device, without connection to electronic management system. We decided to gain experience, and then to move to more advanced models.
We started production over again and our first iron device was ready at the beginning of January. We tested it, delivered in school, showed to children how it works. This experience became very important for us. We understood that it works, that children like it very much and most importantly - that it is really necessary. During school breaks children always gathered near our device, came for water. They asked whether the device always will stand at school? It was the test period for us, and it was necessary to take away the device. But it was very emotional moment. It was pleasant to hear that now in Kazakhstan we have drinking fountains, "as in the American animated cartoons". We can do something really good for our children, making absolutely little efforts. Therefore we started to work on the project with increasing dynamism and efforts.

About participating in the contest "Build Your Own Business"
We've known about the contest "Build Your Own Business" for a long time. We have learned about the beginning of a new contest in November last year. As we knew we were going to do business, we realized that the contest was an excellent opportunity for us to realize our potential. We began to prepare for participation in the contest a long time ago. We were collecting video materials while still studying.
We really believed in our project, but it was difficult for us to understand whether we would be in the short-list or not. We were watching other participants and we understood how difficult it would be to fight for victory. When we posted our video, our friends supported us very much and believed in us. That was the time we actually believed we could do it. When we saw the short-list, we were very happy we managed to get there. Then there was an interview. We were very worried, but everything went well, because the people who interviewed us were qualified in our sphere. The participation in the contest helped us a lot in the development of the project, and it became a valuable experience for us.
By the time the grant was received, we gradually start working on the implementation of our product. The work on the development of the product was also continuous.

About the usage of the grant
When we received financial support, may be said we opened out the wings. It seemed to us that we will turn the mountains now, everything is in our hands. In the circumstances of Kazakhstan, the grant received is a great support. That was more than enough for us.
We didn't immediately waste money from the grant and did not immediately buy expensive equipment. We decided to find partners who will be able to assemble the casings for us in better quality than we could produce ourselves.
We wrote in the business plan that the first five machines we would like to place in social facilities free of charge. Thus, we could provide water exactly where it is needed and for us it would be a specific pilot project.
We assembled five machines, purchased the necessary components, and organized an office. In the office, we started collecting machines. At the moment, the machines are already ready and assembled, but after talking over with the educational institutions we decided to postpone the installation for August, so that the machines do not stand idle during the holidays.
We decided that while we would temporarily set the machines at various events as advertising, so that people could get acquainted with our project. For example, we put our machines on the Almaty Innovation Forum. We got a good result, meaning that about 1000 people used our machines that day. The machine is mobile, despite the fact that the it is made of steel. (weighs about 35 kg).
Also, we managed to find contractors who, at a more reasonable price and in the best quality, could make steel casings for us. We have found local and foreign partners who will supply us with accessories. We also have established own business processes.

About the first customers
We've opened an assembly room. We are still working with suppliers to start a full-scale production. In the meantime, a small part of the machines is produced in our office. We're preparing a pool of buyers for our machines and we already got orders for 20 pieces. In August the assembling has started. These are several educational institutions, fitness centers and office spaces.
We also want to install our machines in the parks, on pedestrian streets in Almaty. In addition, we will work closely with educational institutions, schools and colleges. We are preparing the documentation for the placement of our machines in higher education institutions. We are negotiating with large national companies; they are also interested in our project, especially its social component. The target audience of our project is quite broad, but for now we are trying to work gradually with those companies with which it is easier to solve all legal procedures. We hope that in the autumn we will install the first permanent machines, and then we will put the production on stream.

About the benefit
We prepared presentations for various categories of water consumers. We have calculations that show the efficiency, economy and environmental friendliness of our devices. For example, let's take an organization where there are more than 200 people permanently. The monthly savings for such an organization will be about 50,000 tenge. For the year of use, an impressive amount about half a million tenge is expected.
We assumed that we would sell the machines, but after discussing the product with various organizations, we realized that it was more convenient for many to receive it as a service. That is, we install our device for free and receive only a fixed monthly subscription fee. This is an opportunity for companies to save, without any capital outlay. They get almost unlimited access to clean drinking water with small monthly payments. We're taking full service of the machines.
I have already mentioned that the first machine was electronic. We are finalizing this system, there will be built-in meters which will show the volume of water consumed and the kind of resource the filters have. This will greatly facilitate the maintenance of our devices.

About where to find the first machines AquaPoint
We have machines for use in enclosed spaces, and very soon there will be models for use on the city streets. It may be said that we just started streaming our machines. We kick-started the production, our new machines are being prepared and will be installed in the autumn for the first customers.
By the way, we will supply two of our drinking fountains to the school that the "Saby" found has built in the village of Akzhar, in Almaty. They're ready for installation.

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