Each Startup Giants entrepreneur is exceptional. Their idea shines from beyond the competition because they’re bringing something truly innovative to the shores of the United Kingdom. Alexandre Yunus Mahe CEO, OSG Water Ltd, is an Entrepreneur who is looking not only to disrupt a marketplace but add serious value to the health and livelihood of everyone that uses his product. How? By making common, every day water, smarter …
Alex is gearing up to launch Skuma on September 18th 2021. His Skuma device rids you of the need for bottled water, by not only purifying H2O to a high level using reverse osmosis technology, it then enables you to add minerals or chosen supplements back into the purified water to support the ultimate in wellness.
Factoring in all aspects of business and manufacturing has been no mean feat to create the flawless vision of features that Alex had in his mind when he first conceived the idea. He talks to Startup Giants …
How did you come up with the idea for Skuma?
I was studying in Montreal, and I was doing my undergrad degree in mechanical engineering. I started a company at the time, that was, again, water based. It was a hardware company using the concept of adding things to the water, specifically for contact lens wearers. During my whole four years of undergrad I was working on the concept, and it didn’t work out well. We couldn’t raise funds and the market wasn’t ready. No one was getting excited about it.
Wanting to get away from the bad experience with engineering I moved to London to pursue a Master’s in law. Whilst over here I saw the Design Council advertise their Spark programme and thank goodness I did! I completed the application to the accelerator, focusing on how to make water more valuable and I got through. We got £15,000 of funding which allowed us to become who we are today. I immediately hired George who was working with me on the other company to join us to start something new again, which was a crucial move.
Why the obsession with water?
I grew up in the Middle East and there’s always this problem where people don’t use tap water; everybody has these big dispensers and it got me thinking, why is water assumed to be bad in some countries and not others? Even in the UK where the tap water is far superior to many other places, people are still drinking from bottled water.
What was your first big challenge at this point.
Easy – making the actual product. When I was back in Canada working on the other business I lost a lot of money contracting agencies to assist in creating the perfect machine. Anyone can come up with a design or something to fulfil the purpose but it’s very hard to imagine and design something that is flawless in the in the sense that all the features make sense with each other. For example, we wanted to first purify the water then add precious minerals to it to make it perfect to drink. So initially we thought, let’s just make small capsules, like Nespresso but then that clashed with our goal of being eco-friendly and reducing plastic waste, so we had to rethink everything to ensure it fits with our product and our company values for the future. It’s all been worth it though because we know that our product is only going to bring goodness to the world and the people who use it. For example, about 80% of people in the UK are deficient in vitamin D. So we’re thinking, why not just add vitamin D in the water and at a level that would replace your supplementation.
How have you solved this problem?
Well we’re very thankful to Startup Giants actually. It’s through collaborating with them and talking to CEO Jeb, who put us in touch with an investor who owns a water purification company in Hong Kong. This has made our life a million times easier. It’s been a year now and we’ve spoken in some way every day to problem shoot and develop our idea. He’s done this over five times so he’s on the ball with what specific components we need for our device and how to source extra suppliers and how to beat them down on price. That’s why we can execute at a cheaper cost than our competition. Beyond any of that though it’s phenomenal to have somebody on board that we trust and respect and who knows what he is doing. Together we’ve shaped Skuma into being exactly how we wanted it to be and better.
In terms of competitors is this a marketplace that’s relatively new?
Yes in a way. We have two main competitors in theory, however one is vastly more expensive and doesn’t have all of the other features that we do on Skuma, like instant hot water for example. And the other one actually raised a huge amount of money crowdfunding but never delivered the product to the crowd investors. Competitor knowledge is a good thing though as it helps you to refine your own USPs and work even harder.
Do you have any advice for fellow Startup Giants’ Entrepreneurs starting their own business?
Accept that there’s always going to be challenges but only go into business with something that you’re completely interested in so no matter what the challenges are, you keep working to fix them.