Startup of the Day: Spacedrip, Estonian inventor of wastewater treatment robots

Founded in 2019 by Joonatan Oras, Rainer Nõlvak, and Hannes Tamjärv, Spacedrip develops water reuse robots that enable tackling water scarcity by reusing wastewater locally. The company claims that its systems enable reusing up to 95% of wastewater with 50% lower maintenance and energy costs. In addition, Spacedrip delivers systems to real estate developers, defense forces, and water companies that need to provide water access & services in water-stressed and off-grid locations. 

In May 2023, the startup received €1.5 million round to develop water treatment robot technology. Spacedrip plans to provide water reuse and treatment to over 3 million people globally by 2033. 

In the Startup of the Day column, the founding team of Spacedrip, shares more details about the startup’s idea, its product, and future plans.

The Startup of the Day column on AIN.Capital is dedicated to tech projects from all sectors that originated from the CEE countries. If you would like to introduce your project, please fill in the questionnaire.

Tell us about your startup. How does it work?

Spacedrip develops water reuse robots that enable tackling water scarcity by reusing wastewater locally. Our systems enable reusing up to 95% of wastewater and provide water access for communities and businesses in off-grid & water-stressed locations.

Spacedrip technology enables reusing wastewater for irrigation, toilet flushing, laundry and even potable purposes like shower and tap water. We use the best wastewater treatment technologies and integrate them with our software & automation that always ensures pure water quality and enables reusing water with 50% lower maintenance and energy costs.

How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?

At the core of our mission lies the urgent need to address water scarcity, a pressing challenge facing humanity in the coming years. We recognize that one of the key solutions to combating water scarcity is the implementation of local water reuse systems in communities and businesses.

The existing centralized water infrastructure is highly inefficient when it comes to water conservation and demand reduction. The lack of efficient water reuse methods is mainly due to the requirement of extensive piping and infrastructure. Moreover, traditional wastewater treatment plants often fall short in terms of efficiency, producing low-quality water that cannot be reused.

Motivated by these shortcomings, we took the initiative to develop a closed-loop water reuse system prototype. In 2020, we successfully purified wastewater back to potable quality and implemented its reuse within our prototyping office. This accomplishment not only validated our concept, but also served as the inspiration behind the establishment of Spacedrip. With a larger scale in mind, we embarked on our journey to combat water scarcity.

How long did it take to reach the prototype or MVP? What did you encounter?

We spent over 1.5 years building the first prototypes and purifying and reusing hundreds of cubic meters of wastewate while always keeping our goal in mind: designing the systems according to customer needs from the first day. Our prototyping process primarily relied on a trial-and-error method and involved continuous conversations with potential customers, which enabled us to refine the systems based on the exact market demand.

When exactly did you launch your product? Or when the launch is planned?

We built the first systems in 2020 and delivered the first products to customers in 2021.

Tell us about the startup’s business model. How do you monetize your product?

We see Spacedrip as a decentralized water company that provides water & sewer access by reuse globally. First, we provide our wastewater treatment and reuse systems to the customers. Secondly, we provide our customers software based maintenance & operating services to ensure smooth water reuse operations throughout the lifecycle of our systems.

What are your target markets and consumers?

We primarily deliver our systems to real estate developers, water companies and defense forces who operate in water-stressed and off-grid locations in Europe, Africa and USA. We focus on reusing domestic wastewater and greywater.

If the startup has already launched the product, what are the results: metrics, income, or any clear indicators that can be evaluated.

By the end of 2022 we have delivered over 40 systems to customers in at least 4 countries and generated an annual projected revenue of over €2 million.

What about your team? How many people are working in the startup? If you’re looking for new employees, indicate whom exactly.

Currently, we have 18 people in our team. Right now all our positions are filled but keep an eye on our careers page on our website or feel free to contact us directly if you like our mission and want to join our team in the future.

We are also constantly looking for new partners in new markets to bring our water reuse technology to new customers and users.

Have you already raised any investments? Provide us with more details on each funding round: the amount, investors, the purpose of the investment.

Spacedrip has secured a seed round of €1.5M, with participation from investors spanning various sectors including defense, infrastructure, energy, and more. Among the investors are Eigenkapital OÜ, Vestman Energia AS, Kuldar Väärsi, Taavi Veskimägi, MSM OÜ, along with several other Estonian investors. This investment will fuel our expansion into new markets and drive product development.

What’s next? Tell us about your future plans.

Our ambitious 10-year plan aims to provide water reuse and treatment to over 3 million people globally by 2033. This vision holds the potential to make a substantial impact in mitigating water scarcity and promoting the integration of water reuse systems as a standard practice across new and existing communities, businesses, and buildings. As part of our strategy, we have set a clear objective to double the number of deliveries and revenue each year leading up to that milestone.