Founders of Hydroquo+ Zahin Razeen and Rizvana Hredita, who made their way to the Forbes 30 under 30′ Asia list shared their journey at an EMK Center virtual discussion on Youth-led Innovation in Safe Water Management on Tuesday, read an EMK center press release.
Zahin and Rizvana’s startup Hydroquo+ provides artificial intelligence-powered water management solutions that report on the quality of the water, identify leakage in supply lines, and provide forecasts of demand based on usage.
The program started with the opening remarks of U.S. Embassy Dhaka’s Acting Cultural Affairs Officer, Sharlina Hussain-Morgan, and was followed by a discussion on the journey of Hydroquo+ with Zahin Razeen and Rizvana Hredita.
“In 2018 I shared the idea of collecting data from water pipes to create AI and machine learning algorithms to efficiently treat non-potable water in Bangladesh’s poverty-stricken residential areas at the Hague One Young World Summit,” said Zahin Razeen, whose brainchild is Hydroquo+, shared how he came up with the idea and presented for the first time at a global platform.
Zahin then went on to show the machines and the monitoring dashboard of Hydroquo+ from which they get real-time updates of the water supply and quality of water.
The organization now provides support to the government agencies and NGOs on water-quality modeling. In September 2020, Razeen, CEO of Hydroquo+, was named one of the United Nations’ 17 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals who are leading efforts to combat the world’s most pressing issues.
Zahin claimed himself as a risk-blind person who can go to any extent to find the solution to a problem. On the other hand, Rizvana Hredita, the COO of Hydroquo+, is more of a grounded person who would assess the risks and act accordingly, which she believes was helpful for the organization.
Rizvana recalled a few stories of installing the machines. “There were instances, where we had to go to places and dig the roads to install the machine under the ground where the water supply pipe was located,” said Rizvana.
EMK Center started the virtual discussion series with the Bangladeshi Forbes 30 under 30 awardees from August 2021 which will continue throughout the year.
Hydroquo+ is Bangladesh’s first hydro-informatics start-up that develops, designs and executes specialist consultancy projects in the field of water quality monitoring
The Ganges Delta, atop which Bangladesh sits, has a naturally occurring aquifer which injects arsenic fluoride and other impurities into the water.
After Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, various organizations drilled over 10 million tube wells without testing the water.
Fast forward 29 years, by the year 2000, 30% of the water was found to be contaminated with arsenic, leading the World Health Organization (WHO) to state this as the biggest mass poisoning in history.
To help prevent such colossal disasters in the future and to prevent water wastage, 23-year-old Zahin Razeen and his sister Rizvana Hredita have started Hydroquo+.
Razeen is a student of Pure Maths and Applied Statistics from the University of Glasgow in the UK and Hredita has a background in Finance from Canada’s York University.
Hydroquo+ is Bangladesh’s first hydro-informatics start-up that develops, designs and executes specialist consultancy projects in the field of water quality monitoring and hydrological modelling to mitigate water-related challenges and their potential implications on the infrastructure, lives and livelihoods in real-time.
“We have put together a unique industry-first approach to automate testing, monitoring, and reporting at scale,” says Razeen.
“Our organization is focused on delivering water intelligence to determine water safety and availability with actionable insights in real-time. Through this, we eventually hope to prevent and predict outbreaks to ensure water security for years to come,” he added.
This business model started off as a research and development initiative idea pitch at the 2018 Hague One Young World Summit.
The duo began laying the foundation work the following year.
According to Razeen, if the consumption of water keeps on going the way it is at the moment, we will see a very different scenario in the next 200 years.
“If you take baseline water consumption globally across the whole world and compound it at just a few percent a year for just a few hundred years, you have to cover the entire surface of the Earth with desalination plants,” he explained.
One in every three people does not have access to safe drinking water, according to WHO. And as the annual global consumption of fresh water is around 4.3 trillion cubic meters, a large portion of the global population is still deprived of this basic need.
Fresh, clean and drinkable water accounts for just 0.003% of all water available globally, and the rest is just too saline for human consumption.
“There are actions that we can take that affect those probabilities or that accelerate one thing or slow down another. There is an infinite number of potential futures — of ourselves, of individuals and of humanity. It is possible to shape that future by altering the probability streams perhaps by introducing something new. Freshwater scarcity in that framework is a grand challenge we have to solve before it is too late,” he added.
Hydroquo+ has successfully collaborated with Dhaka Wasa and the Central Microbiology Laboratory on two different projects.
Based on the success, Chittagong Wasa as well as the Chittagong Port Authority and MENA region, have also expressed their interests in doing pilot projects with Hydroquo+.
At present, the start-up is working on transitioning towards the implementation of tracing technology for private water supply, as well as city and regional level utilities.
Hydroquo+ is also incorporating the technology in the commercial filtration process, for example, in the water treatment plants, pharmaceutical, agricultural, and food and beverage processing industries.
Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) and water treatment plants can also potentially benefit from the technology, according to Razeen.
The water industry is one of the hardest industries to operate in due to long procurement cycles and lead times.
“90% of water start-up companies do not survive the valley of death,” he says.
In the beginning, he was the company’s engineer, facilitator, and commercial viability partner. As first movers, they had to operate at a breakneck speed to comply with one utility demand after another and that too frugally with scarce resources.
He was having to play multiple roles because of the lack of understanding among people about the projects they were working with.
“The authorities appreciated our relentless efforts and have cooperated with prompt responses,” Razeen said.
Currently, the duo is in the process of closing a round for scaling up, and eventually, sometime in the future, they plan to branch out to different industry verticals in the Global South and MENA regions.
This year, they made it to the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list.
“Last year was, however, a landmark year as I was selected as one of the 17 United Nations Young Leaders on a two-year mandate by the UN Secretary General’s Office, being the only Bangladeshi in the last four years,” Razeen told Dhaka Tribune.
“Hydroquo+ bagged the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Engineer 4Change (E4C) Rising star Award at New York’s Annual Impact Engineered Summit that brought together worlds innovative startups working to solve SDG’s. Forbes was a cascading effect of all the work we had done,” he further said.
High-Level Political Forum On Sustainable Development 2021
Hydroquo+ is a Dhaka based Hi-tech start-up that merged the idea of artificial intelligence (AI) with water management to evaluate water quality
Hydroquo+ team developed an intelligent I-IoT-based system (I-IoT: Internet of Things) to monitor water quality. Photo: Courtesy
Twenty-three-year-old Zahin Razeen is an entrepreneur and a futurist who dreams of changing the water management system in Bangladesh.
He realised at an early age that freshwater would become a scarce resource with each passing day. Also, water-borne diseases were a scourge for our country and technology could be used intelligently and efficiently to address this problem.
To this end, he, along with his sister, knocked on several doors with their idea. However, to their great disappointment, nobody took an interest.
But the founders of Hydroquo+, Zahin and Rizvana Hredita, decided to follow their passion regardless.
Eventually, in 2019, they found a willing listener in none other than Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority. Teaming up with the government agency responsible for supplying water to city residents, Hydroquo+ set up a mechanism to test water quality in 10 pipelines of different areas in the city.
So far, Hydroquo+ has successfully collaborated with Dhaka Wasa and the Central Microbiology Laboratory in two projects.
Chittagong Wasa, as well as the Chittagong Port Authority and MENA region have also expressed interest in doing pilot projects with Hydroquo+.
At present, they are researching the implementation of their tracing and filtration technology for private water supply, as well as city and regional level utilities.
They are also incorporating their technology in the commercial filtration process, for example, in the pharmaceutical industries or the food and beverage procession industries.
ETPs and water treatment plants can also potentially benefit from their technology.
The siblings, meanwhile, were recently catapulted into the spotlight thanks to their inclusion in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia for their venture Hydroquo+.
\So what is Hydroquo+?
Hydroquo+ is a Dhaka based hi-tech start-up.
The team at Hydroquo+ have developed an intelligent I-IoT-based system (I-IoT: Industrial Internet of Things) that monitors water hygiene and provides clients with conservation metrics based on M2M (machine to machine) communication.
The system receives the input from the sensor where parameters like turbidity, chlorine, pH, connectivity, pressure etc are connected and machine learning algorithms are employed for predicting the water quality based on a trained data set.
The trained data set and forecasted data are kept on a cloud server, which is interoperable through smartphones, desktops and tablets.
This has resulted in a fully automated water quality monitoring system that uses IoT technologies to communicate among devices in order to anticipate water quality for the residential area.
“When a doctor sees an x-ray report, they can easily diagnose a condition. Similarly, with the capacity of diagnosing water, one can understand where the contaminated water is coming from or detect a problematic pH level, Turbidity, Total organic Carbon, Dissolved organic carbon and Free chlorine easily. So, we invented Hydroquo+,” said Zahin.
“Conducting the same tests in Buet will cost more time and money. But our system aims to deliver results at only Tk 1.5 within a very short time,” he added.
After successfully finishing the pilot process of online monitoring of water, the Hydroquo+ team aims to work area-wise to make this advanced system more effective.
The motivation for the founders
What drove Zahin and Rizvana to form Hydroquo+ was the urge to save Bangladesh from the freshwater crisis. Rizvana even left Canada to come and help her brother pursue the start-up.
Zahin explained, “Water industry is the most difficult industry to operate in because it takes a long time to even finish the pre-planning process. But we have dared to challenge the stereotype as a very high functional tech company.”
“There are only three international companies like us who work for the improvement of the overall infrastructure of the water resource management system, that too in a different capacity than ours,” he added.
From the start of his student life, Zahin had taken an interest in studying various fields. After much research, he found out that in the future, if World War III takes place, water would be one of the prime reasons behind it.
He believes that Bangladesh has abundant water resources. And to save the country from the anticipated scarcity and existing pollution, a sustainable infrastructure is needed to preserve our water as we grow economically.
The Hydroquo+ team consists of 10 people including Zahin as the CEO and Rizvana as the COO. Four of the members are foreigners.
The founder outsourced the full-stack industrial grade system from Austria. During the deployment phase the team underwent rigorous project based training.
Even though the team is small, the members are experts in different fields like astrophysics, chemistry, electrical engineering etc.
Is it commercially viable?
In entrepreneurship, behavioural challenges and financial challenges are common. Hydroquo+ was no exception.
Nonetheless, this venture has commercial viability as well as the power to impact the lives of millions.
“When you initiate something different in the market where the potential is hidden, it is common to get rejections. Not everyone could comprehend the unique approach we were advocating at the beginning. Also, my final product was not ready when we started our venture. As a result, it was difficult to get investors,” says Zahin.
“However, I always believed that the water industry with a market of over six billion can lead one day. Those who once rejected the idea have now started to believe in it,” Zahin shared with us.
Hydroquo+’s journey in the market has just begun and it aims to level up by reinforcing its current credentials.
When we asked the founder about their future vision, he said, “We want to build a circular water industry by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence algorithms and big data analytics to maximise information and data available. It will help to improve the quality of water worldwide and prevent outbreaks of waterborne disease.”
Zahin is hopeful about the future.
“I hope that we soon enough cross the phase of behavioural awareness so that people can understand the necessity of this industry. For that, we need national and global effort. We need to adapt this technology at an industrial level so that we can be ready before the water crisis begins,” Zahin went on.
Zahin Razeen’s ideology to be a successful entrepreneur is to relentlessly pursue and ruthlessly execute.
“An entrepreneurial spirit should never die because of rejections. S/he should not stop pursuing his/her dreams unless death comes in their way. I was my company’s engineer, facilitator, and commercial viability partner. In short, I played multiple roles because there was a lack of understanding among people about my project. But it did not dishearten me, I was tenaciously working to bring something that can be a big solution to a big problem,” he concluded.
Zahin Razeen, a graduate of the University of Glasgow, has been utilising technology to make a positive impact on society and the environment. He has built four technology companies, such as Hydroquo+ and Quantum Polychemics, which address water-related challenges and the demand for sustainable plastics.
তিন বাংলাদেশি পেলেন ইউকে অ্যালামনাই অ্যাওয়ার্ড
অন্ট্রাপ্রেনিয়াল ক্যাটাগরিতে অ্যাওয়ার্ড পান জাহিন রাজিন। ইউনিভার্সিটি অব গ্লাসগো থেকে স্নাতক করা জাহিন প্রযুক্তির সাহায্যে সমাজ ও পরিবেশে ইতিবাচক পরিবর্তন সাধনের লক্ষ্যে কাজ করছেন। তাঁর হাত ধরে যাত্রা শুরু হয় হাইড্রোকুয়ো প্লাস এবং কোয়ান্টাম পলিকেমিকসের মতো চারটি প্রতিষ্ঠান। যেগুলোর প্রধান লক্ষ্য হলো পানিসম্পর্কিত চ্যালেঞ্জ এবং টেকসই প্লাস্টিকের চাহিদা নিয়ে গভীরভাবে কাজ করা।
Tothyo Projuktir Duniya | তথ্য-প্রযুক্তির দুনিয়া |NTV
Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2021
Hydroquo+ is a Dhaka-based startup that uses AI to improve water management. Founded in 2018, Hydroquo+ has developed systems and technology to detect germs in water and analyze water quality. The company also consults for government agencies and NGOs on water-quality modeling. In September, Razeen, CEO of Hydroquo+, was named one of the United Nations’ 17 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals who are leading efforts to combat the world’s most pressing issues.
For the first time, a total of nine Bangladeshis have made the ‘Forbes 30 under 30′ Asia list. Launched in 2011, by the prestigious business magazine Forbes, the ’30 under 30’ lists the thirty movers of shakers under the age of thirty. From 2016 till 2020, a total of nine Bangladeshis got themselves listed for their outstanding work. This year alone nine Bangladeshis under the age of thirty got listed for their work in three sectors: enterprise technology, social impact & retail & e-commerce.