After two years in development, this week Tern Water rolled out pre-orders for its flagship product, a connected faucet attachment that measures water consumption and filter quality and promises to track tap water quality in real time.
The startup, founded in 2016 Drexel grads Mohamed Zerban and Connor White, launched an Indiegogo campaign for the product, which will begin shipping in April. Coupled with an app, the faucet will alert users when the filter and batteries need to be swapped, automatically shipping replacements to customer’s homes.
The unit’s introductory price is $125, with a free three-month subscription to the company’s service, which includes the replacements. After, that the service runs users $10 a month. After April, the units will run $250.
According to Zerban, the pitch on why the more-expensive connected unit is better than traditional water filters comes down to real-time water quality monitoring and filtration that’s specific to the compounds found in local tap water.
“Specific filtration is huge,” Zerban said. “No one in the industry does anything of that sort.”
The company got in some hot water with a city agency earlier this year: The Philadelphia Water Department cited concerns about a report on local water quality released by the startup. “They’re not an accredited lab,” spokesperson Joanne Dahme told Technical.ly.
PWD’s 2017 report on water quality, released this spring, says Philly’s water has no contaminants above recommended federal levels, after testing for close to 100 different compounds, while Tern’s report found that 90 percent of about 200 tests conducted had at least one risky contaminant; about half of those tests were conducted in Philly.
Thus far, the company’s faucet is being used at around 30 locations in New York and Philly, including offices and coworking spaces (such as 1776 at Pennovation, where the six-person team is based).
“So far we’ve had really good feedback,” Zerban said. “We can ship products as soon as two weeks from now, but we’re waiting to ensure users are getting as optimal an experience as possible.”