Explain your project in details:
Evaptainers creates low-cost mobile refrigerators that run on water. These are perfect for low income families, as it costs only 30$/unit, who live off grid or cannot afford a conventional refrigerator. Moreover, our devices also help create a greener planet. Evaporative cooling as a technique has been employed successfully for centuries in products like the Pot-in-Pot refrigerator or Coolgardie safe. Proven to be effective for cooling at the point of production, these devices have been known to triple or quadruple the shelf-life of most produce. Our company uses our own proprietary “PhaseTek” technology - a lightweight fabric membrane that simulates the evaporative cooling effects of Zeer pots – to achieve the same benefits without relying on fragile ceramic pottery. Therefore, using state-of-the art materials and improved design, we’ve created a more effective and scalable clean energy refrigeration solution, enabling the cold chain to reach farther than ever before.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
The first recipients of the Evaptainers devices were an Amazigh family living in the Middle Atlas Mountains without any electricity. They have been using it everyday for the last 14 months and they love it. They live in such a remote area that they have to take a 2-3 hour taxi ride to go to the nearest town for food and groceries. Now, since receiving the units , they buy more food in bulk and it lasts longer s a result, they get to spend more time family and taking care of their farm rather than spending the day to and from the souk and they have reported saving 5-10% of their monthly income. While our pilot tests are commencing in Morocco, we believe our solution will be relevant far beyond, such as in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, the MENA region, and throughout India as well. In total, we estimate that there are over 650 million potential beneficiaries who could use our device. We arrived at this number by looking at the cross section of the world that lacked access to electricity that also lived in areas with lower than 60% average humidity throughout the year.
Sustainability and future plans
Our ultimate vision for the company is a socially-driven for-profit model with sales in high end retail markets in U.S. and Australia used to subsidize our mission driven distribution model in markets throughout the developing world. There are two strong reasons for this model. First is the wealth of experiences and connections we have in the U.S. outdoor market - Spencer Taylor, Serena Taylor and Josh Guyot all have backgrounds in the outdoor high end retail industry. They have brought products to market and worked on web based and brick and mortar sales operations. With this experience, they bring existing relationships and industry knowledge that will be the cornerstone of our US product launch. Secondly, the interest for our product in the U.S. can be used beneficially to offset the higher cost of distributing products throughout rural Africa. We are planning an MSRP of around $75-80 for our High-End Market Division (HEMD). This is represents the lower end for the price of coolers and ice-chests found in most specialty athletics and outdoor stores. In our Developing Markets Division (DMD), the consumer price point would be just $30. This lower price point would actually still net a positive gross margin for the company - compared against an estimated cost of $15 per unit - but would be significantly lower than the U.S. price to allow for a greater number of rural consumers to access our device
Your profile as an entrepreneur
Quang D. Truong:"I'm currently 30 years old and lucky enough to be working on this project full time. I initially came up with the idea for Evaptainers at an MIT class called "Development Ventures." During the very first lecture, our professor challenged students to come up with a sustainable business solution that “could benefit at least 1 billion people.” Obviously, this dare was meant to be provocative and stimulate out-of-the-box ideas; but rather than being fazed at the task, I thought of my own experience working in developing countries and thought about the high costs of food spoilage for producers and consumers. I also thought of my travels throughout the world, where I witnessed firsthand traditional evaporative cooling devices, such as Zeer Pots, ZECCs and Coolgardie Safes used successfully to address spoilage. My “aha!” moment was realizing that in Boston (and at MIT) there had to be high-tech materials that could enhance and modernize these traditional devices so that they could be used by more people. Throughout my 3 years working on this project, I’ve gotten the opportunity to follow my passions, live in Morocco, talk to many farmers and off-grid community members that experience food spoilage, and finally, learn through them about the ways I could make my device more effective. There have been many challenges as well, but one factor that has kept our team moving forward is the sincere belief that our invention has the potential to one day help countless families that still lack refrigeration."