How much water have you had today? If you have no idea, you’re in the vast majority of people and the inspiration for juniors Max Irvine, Parker Payne, Carson Myers and Seth Swiecichowski’s award-winning social entrepreneurship idea: SIP, the water bottle with a brain.
In conjunction with the Isdell Center for Global Leadership
(ICGL), the second annual Social Entrepreneurship Challenge’s theme was water. Participants in the 2014-2015 Challenge were tasked with developing an innovative solution to Georgia’s water issues, taking into account the quadruple bottom line: purpose, people, planet and profit. Students partnered with the Mayor’s Office, the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management and Conserve Water Georgia to develop their ideas, and the winning team received $10,000 as seed money to start its business.
Irvine, Payne, Myers and Swiecichowski all run cross-country and track, so they were well versed in the importance of hydration. After learning that more than 90 percent of people fail to consume enough water during the day, the idea for SIP was born.
SIP is a water bottle that connects with a smartphone or computer to track daily water consumption, monitor water temperature and notify users when to “SIP” for optimal hydration. The app is third-party compatible and connects with fitness apps like Fitbit, Nike Fuel and Apple Health to provide information about fluid consumption automatically, rather than require that consumers enter information manually.
The first prototype, SIP 1.0, used a standard irrigation meter, a camelback water bottle, a wall outlet and a platform called Arduino. The bottle connected to a computer over Ethernet to monitor water flow, but it was bulky and inaccurate. The team went back to the drawing board and created SIP 2.0, which tracks water consumption more accurately with a Bluetooth low-energy module.
SIP will be sold for $35, a small price compared to the $200 price tag of its only competitor. The SIP team hopes to partner with local businesses such as West Stride, Flywheel and Mountain High Outfitters, before moving on to larger retailers like REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
All four members of SIP have found that this process changed their lives. "Entrepreneurship is a whole different world," Irvine explains. "Entrepreneurship is success. Entrepreneurship is failure. Entrepreneurship is all these different things that make you think and act in an entirely new way. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to experience all of these situations this year. Ultimately, this process has changed our thinking and paradigm; we don’t operate as we did before the challenge. It’s a change that can only be experienced through a process like the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge."
So, who’s ready for a SIP?
– by Hannah Kelly ’15