Developing innovative solutions for water conservation

Sundeep Donthamshetty (MSc Intelligent Information Systems, 2013) is the co-founder and director of WEGoT Utility Solutions Pvt, a state-of-the-art technology start-up focused on water, electricity and gas conservation in India.

Having worked in IT across a range of sectors for more than a decade, Sundeep was keen to enhance his skills. He came across the part-time MA in Intelligent Information Systems in 2008 and recalls: “It excited me enormously and I enrolled myself without a second thought. This course paved the way for my career change.”

After completing his MSc in 2013, and having spent 13 years living and working in the UK, he moved back to his hometown of Chennai, India – an area which has always battled with acute water shortages. Two years after returning, having witnessed the impacts of urban population growth, depleting ground water sources and the shrinking of water bodies first-hand, Sundeep and three of his friends decided to do something about it. In 2015 they founded WEGoT Utility solutions, with the aim of conserving water and creating new solutions to this problem. “We hit upon the simple solution of trying to decrease the demand by making every consumer directly responsible for their own use.”

Sundeep shares that one of the biggest challenges facing water conservation is lack of data. To monitor usage and increase accountability, the team designed and installed smart water meters at every water inlet and consistently observed the usage.

WEGoT designed and developed a sensor-based ‘smart water’ meter that sends relevant data to the user almost at real-time, allowing users to know how much, where and the purpose for which they are consuming this resource.

“By tracking, we could monitor individual usage and usage patterns, and take conscious decisions to reduce consumption. Another major win of this monitoring was the ability to pinpoint leaks, which usually went unnoticed in locked households, thereby exacerbating the water shortage.”

In 2019, the company announced that it had raised $2 million in seed funding to strengthen its product and technology, and focus on geographical expansion across India. They have since expanded to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai and other cities, and have developed their product into a complete water management system. By pairing the initial hardware with a software platform called ‘VenAqua’, they are able to reduce the demand for water by tracking real-time flow.

To date, WEGoT has saved over 3 billion litres of water. By pivoting to offer their solutions to industrial and commercial customers, they have been able to significantly increase their reach and capacity for conserving water.

Sundeep (right) with his family, 2019.

“Working full time and supporting my growing family while studying part-time was gruelling to say the least. But I must say, it was one of my best decisions ever! This course not only equipped me with the knowledge, but also gave me the confidence to start a company on my own and become an entrepreneur.”