Pani Raises $ 2.3 Million in Seed Funding to Market Its “Keurig for Water”
After a month of building a water well in a small village in Nepal, Allen Tsai developed a new appreciation for water.
When he returned home to Austin, he launched Pani – the Hindi word for “water” – with the goal of personalizing water with flavorings and nutritional supplements.
âNo one has really thought about how to improve the drinking water experience,â he said. âThat’s what we want to do: reinvent the drinking water experience. “
The company’s flagship product is Pani Source, which Tsai says is the world’s first technological âwater personalization productâ that not only filters chlorine, lead and pesticides from water, but also “remineralizes” water with magnesium, calcium and potassium. .
Some investors have called it the âKeurig for Water,â Tsai said, because it enhances water with naturally formulated pods that add electrolytes and vitamin B12 after a workout, for example, or melatonin and chamomile before bed.
Other pod options include probiotics for gut health, CBD for inflammation, and collagen for joint health.
The device has three pod chambers, allowing users to supplement nutritional supplements with flavor pods, such as pomegranate, lemon, and sweet tea.
If the product takes off as Tsai expects, he is considering third-party companies offering their own pods for the Pani source, in the same way that Starbucks and Dunkin ‘Donuts make Keurig pods.
Unlike other single-use plastic pods, Pani pods are made with recyclable and compostable materials that can be used 10-30 times.
The Pani Source can also dispense hot water at precise temperatures, making it convenient for brewing coffee and tea.
The Pani Source smart device tracks the status of the filter and reminds users when the filter needs to be changed. A mobile app syncs with the device, allowing users to monitor water quality, track pod usage, and reorder brew pods.
Backed by Austin Tech A-Listers
Pani has already gained attention in the consumer packaged goods industry.
Tsai said he heard from large filtration companies, consumer staples conglomerates and appliance companies interested in acquiring, financing or partnering with Pani.
While these offers were tempting, Tsai turned down an early paycheck to see his idea come to fruition.
âWe think it could be a billion dollar opportunity if we do this thing right,â he said. “We’re going to take this thing all the way.”
Pani said on Friday it had raised $ 2.3 million in an oversubscribed fundraiser, bringing the company’s total fundraising to $ 3.5 million.
The funding will be used to transform the prototype into a ready-to-manufacture product.
Tsai, who has lived in Austin for eight years, has accepted investments from Austin figures such as Blake Chandlee, president of global business solutions at TikTok; Clayton Christopher, founder of Deep Eddy Vodka and Sweet Leaf Tea; the founder of Silicon Labs, Nav Sooch; Daniel Cooley, Technical Director of Silicon Labs; Brett Hurt, co-founder of data.world and Bazaarvoice; and Capital Factory founder Josh Baer.
Build the team
Another investor is Bob McCall, former vice president of research and development at Keurig. McCall introduced Tsai to the people who would complement his management team. Rick Cafaro, the company’s vice president of engineering, previously worked at Keurig and DrinkWorks while Patricia Carulli-Hauser, its vice president of drinks and enhancers R&D, worked at Pepsi, Kraft and Keurig.
âBetween Rick, Patty and Bob, all three were instrumental in transforming Keurig Dr. Pepper into the $ 20 billion giant that he is today,â he said.
Tsai, who has held senior positions at Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, comes from an electrical engineering background and eventually moved on to the commercial side. He has spent over 20 years creating consumer electronics products, from chips and software to mobile apps and the cloud.
Pani is his sixth startup. Over the next year, Tsai plans to hire a packaging engineer and a lab technician.
As Pani grows up, Tsai said it was important for him to continue funding clean water projects in Nepal, India, Kenya and other places around the world without clean water.