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May 31, 2006
The Next Green Thing: Clean Water
At the TiECon conference in Santa Clara (Calif.) two weeks ago, John Doerr, partner at VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, gave entrepreneurs a hint about the kind of company he'd like to fund next. "I'd love to find a company that can make a big-scale difference about clean water," he said. "Today, 10,000 people die per day because they choke to death on their own vomit. They have dysentery because they don't have clean water." Though Doerr would "love to find" such a company, perhaps he has already heard of Crystal Clear Technologies, Inc., an 18-month-old startup based in KPCB's hometown of Menlo Park (Calif.).
CCT is developing a low-cost water purifier that removes biological and chemical contaminants by using a solar-powered ultraviolet lamp and adsorbents covered with nano-coatings. The company claims its portable unit can purify 120,000 liters of water at $0.0003/liter, making it affordable to the non-developed and developed worlds alike. CCT has teamed with nonprofits To Love Children and Engineers Without Borders to bring affordable clean water to poor countries.
CCT Co-founder and CEO James M. Harris has a Ph.D. in materials science from MIT. Most recently, he was CEO at Redwood Microsystems, Inc., maker of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) valves. One caveat: In the early '90s, Harris founded and took public air and water purification company Purus, Inc., which wound up getting sued and going bankrupt after its product proved defective. I don't know the whole story, but potential investors will want to look into it. CCT has presented at a few angel investor clubs, but the company has not yet raised any funding that I know of.
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