Meet the entrepreneurs of the Booking Booster programme. Get to William and Alexei from Desolenator who make our oceans drinkable, using only the power of the sun.
William Janssen - CEO
“I have over 25 years of experience in business development and project management with extensive international experience. My key expertise areas range from sales and marketing, through project management into business development and product development. I had been working in Asia and the Middle East for the past 20 years on infrastructure projects and was working in Abu Dhabi for a Dutch interior fit-pout company, when I had this eureka moment and have since focused on making Desolenator a success.”
Alexei Levene - Co-founder and Interim Chair
"At base it’s important to have a vision that is inspiring, that motivates people and that is inherently around the net benefit of beings on this planet. Early on in my career I helped to establish Unfrozenmind, an award winning strategy-boutique company based in Paris. Bridging Eastern and Western psychology, Virtual Worlds, Leadership and organisational design for many organisations around the world.
I was an early supporter of Abundance, an FCA regulated crowdfunding platform in the UK that enables people to invest directly into renewable energy projects. My heart has always been in India and wanting to give back I spent a year working with a Kerala based NGO named Kanthari. I've supported them with curriculum development, rebranding and I worked with 18 aspirational social entrepreneurs to help them find social enterprises in their respective companies. After co-founding social enterprise ixSpark I met William and started to help him set up Desolenator."
How did your Desolenator story begin?
Alexei: “Two-third of our planet is covered with water yet we are facing a global water crisis. William was introduced to me via a mutual friend Arnoud who saw that I was engaged in clean energy product development over Facebook, whilst in India. We had a video skype call where William explained the concept of Desolenator and I talked about my work in India. Something clicked and soon William was on a plane to India! We spent a week together and between mapping out the project we quickly liked each other, shared several beers looking out over the fantastic Keralan sunsets and by the end of the trip had a plan to get started. From there we started to prototype Desolenator and we were supported by a local University who sent across 6 engineering students to support the initial research”.
What is your dream for Desolenator?
That Desolenator products play a significant role in addressing the global water crisis.
What makes your product so unique?
Desolenator can purify water from any source using only solar power. Household Purifiers (i.e ‘Pureit’, ‘Aquaguard’) are grid dependent and cannot handle saline or seawater. They will also usually not remove arsenic, nitrate or fluoride contamination. Solar desalination units (PV-RO, solar stills, Watly) are either too costly ($30,000+) or have very small yields (3 Litres per day). Multi-stage flash desalination (MFSD) & Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants currently consume 0.7% of global energy supply and have huge upfront infrastructure costs. Water trucks have a significant cost in terms of energy consumption (carbon footprint), environmental impact and end user pricing, as well as unreliable water quality and an intermittent delivery schedule. Bottled Water is expensive and the plastic has devastating environmental impact. This is an arena in desperate need of innovation. We believe that Desolenator can provide a sustainable alternative that benefits both people and planet.
Tell us a bit more about the impact you make and why is it so important?
Fresh water is the biggest resource crisis we are facing, tomorrow's problems are at our doorstep today. Our goal is to help combat this crisis with clean innovative technology. We hope to provide a sustainable alternative to water production for island hotels.
We want to help travellers enjoy their stay in new and exciting destinations, but for them to leave it ready for the next visitors. The average consumption of plastic bottles for a single resort in the Maldives is around 420,000 bottles a year, and much of this plastic ends up in oceans, damaging ecosystems. Can you imagine breaking the cycle of disposable materials, by staying in hotels, communities and homestays with a sustainable water solution? Our technology can provide the means, but we need other people to play their parts and travel responsibly. We are so excited to work with Booking.com to help bring the water crisis into the tourism conscience.
What do you want to tell people that are booking their next trip?
Be conscious, be aware. Support hotels that are trying to do good - you are part of the solution too!