Local Startup Seeks to Eliminate Water Waste

Karl Appel’s career is in the toilet — and he couldn’t be happier.

An Albany-based startup aims to eliminate water waste with a new product called ‘FirstDrops.’ The team behind it at Mobius Labs says the device can help users save a lot of money.

“Especially since this is the first time we’ve put this one in this particular toilet,” Appel said, connecting a device he helped create to a toilet.

Appel is lead developer for Mobius Labs. The RPI grad is helping design a product the size of a smartphone that could limit wasted water, potentially saving property managers thousands.

“It is a huge issue. In fact, a running toilet can cost up to $36 a day,” Appel said.

‘FirstDrops’ is designed for use in hotels and college dorms, with the devices attaching to sinks and toilets. Data on water use is collected to determine when and where problems pop-up.

“One in 20-25 rooms have some sort of problem in it, and that’s really where our value is,” Appel said.

Leaks are expensive, but also inevitable. Appel developed artificial intelligence to help predict when a problem might occur.

“It can determine behavioral patterns like, [a] toilet running once a day at certain intervals and [if] that could be a particular value issue,” Appel said.

‘FirstDrops’ is available for pre-order, with a release expected in the first half of 2019. Dozens of devices are being tested in hotels right now.

Their company is limiting loss of a precious resource while preventing money from going down the drain. Appel has a handle on growth and sees endless potential.  

“A billion toilets. I am looking to be here for one billion. I am shooting for the stars, but I’m OK with that,” Appel said.