The Hydrao revolution
Hydrao is a sustainable and eco-friendly connected showerhead, made in France that reduces water consumption. It does not need batteries because it works with the power of the water flow.
Hydrao lights the shower with different colours according to the amount of water used. The goal is to encourage customers to limit their consumption in a fun and educative way. Under 10 litres, the light is green, between 20 and 50 litres the light is blue then orange and above 50 litres the light becomes red and starts flashing. Nowadays, the average litre consumption per shower is 75 litres. This is way too high because it wastes the planet’s resources. Moreover, consumers spend more money than needed as one shower of 75 litres costs 50cts each time.
Hydrao is connected to an app on your smartphone via Bluetooth. This app shows you how much water you consume on average and how much money you save.
The price is 79 euros, or about 40 euros more than the average traditional shower head. But this is a fair price, because Hydrao allows a family of four to save 224 euros every year.
Who invented the smart shower?
Hydrao was founded by a start-up from Grenoble named Smart’N’Blue. The connected object came from Gabriel Dela Monica, a former engineer in electronics. The company would like to open new offices in the United States of America.
What were the different steps of Hydrao’s creation and sales?
The technology was first launched on the French crowdfunding website KissKissBankBank in 2014. It was financed in 60 days thanks to 222 anonymous people. This first version of Hydrao was sold around 1,000 units. According to the company, this first version helped reduce water consumption by an average of 25%. During the CES (Consumer Electronic Show), which took place in Las Vegas in 2016, Smart’N Blue showed the new version of Hydrao, won many competitions and found local partners. In February 2016, the company was integrated in an accelerator in Boston. It will start on Kickstarter in September before going on sale in February or March next year for around 79€.
Everybody takes a shower so Hydrao has a large area of application. It’s a well-known fact that we nowadays consume a lot of water, especially in Western countries. Water bills can become very expensive. Hydrao can overcome this issue and help companies or private individuals to reduce their water consumption and at the same time, their water bill.
The companies which may want to buy Hydrao and use it on a daily basis to reduce their water bill are hotels, hostel youth, publicly-funded housing, Internet rental companies such as Air BnB, and fitness centres. Using Hydrao showerheads in such companies may give them a positive image and change the habit of their clients. Furthermore, the customer will be more aware of the environment and may be interested into buying the same showerhead.
To illustrate this fact, we can take the example of hotels. The water consumption in hotels varies depending on their standard (one, two, three or four star hotels). For example, in a one star hotel, a customer consumes 75 to 120 litres per day whereas in a four star hotel, a customer consumes 180 to 200 litres. Nevertheless, no matter what the standard is, the water bill remains high. On top of that, in the light of recent events such as the COP 21, the United Nation conference on climate change, in December 2015 in Paris, showing that you are, as a company, trying to reduce your water consumption and be more eco-friendly, can only give you a positive image in the eyes of your customers. So Hydrao can also improve one’s image.
Individuals who may want to buy Hydrao for their personal use are couples or individuals interested in the environmental aspect of wasting less water, well-off people who wish to follow new trends, and finally, big families. The annual water cost for a family of 4 people varies from 300€ to 600€. However it can go up to 1,200€!
In a nutshell, this connected object targets companies and private individuals, helping them to reduce their consumption of water and save money.
The Hydrao technology does not have the characteristics of a disruptive technology. Even though it is something new, it does not disrupt the existing markets and leaders. The connected showerhead is not a radical innovation and does not attract enough customers to replace the current leaders in the showerhead industry. The market of showerheads essentially has remained intact since the appearance of the product. Moreover, the arrival of the Hydrao technology did not lead to a lowering of the prices of showerheads. On the contrary, Hydrao showerheads are more expensive than normal ones since they are connected objects. Hydrao is an incremental innovation, which meets client expectations by improving their control of water consumption compared to traditional showerheads.
Who are the leaders?
In the same industry, other brands offer showerheads reducing water consumption but they don’t necessarily use the same technology as Hydrao. For example, there are, on the market, showerheads which tend to foam water (the German company Hansgrohe) in order to reduce the average consumption from 15-20 litres per minute to 5-8 litres per minute. Another example is the American start up Nebia. Nebia created a showerhead which separates water in many droplets in order to reduce water consumption.
Hydrao’s main competitor is the French firm Cieléo specialized in products reducing water consumption. Cieléo offers to its customers economic showerheads and foaming taps. It is Hydrao’s direct competitors because they offer the same type of products as Hydrao (the “Novaled” shower head reduces water consumption thanks to LEDs). 
Cieléo is not Hydrao’s only competitor. The firm Activ’eau sells a smart water meter, which makes it possible to save 30% on the average water bill. Thanks to this product, the consumer taking a shower can read on the water meter how much water he used since the beginning of his shower. It’s not the same technology as Hydrao but the goal is the same: trying to change the behaviour of people in a more eco-friendly behaviour.
To know if Hydrao is the leader in the sector of economic showerheads we have to compare Hydrao with these main competitors using as criteria the amount of water saved. According to Hydrao’s creators, the product can reduce water consumption up to 25% per shower.
If we compare with Hydrao’s competitors’ promises on their websites, Hydrao is not the leader because it does not have the highest percentage of water saved in the sector. Moreover, Hydrao does not seem to be the leader as there are many other firms on the market which use different methods to satisfy the same needs. Hydrao does not own a large part of the water reducing market in general. However, we have to moderate our comments because the comparison is fair only with similar products. Hydrao tends to change the behaviour of the consumer but the product itself does not reduce water consumption. Other brands reduce water consumption without any direct human intervention.
Are these leaders the ones who created the value?
The creator, Gabriel Dela Monica, analysed the fact that nothing existed before to reduce the consumption of water during a shower. He invented a new technology to contribute to the reduction of water in the world. When you take a shower, you consume 75 litres of water, which costs 50 cents. 40% of the water consumption of a household comes from showering.
We are not able to determine exactly the financial value because the income statement is not available online. Based on the revenue, which is 296,780€, and the price of the product, which is sold at 79€, we have estimated that the company has sold 3,005 products.
All the other leaders of showerheads that reduce water consumption are the creators of their own products. That’s why we will only discuss about Cieléo who is our main competitor because it’s based on the same technology, the LEDs, and the same segment. The other leaders use different technology.
The Cieléo’s showerhead NovoLED measures the quantity of water used but also the time spent in the shower. This product was created in 2012 and patented globally. The product has an intake valve, which reduces the water flow to 10L/min (the intake valve for a regular shower is 15-20L/min). The generator of the system is ecological because it works thanks to the power of the water. Thanks to its LED system, the colour of the showerhead changes according to the time and the number of litres of water used: the first 3 minutes in green, the next 2 minutes in yellow and the 6th minute in red.
Appropriability of Hydrao
Our technology has a strong appropriability regime since our technology is patented. The patent is the best way for Smart’N’Blue to create value for its product. Without this patent, the appropriability regime of the innovation would be weak because it is something easy to imitate since each component of Hydrao already exists on the market.
Because of insufficient monetary funds, which can be explained by the novelty of the start-up, Smart’N’Blue has limited marketing capabilities. As the company was created recently, the only distributor is the company itself through its website. Not selling the Hydrao showerheads in appliance stores is a weakness for the company. Developing a partnership with a retailer in the future would be a real complementary asset. As the aim of the technology is to control water consumption and decrease the costs, Hydrao has a real utility for customers. Moreover, a few newspapers and TV channels have shown support to the brand and have published positive reviews. However, despite all that, Smart’N’Blue’s brand image is still weak. Because of an insufficient marketing campaign, the product lacks of visibility.
As we saw, there are many competitors on the water-saving showerhead market. We are now in a phase where there are many product innovations: every competitor invents different ways to save water when taking a shower. The dominant design of this type of showerhead has not yet appeared. On the Utterback and Abernathy’s model, all the showerheads that are invented to save water are in the fluid phase. When a dominant design will have appeared, the firms will invest in specialized equipment so that the production system becomes elaborated.
The price of a classic showerhead is around 30 euros whereas Hydrao costs 70 euros. Some people may have mixed feelings about buying the product since Hydrao offers a relatively small advantage compared to the price that the innovative device costs. Moreover, the results of Hydrao’s innovation are not easily observable by the public since the product is not very famous yet and there is not much marketing campaign. At the beginning, this innovation will only be visible in hotels or fitness centres.
However, the technology is compatible since the innovation meets the customer’s eco-friendly value and the complexity of the innovation is low, the system is intuitive, and the application is easy to use. In addition to that, trialability is high: we will be able to test Hydrao in lots of infrastructures like hotels and fitness centres.
If you follow Moore’s crossing the chasm model, the early adopters segment may be hotels and fitness centres because these are public infrastructures and the customers tend to waste water there since it is free. The compelling reason for these companies to buy Hydrao is that the price of the device will be quickly amortized and their water bills will be greatly reduced. The early adopters’ customers will be able to see and try Hydrao in these infrastructures and then they will buy it for their homes if they are satisfied. The chasm between the early adopters and the early majority will therefore be overcome.
 According to the website of the crowdfunding platform: http://www.kisskissbankbank.com/fr/projects/hydrao-la-douche-intelligente-the-smart-shower
 According the PDF “L’eau en hôtellerie et restauration” from ISTHIA (Institut Supérieur du Tourisme, de l’Hôtellerie et l’Alimentation)
 According to société.com’s figure : http://www.societe.com/societe/smart-and-blue-814127148.html
 According to Ciéléo’s website: http://www.cieleo.com/blog/index/billet/5084_pommeau-de-douche-lumineux
 According to Ciéléo’s website :http://www.cieleo.com/blog/index/billet/5084_pommeau-de-douche-lumineux
Article written by : Clara Peyronnet, Vanila Alfa, Flore-Anne Ré, Marie-Anne Massardier, Livia Bourdit, Sophie Saguet.