The innovation is aimed at shopping centres or malls, hotels as well as medical centres and hospitals.
Ntando was born and raised in KZN, an innovator at heart, with a passion for environmental sustainability and green living. He is an extrovert, who loves comedy and spending time with his family. Ntando is currently pursuing a postgraduate diploma in International Shipping at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). He has travelled a meandering path to get to this point; growing up Ntando's dream was to become a commercial pilot. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints he was unable to attend flight school. This led him to study mechanical engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. A year later however, he decided to pursue nautical studies at DUT in 2016. It was during his first year at DUT that Ntando registered his business and started developing this innovation.
HyDrop is a foot operated tap, which has been designed to save up to 74% of water and optimise hygiene. It works by a person using their foot to press a foot pedal which dispenses water and stops when the foot is removed from the pedal. It is non-electronic and works on simple principles of mechanics.
What problem/s are you trying to address with your innovation?
The innovation addresses water wastage and cross contamination through taps. The HyDrop puts an end to water leaks when taps are not closed properly or left open. Furthermore, ordinary taps have a high water discharge rate, dispensing water at an average of 15 litres per minute. The HyDrop is designed to save up to 74% of water. This is accomplished by reducing the water flow rate through taps to a maximum of 4 litres per minute and making sure that taps are never left open. Secondly, research shows that 80% of communicable diseases are spread through touch. So we asked ourselves, why it is most taps are designed in such a way that you have to open and close them with your hands. Since HyDrop is foot operated, this makes the it even more valuable in the times of the COVID -19 pandemic, ensuring a 100% hands free environment, thereby addressing the issue of cross-contamination through taps.
What has been the toughest challenge/s to overcome in your innovation journey?
The toughest challenge has been sourcing funds and strategic partners to assist in the development and introduction of the product into the market. However, through the support we have received from Innovate Durban and DUT Entrepreneurial Centre and Desk we have been able to develop prototypes and design our final product which is currently in production. Presently, we are looking at various funding mechanisms and partnerships to help us achieve this.
Where do you see yourself and your innovation in 5 years’ time?
We see ourselves being prominent and world class tap manufacturers and suppliers in South Africa. We are working to totally infiltrate the tap market, we want to be the 'Mercedes-Benz' of taps, offering value and uniqueness. We are an innovation-based company and we see ourselves creating and releasing more innovations to add value to our customers' lives and contribute to sustainability.
What has been the biggest lesson so far?
Financial management is critical, particularly using money sparingly and wisely. In other words, it is important to prioritise expenditure according to activities that will move the business forward. Additionally, it is important to set goals and set daily tasks which will help to achieve these larger goals.
Do something you are are passionate about; set goals and work everyday to achieve them. Have perseverance and the passion to achieve long-term goals. Everything is possible, particularly if you seek advice and mentorship and always invest time and money in your innovation.
We entered various competitions and innovation challenges, and joined and became members of incubators. Since 2016, we have won 3 competitions and are currently in the top 5 of the Ithala Bank Inkunzi Esematholeni Innovation Competition. From these competitions and incubators we have been able to raise well over R120 000 which has significantly assisted us to get where we are today. From these, we have also received business coaching, and mentorship from industry experts.