Strauss Water CEO Rami Ronen.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As an MBA student in China, I was awestruck with the Great Wall of
China, and impressed by talented entrepreneurs who were driving its
economy to new frontiers. For all our differences, we had so much in
Over one billion people around the world, including 300
million in China also share something in common - they lack safe
Building on Israel's long tradition of making the
desert bloom, researchers at The Weizmann Institute and Hebrew
University of Jerusalem developed MAZE. The revolutionary water
purification technology that makes easy and affordable purifier water.
water purifiers use several different devices to purify water, whereas
the Maze purifier integrates all purification phases into one device.
The system removes metals, bacteria and organic material.Diagram of how the water purifier works
order to take the technology from the laboratory to the world, the team
sold MAZE to Strauss Water. Could this be the solution that the world
needs to find clean drinking water? To find out, I spoke with Rami
Ronen, the CEO of Strauss Water.
For the past six years Ronen has been looking for ways to take the purifier global, spending much of his time in China.
to improve people's lives by providing quality water, Ronen sees more
that just making a financial profit. "The people who are behind the
technology want to do something bold in business, and also to do
something good. Water purification improves the lives of people. It is
a fast growing segment, and a major issue globally."
the same time, the purifier saves tons of plastic bottles from reaching
the landfills. Ronen explains that the purification system is used in
four to five hundred thousand households in Israel, serving about two
and a half million people. Before using the MAZE system, families would
buy bottled water. Now they simply fill their glasses at the sink.
asks: "Do you know how many plastic water bottles are thrown away each
year? Do you know how many plastic bottles we save from the
landfills?"Insights into success
attributes much of his success to teamwork with wonderful people. "We
work in teams, it is always a group effort. We have a multidisciplinary
team of people from science, engineering, and marketing."
Israel as the Start-Up Nation, Ronen notes that people usually think of
the high-tech sector, but they take it for granted that every home has
running water despite the challenge that most of Israel is a desert
with limited freshwater resources. "We have a strong tradition of
innovation in water technology and business development."
has an eye on China but his goal is more than just building a great
business. Last year Strauss Water formed a partnership to develop a
purifier for the Chinese market, which will make it the first Israeli
brand to be sold as a retail product in China. "It makes me proud to
see our product on sale in Shanghai. It makes me proud to see Chinese
using Israeli made water purification devices." Advice for the next generation of innovators
advises young innovators and entrepreneurs to be passionate and daring
innovators. "You don't innovate in a place where you are comfortable."
also encourages innovators to make room for failure as part of the
process. "If you don't let people fail then they will not try. The
Start-Up Nation is about taking risk. You must know that risk has a
downside. People associate risk with success, but it also includes
He challenges entrepreneurs to shift their focus from
North America and Europe towards Asia. "China and India will be the
biggest consumer markets in the world."
Regarding overcoming the
massive size, new language and competition of the Chinese market, he
explains, "It is a long term play that takes time to penetrate. You need
to know the right people and how to do your business. What you see is
not what you get. You need to read between the lines."
team of Israeli innovators who experimented until their water
purification system worked, Ronen experiments in entering the Chinese
Perhaps the most amazing sight in modern China will not
be massive factories or skyscrapers, but rather a glass of clean water
that began with the need to make Israel's desert bloom.
Joseph J Sherman is a business adviser and professional speaker.