[Enkel beschikbaar in het Engels]

One in three buildings in Belgium presents costly water leaks each year, and together these leaks account for over 20% of the public water supply. This is happening in times where water scarcity is more on the agenda than ever. Startup Shayp, together with the engineers of Comate, developed a tool to detect water leaks and manage water consumption. The small device doesn’t require Wi-Fi or electricity to operate, and can be installed by anyone in less than five minutes. The POLY4™ can be immediately deployed to prevent water wastage and to save costs.

A huge amount of water is lost every year due to leaks that are not detected or are detected too late. Alexandre McCormack, CEO of Shayp, learned that 95% of leaks go unnoticed or unreported for long periods of time, which accounts for 10 to 60% of an average organization’s water bill. “The main event that pushed me to investigate this further was when I was looking into a water leak at a kindergarten. Lots of children were getting sick at the same time, which turned out to be caused by water damage. We discovered two burst pipes, hidden underneath the building. The leakage had been going on for so long that the place looked like a wet cave that had been there for millions of years,” said McCormack. “How is this possible? I couldn’t believe the leakage went on for that long without being noticed.”

Alexandre decided to look at the solutions that were on the market, but found only complicated and expensive products that were a nightmare to install and use. In 2017, he founded Shayp together with two partners. The mission: develop an innovative device to make the monitoring of water usage and the detection of water leaks easier to prevent water spillage and unnecessary costs.

Smart IoT device

Drawing on their engineering backgrounds, the founders of the Brussels-based startup developed an MVP to demonstrate their idea to investors and first clients. The prototype showed good momentum and an excellent product-market fit. But a prototype is not the same as a commercial device that will be produced a thousand times. To scale up, Shayp decided to partner with the experts from Comate and imec. “Alexandre came to us with a clear mission: to challenge the MVP they already developed and to translate it to a marketable product,” says Wouter Foulon, founder of Comate.

The engineers and designers from Comate began by developing a series of improved prototypes. There were three main challenges: (1) stay below a certain cost in production, (2) make the enclosure waterproof and (3) make sure the device is easy to use and requires as little maintenance as possible.

No need for Wi-Fi, electricity or external installers

After months of close collaboration and hard work, the POLY4 ™ was ready for launch. The device collects water consumption data through a small probe that is placed on the water meter. Water usage is analyzed every 6 minutes. Thanks to its powerful antenna, the POLY4 ™ sends messages to a custom-developed app via radio waves, which allows the user to monitor the water consumption with precision. Leaks or other abnormalities can easily be detected and dealt with before they lead to major costs or water damage. 

The device doesn’t require Wi-Fi or electricity. Thanks to a high-capacity battery and minimal power consumption, the POLY4 ™ lasts more than 10 years on a single charge. When the batteries near the end of their lifespan, the user receives a notification, making it easy to schedule a replacement.

The POLY4 ™ received CE IP67 waterproof level certification. The device can, in addition to immersion in water, handle extreme weather conditions. Even in deep basements, remote fountains, irrigation systems or network water meters, the device remains easy to install. The installation can be done in less than 5 minutes and is very easy, thanks to the immediate verification via the mobile app.

The Comate team, together with Shayp, checked all the requirements of the device. “The drive of the project managers at Comate was great to have in a partner. You could trust them to make sure the project reached its goals. This was in part thanks to their clever methodology and the expertise behind the process,” says Alexandre McCormack.

Manneken pis

After the launch of the POLY4™, the first contracts were quickly set up. The City of Brussels partnered up with Shayp to monitor the water usage in all the buildings, statues and fountains it owned. Thanks to this contract, it was discovered that the iconic fountain sculpture ‘Manneken Pis’ had a water leak. The statue appeared to have been leaking since it was built 300 years ago. “Instead of working with a closed circuit, like a classic fountain, the characteristic statue consumed no less than 55 liters per hour,” says Alexandre McCormack. “The craziest part is that the water loss of the iconic statue was only a fraction of all the water that was actually being spilled in all the city of Brussels.”

100 billion liters per year

In 2018, Shayp raised €450,000 during a first investment round and received the Belfius Smart Belgium Award for their innovative development. Besides contracts with individuals, large building owners and governmental organizations, Shayp also works with insurance companies. “In Europe alone, insurance companies pay €12 billion for water damage every year,” says Alexandre. “Our device can prevent the damage and costs by detecting and fixing leakages faster.” Shayp is looking forward to scaling and shifting part of their business from sales to delivery. The goal is to reduce water loss by 100 billion liters over the next 3 years by introducing and implementing the technology internationally.

This week, the company raised €1.9 million to scale their intelligent water monitoring system. Shayp completed their Seed Round with new Investors SIGNA Innovations and Amavi Capital onboard. Not only was Shayp able to bring new investors onboard, but all existing investors participated in the most recent financing round.

Looking for a team of experienced engineers and designers?

Sander Van Den Dries

Sander Van den dries, Director of Comate Engineering & Design

We help you build your product

High quality, smart engineering and attractive design combined. Contact us to discuss the possibilities for your project.