TOHL – Reinventing the Delivery of Water

Thol Ben

With a clean water source and the people who need it separated by one kilometer of mountainous terrain and 80 meters of elevation, is it feasible to affordably deliver clean flowing water in under just eight hours?

 

This is exactly what TOHL has proven possible with their first pilot project in the region of Cajón del Maipo, Chile.  TOHL has taken the complex task of fluid pipelines and transportation and simplified it in a way that is much more cost-effective, efficient, and scalable than current alternatives.

 

Founder and CEO, Benjamin Cohen, was inspired to start TOHL in 2010 after the devastation of the Haiti earthquake.  The disaster destroyed the already inadequate existing water well infrastructure leaving many without access to clean water.  Witnessing the devastation of lack of water access, and studying civil engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology at the time, Ben and his co-founder, Apoorv Sinha, were fueled to develop a new solution that could affordably and quickly deliver water to those in need.

 

TOHL’s primary product and service offering is a pipeline solution that can be installed cost-effectively, quickly and simply over the most unforgiving terrain by helicopter.  Of course, there are various Commercial and Industrial applications for TOHL’s solutions within industries like forest fire fighting, mining, and military logistics, among others.  More notably, the focus of TOHL’s business is for permanent humanitarian rural water access as well as disaster relief temporary applications.  TOHL is projected to be a game-changer in both of these sectors.  As an added bonus, during temporary applications of TOHL’s mobile infrastructure pipelines, the systems can be easily removed, re-used, and recycled if needed.

 

In order to prove their technology and concept, TOHL completed their pilot project in partnership with the Chilean Red Cross, the local Mayor, and the investment arm of the Chilean government, CORFO.  Having installed one kilometer of tubing in under 9 minutes, the completed pilot project proved the technology works.  With this milestone completed, TOHL is now working on their first full-scale commercial installation in collaboration with Avina Foundation, which will provide fresh potable water to 48 families, through a permanent installation in the same village as the original pilot.  TOHL designs and installs the complete system from piping to water purification. The project will be displayed on Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet.

 

TOHL has received global recognition in recent months, with Benjamin being awarded an Echoing Green fellowship and TOHL winning the Start Something that Matters contest, sponsored by TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie.  Under Ben’s leadership TOHL embodies a triple bottom line philosophy where economic, social and environmental responsibilities are all crucial in fulfilling the company’s mission and vision.

 

A strong foundation is now set for this economically sustainable business that will help serve the 894 million people worldwide who do not have access to clean water (WHO).  TOHL is well on its way to fulfill its vision of being the go-to company for water installations, serving governments, NGO’s, Foundations, utility companies, and private companies in their water access logistics needs.

 

Ben’s advice to others (especially entrepreneurs) is to “…passionately follow your dreams as you constantly envision what you desire to accomplish.  You have to literally see yourself achieving that which you desire until it becomes a reality.”

“It is also important to find a niche for your start-up, with which the company can begin to exploit and grow from.  This makes it easier to find your first customer and begin to build a recognized brand before running out of cash.  Some entrepreneurs are too worried about the service or product that they offer from becoming too specialized, but a start-up will most always satisfy a specific niche initially or else it will fail.  The niche becomes a tangible launching point for growth.”

“Lastly, it is important to work with team members who have the flexibility to cover various task areas within the company.  For example, in a start-up the entrepreneur often feels the need to hire specialists for all of the various detailed tasks that a business has to accomplish day-to-day: accounting, legal, marketing, design, engineering, project management, translation, sales, etc.  It is important to have a team of savvy people who can complete tasks in all of these areas by being willing to learn how to get the tasks done despite having zero experience in that specific area.  As a start-up, you don’t have the cash flow to hire someone in-house or out-of-house for everything or even most things.  Almost everything has to be figured out and completed by the founding team in order to save money.  Getting free help from experts who can point you in the right direction is usually the best option.  Get as much free help as you can in order to prudently save your cash, which is literally the single most important thing to monitor as a start-up who has virtually no cash-flows from operations.”

 

For a peek into the pilot project, see below.

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