One startup wants to bring hot water to millions

Solar water heater Grynboiler is very easy to install by any plumberThis week the Mexican clean energy startup Energryn shipped its first commercial batch of solar water heaters called Grynboiler. This is a huge milestone for the young startup and represents the work of the last 5 years.

Energryn was founded by Andres Muñoz and Rassiel Lara in Cancun, Mexico in 2010. These entrepreneurs decided to leave their careers in the hotel industry with the goal of building a company to create and market clean energy products for the base of the pyramid – the population with lower income levels.

Being in Cancun, where sun is plentiful year long, they decided to start with a solar water heater. They developed an innovative concept, completely different from the traditional tube based systems. They created a first version, that they called Grynboiler, where an insulated water tank directly heats the water that it is storing. A big benefit is that the Grynboiler requires little additional space on the rooftop of the house compared to the traditional solar heater alternatives.

One of the initial versions of the solar water heater Grynboiler in a field test

One of the initial versions of the Grynboiler in a field test

It was a long and difficult process. The company bootstrapped for some years. Then took seed capital from some angel investors and Alta Ventures (disclaimer, we continue to be investors at the company) but money was never enough and the development process always took longer than expected. They were constantly iterating on the product, up to the current version 15 of the product (that means 150 material improvements to the initial product). The current version is sphere shaped, a global innovation. Of course, patent protected.

Solar water heater Grynboiler version 15

Current version of the Grynboiler

The current product is a all-in-one solution: a 80 liters tank with a backup electric heater (for very cold or rainy days), with a wireless temperature indicator and a water saving shower head. The system weighs only 11 kg which makes its installation very simple compared to other much heavier alternatives. Water is ready for a shower in an average of two hours. The cost of the system is $199 dollars. Installation is very simple.

Once a commercial product was achieved, the company has to build its own production facility to manufacture it. Initial volumes are not cost effective for outsourcing. The company started taking pre-orders some months ago and market interest has been very good. This first shipment was sent to some of those early customers this week.

Energryn is targeting end customers that do not have a water boiler (which normally are natural gas-based in Mexico) because they can not afford to purchase one and cover the recurring cost of the natural gas. The Grynboiler is priced at an affordable level compared to traditional water heaters (and well below current solar alternatives). But it’s key advantage is that it has practically no operating cost by using the energy from the sun.

Andres and Rassiel are confident they will be able to bring to millions of people in the base of the pyramid something that many of us give for granted – hot water. That is impact!

Anyone interested in the Grynboiler could contact me and I will make introductions to the company.

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