Connor White, co-founder, left, and Mohamed Zerban, right, founder, of Tern, a company incubated in the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship.
When it comes to water conservation, the pair behind Tern have a simple idea: it starts at home.
“There is so much potential for sustainability within the household, but not many companies are making it easily accessible or ever desirable to the general public,” said Connor White. “We are aiming to alleviate the pains of those experiencing the ramifications of the global water crisis and create a platform from which people will want to live sustainable lifestyles.”
From that idea Tern was born, co-founded by White and Mohamed Zerban and incubated in the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship.
And now, the company has picked up steam as it was inducted to the Founder.org Class of 2016. Founder.org partners with universities across the world (of which Drexel is one) to “get more young people starting companies.”
Fifty such companies are accepted into their 8D program each year. With that distinction comes $10,000 in funding with up to $100,000 possible over the next year, according to White.
“Founder.org is allowing us to build our company alongside some of the brightest and most talented student entrepreneurs from around the world,” White said.
“Being part of the Founder.org class will help us further improve on our plans before going for our Series A investment,” said Zerban, a mechanical engineering student who is a part of the Close School’s entrepreneurship co-op.
Founder.org is the next step in Tern’s development. A key to the company’s initial development was the Close School and Baiada Institute.
After meeting White at a TEDx event last year, Zerban began coming up with the idea of a company based around helping provide clean water globally. Through the recommendation of Westphal College of Media Arts & Design faculty member Diana Nichols, Zerban brought White on as the chief creative designer and co-founder of Tern.
Tern's "Smart Faucet" purifies and conserves water.
“We developed our first product, the Smart Faucet, through my senior design project under the guidance of Mike Glaser, [program director of] Product Design in Westphal,” White said. “And, in a way, we have come full circle since that initial meeting because Mo and I are hosting the 2015 Drexel TEDx.”
Having the Baiada Institute available has been invaluable because of the connections it provides.
“Being incubated in the Baiada Institute allows us to get a lot more work done as it’s very close to everything and connecting with other entrepreneurs is always great,” Zerban said.
“Being in Baiada is great, but the best part of being there is the access to speak directly with the Close School staff,” White said. “Damian Salas, Chuck Sacco, Ian Sladen, just to name a few, have all been very accommodating and we are incredibly grateful.”
Although White graduated, the Close School and Westphal partnered to offer him a fellowship to allow him to continue to work with Zerban on Tern.
With the assistance of the Founder.org seed funding and the guidance of Glaser, the Baiada Institute and the Close School, they’ll continue to develop the Smart Faucet and chase their ambition of turning houses into producers of clean water rather than just consumers.
“It’s very exciting to finally start working on what we’ve been dreaming of for the past year,” Zerban said.