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University Incubator Helps Turn the Tides of Water Consumption

Learn how Tern is using the university incubator space to make a product that improves the quality of our world.


November 17, 2015

At age 15, Mohamed "Mo" Zerban returned to Egypt and what he saw in his home country changed his life. The H1N1 virus was rapidly spreading, and the devastating effects appeared everywhere. As he spent more time in Egypt, he realized how the poor handling of waste exacerbated the virus’ spread. He considered how waste and biofuels affected the community at large, conceiving a future where waste disposal did not hurt, but could help instead. His curiosity brought him to the Library of Alexandria where he researched biofuels and renewable waste, learning the process and history of turning consumption into production. Now in the Baiada Institute, he proposes a change to the future of our everyday home water consumption - using the university incubator space to make a product that improves the quality of our world.

After the Library of Alexandria, Mo's studies, work, and research led him to the Drexel Smart House, the Philadelphia Water Department, and finally, Exelon Utilities. Though each of these experiences brought individual, unique perspectives to different problems, as a whole they shared similar themes. These themes of renewable energy, waste recycling, and researching concepts and bringing them to market, all served as individual pieces of what eventually became Tern.

In the Spring of 2014, Mo paired up with Connor White, co-founder and lead designer at Tern, and created Tern Water, an innovative solution to waste and consumption problems. Tern's flagship product, the smart faucet, purifies your water and measures consumption, deciphering and delivering the data to the user. This allows for a more sustainable and cost-effective household system. Ultimately, turning water consumers into water producers.

Along with technical functionality, Tern prides its products on being completely customizable to the user. The smart faucet serves to make your life easier and simpler, saving energy and money in the process. The smart hub contains the control boards and sends the data to your phone or device, supplying real time data of personal water consumption and filter effectiveness. The filter is housed in the shell of the smart faucet and is the only part that needs to be replaced. This combination of superior functionality, user-friendly data, and aesthetic design make the smart faucet a staple in any sustainable home.

The Tern team's success comes from their passion and expertise. They also understand the important role their work environment plays. That is why they call the Baiada Institute home. A university incubator provides unique advantages for a business in its early stages. The academic atmosphere cultivates innovation and breeds critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Along with the business perspective, Tern receives an academic view. Mo and Connor compile these unique outlooks into a holistic oversight of their business model and future. The academic setting offers an opportunity for students as well. Drexel University students complete research and work for Tern, building a mutually beneficial relationship that allows them to see first hand the creativity, innovation and business acumen necessary to turn an idea into a business.

The Baiada Institute has also helped Tern outside of their day-to-day business functions as well. Through Drexel University, Tern had the opportunity to qualify for, an organization that works with top universities around the world and invests in innovative, problem-solving companies. Tern receives guidance and help in all facets of their business. From consulting to legal help, and everything in between, their presence in the class of 2016 proves invaluable to their continued success.

Tern revolutionizes the way household water works. At the same time, they stand to change the way we as a society view water consumption. Water remains one of the most important resources in the entire world, and the management of it proves crucial to the universal quality of life. The United States sees first-hand some of the effects of drought and water waste. Mo, Connor, their team, and the unmatched atmosphere of the university incubator have the tools to fix these problems. Now, it is their turn to deliver the solutions.

Stay tuned with all of the latest news and updates regarding Tern Water through their website or through the Charles D. Close School's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles.