Reefill wants you to drink more tap water

Reefill is a New York-based company that wants you to stop buying bottled water. Their system, which will be installed in delis and fast food restaurants, lets you refill your water bottle for free with filtered tap water that should, in theory, be better than the swill you currently get from water fountains.

The founders, Jason Pessel, Andrew Betlyon, and Patrick Connorton, first worked on the idea during the 2015 Think Beyond Plastic accelerator but they’ve been lifelong friends. They bootstrapped the first few stations and won grants from NYU and the 2016 New York StartUp! Business Plan Competition. They are raising $500,000 to create a pilot network of 100 locations in New York and have started and Indiegogo campaign to raise more funds.

“Reefill has advantages over both in that it provides the consumer with a product of equal quality and convenience to bottled water, only without the waste and high cost, and is far more convenient than water brought from home,school, or work since the consumer on-the-go need not worry about running low; our dense network allows for frequent refilling and lets members carry smaller, collapsible water bottles,” said Pessel.

The system works via RFID and an app. When you approach the station you unlock it with your bottle and grab sweet, sweet filtered water. The app shows where Reefill stations are hidden and you pay $1.99 a month for access.

The system also maintains user data and can tell merchants and potential advertisers about popular places in the city. Finally, it keeps you from having to ask the folks behind the counter for free water. Pessel came up with the idea when he was walking through New York and couldn’t find a single place to refill his reusable bottle. Out of this frustration a product was born.

While it doesn’t seem like much – a water fountain connected to an app, basically – Pessel notes that 50% of all bottled water comes from the tap anyway so this just cuts out the plastic-producing and, at $2 a bottle in New York, expensive middlemen.