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Validating Business Models for Off-Grid Sanitation

Eram Scientific, a water and sanitation R&D company based in Kerala, India, is no stranger to innovation. Founded in 2008, the company developed a creative solution to the age-old challenge of the unclean, unhygienic public toilet: the e-toilet. Remote sensing and IoT technology enable this fully automated, self-cleaning public toilet. 

image of Eram off grid sanitation

While installing more than 2,500 e-toilets across India, Eram seized upon another critical innovation opportunity in the water and sanitation sector: how to manage the waste their e-toilets collected, especially in places not connected to sewerage networks. Eram began experimenting with emerging non-sewered sanitation treatment technologies.


Company leaders quickly realized that taking such unique sanitation products to market would require an entirely different business model. The novelty of the value proposition, the sophistication of the product offering, and the complexity of the sanitation market contributed to Eram’s sense that business model innovation was required. 

In partnership with Eram Scientific, we identified and tested potential business model hypotheses for a waste treatment system for off-grid sanitation. We engaged senior leaders in a dynamic business model ideation workshop to surface high-potential ideas and critical assumptions.

To validate and further refine these hypotheses, Eram leaders managed customer discovery while our group facilitated the work.  Our collaboration resulted in seven high-potential business model options, providing Eram Scientific and others a starting point for further ideation and planning.  

“We had a great and insightful experience with the RTI Innovation Advisors team. They have carried out the tasks by well managing the time and distance constraints. Together, we generated a good amount of thought process on our business plan.” Bincy Baby, Director & Chief General Manager, Eram Scientific
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