Doll Avant is a proud Atlanta native and cum laude graduate of Harvard University. A data scientist by training, she spotted a problem that was being ignored and wanted to do something about it.
Following her motto “data-driven sustainability,” she launched Aquagenuity, which uses proprietary heat map technology to help users answer the question: “What’s in your water”. The mobile application uses a sophisticated blockchain database to allow companies and consumers easier access to information on their local water supply. In a nutshell, it provides real-time quality data for the neighborhood where you live or where you’re looking to move.
Doll’s system will not only allow users to know what’s in their drinking water but also the tools to fix the problem. She is encouraging companies to be more ethically and environmentally responsible and giving people the power of knowledge.
In fact, water is quickly becoming one of our largest limited natural resources, and off the heels of the Flint, Michigan contaminated water crisis it’s clear something urgently needs to be done. Learning what water can do to our bodies without proper filtering and sanitation can be daunting. However, Doll and her team are now giving people the chance to answer, “What’s in your water?”
Earlier this month we caught up with Doll to learn more about her process, inspiration, and what Aquagenuity can mean to consumers across the United States.
M: Please tell us the origin story of where your dedication to water conservation stems from.
Sure. For me and a lot of people, it was Flint, and those headlines about contaminated water really struck me because I couldn’t comprehend how that was happening to people here in the United States of America. Just all the back and forth and the lack of transparency of information with the government and the who/what/when it just really bothered me.
M: How do you think we got to this space of it being so bad?
A lot of that is due to infrastructure issues. The fact that the infrastructure of this country is over 100 years old. American Civil Society of Engineers gave it a D+ rating, and it would take about $4.59T to try to fix it over the next 15 years. Of course, we don’t have that in our local budgets so it’s basically a permanent issue but nobody’s really addressing it. And it’s also from certain practices from waste treatment plants; industrial pollution, pharmaceuticals, PFA’s, and all other kinds of things are being dumped into the water supply. Basically, we’re not keeping up (I learned) with the Safe Drinking Water Act since the 1970s. It hasn’t been able to keep up with all the new pollutants that have been introduced into the water supply. That’s including chromium 6, which is the carcinogen from the movie, Erin Brockovich and the California town, and they’re not required to even test for this stuff! They’re not breaking the law, so they’re saying, “hey we’re within legal limits” so there’s this gap between what’s legal and what we know to be safe or healthy. That’s the gap that Aquagenuity is trying to fill with data.
M: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment or the piece of Aquagenuity that you’re most proud of?
D: The database that’s fueling all of our innovations right now. It took almost two and a half years to aggregate all of that data to a proprietary database; it gives you a snapshot of water quality for the entire United States. [Consumers learn] what’s in the water, its contaminants, and how they impact your health. The database also pulls basic information like what filters are on the market that are specifically for those contaminants. We use data information to take personal responsibility and hopefully protect public health.
M: How has learning about water and the effects of it changed your personal life?
D: Well, it’s made me a lot more health conscious. My father passed away from kidney complications and I came across, in all my research, the fact that arsenic in the local water supply has been attributed to diabetes and so water was probably a factor in my father’s passing. So it made me ask the question, “How many people are being exposed to health risks?” So I’m hoping to be a resource for that type of information for other people who would love to make healthier choices.
M: For the consumer app, is there an estimated price of how much it will be?
D: To find out what’s in your water in the area you live, if you’re in a red zone, what filters are recommended for you, all the basic things you need to know, that’s all free! If you want personalized recommendations, a roadmap to detoxing, you want to track certain metrics over time; it’s between $3-5 a month.
M: How has the city of Atlanta helped since the development of the company?
D: The tech ecosystem is great! I’m in a unique space because most companies coming out of Atlanta are cybersecurity, fin-tech, things like that, so it’s good to kind of be an early leader in social impact and “clean-tech” and some of these other aspects coming out of Atlanta. It’s cool to be one of those leaders.
M: When it comes to young entrepreneurs and contractors, what would be your biggest advice to them?
D: Find a mentor. Find someone who’s been where you’re trying to go. That makes it easier just on the paperwork side, getting your certifications, whatever it is, but also knowing where the opportunities are because a lot of times people say, “I want to do this,” but if you’re not in the conversation [where] opportunities are being discussed then you missed the opportunity to grow your business or company, so definitely finding a mentor. Find a network, people who want to support what you do, is the most important thing; I’m trying to create that community of folks.
M: When it comes to water, what should people be looking for or looking out for?
D: We’re going to publish a list on our site of things you definitely want to avoid including waters that are going from municipal water supply (which is about 47% of bottled water). There’s actually a free report that will be available on our website this week and it will basically explain water’s role in terms of acidity and alkaline state of the body and why that’s important for diseases. Once you have those basic foundations and pieces of information then it’ll be easier to know what to look out for.
To learn more and stay updated on the Aquagenuity journey, be sure to visit here. The mobile app will be available this May.
Main Image: Doll Avant, founder & CEO Aquagenuity