If you have ever had the pleasure of drinking from a natural spring, you might sense the taste, or maybe you’ll call it a feeling. Some people hunt for the pleasure of drinking raw water at springs in nature –– known as “living water” in Hebrew –– and that’s the story of the two founders of MAYU, a new kind of water device company from Israel that makes economical and ecological sense.
They join a small group of entrepreneurs around the world that are looking to transform the capitalist machine with companies like Coca Cola and PepsiCo selling bottled tap water to American consumers. MAYU founders Shay Eden and Ze’ev Zohar were lovers of spring water who both came to the conclusion that water was broken. They needed to find a way to change it holistically for health reasons and for the planet.
None of the solutions they found locally in Israel such as the Strauss Tami4 machine or a Brita pitcher could come close to delivering water as nature makes it, the way they could find it at local springs in Jerusalem or near Michmoret where they both live today. Early tests on the best filters in the market showed them that devices consumers buy only remove about 5% of the problem. Reverse osmosis technologies can make water clean but without life. Even the springs and raw water they knew from their childhoods were starting to show signs of contamination from sewage, agricultural waste, microplastics.
After years of devotion, international quests to about 50 springs like Evian’s Cachat Spring, and more than a dash of mad science, MAYU was born. Their Swirl system is a machine that vortexes water, turning stagnant water into a living being, by aerating, restructuring and remineralizing it with mineral blends nature intended. A larger automated countertop dispenser, the MAYU II, is in the works.
Curating water with its own personality or nutrient blend
Are you an athlete who wants better performance for your work-out? A parent who wants the healthiest water for your kids? A hotelier that offers bespoke water with a flavor resembling the terroir of the place?
Currently MAYU offers the Swirl to US consumers. It sits on your kitchen table. Ideally you add water from a reverse osmosis machine to it, turn on the Swirl and then add drops of a formulated mineral mix you choose. Want to drink water that’s like springs in the French Alps, water that works well for pregnancy? Water that has the taste of your childhood? Choose your blend.
The minerals and physical process made by MAYU restores water as though it had passed through miles of natural stone, picking up minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, even trace amounts of platinum and gold, along the way. Water in nature is vortexed as it passes over rocks, and as it does it breathes in oxygen, evaporates out bad stuff such chlorine, CO2, unwanted odors, and other volatile organic compounds. Like in nature, the MAYU taste is better, and the pH is balanced.
Mother of Invention
Before Eden and Zohar had met around 2016, and started tinkering around in Hogla, Israel where they are today, both were attracted to water in different ways. In his 20s Zohar had started daily spring dips on his way to art and design college in Jerusalem, a ritual that continues to this day, but at the sea. Shay, a mother and a potter, was creating natural vessels out of clay in the way of the ancients, to help tap water breathe and decontaminate.
Israel, as a backstory, has a history of natural springs of biblical proportions. Religious people immerse in a mikveh–– in living water –– such as a spring, the sea, or water collected from rainfall. Bible legend has it that the first water created in Genesis originated from a spring in the Old City of Jerusalem. You can visit that spring today.
There are other legends: when the Jews were wandering in the desert for 40 years, a spring would follow them whenever Moses’ sister Miriam would play her drum. Some locals claim the spring is now appearing in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.
Water in Israel is spiritual and there is not only water, but fire in the eyes of Eden and Zohar, when they talk about MAYU, or the health of their kids. Zohar had first met Eden about healthy food options for his daughter, “she was known in the village as the wizard for health food,” he recalls. “I never thought about the water I am drinking –– until my daughter was born.”
“Yeah, I can make healthy food fun,” Eden, now a mother of 3, laughs. “But no matter how healthy your food is, it ends at water.”
And that’s when they started brainstorming.
They needed to solve the water problem that persists at the tap. Heavy metals and other contaminants such as pharmaceuticals stick around. “Even if the water is clean at the source where it’s processed, it won’t be by the time it reaches your tap,” Eden says holding chunks of brown bits they’d collected from the tap in their lab, a space that used to be her childhood kitchen: “Asbestos pipes, lead, agriculture runoff, industrial waste –– it all leaks into the old pipes that bring the water to your home.”
The moment of truth, that Eureka moment happened when they found the research of Viktor Schauberger “the Tesla of water,” says Zohar. “Nothing acts like water. It’s an anomaly. It behaves like an element. There is fire. Then there is water.”
“Through him we found the voice of truth about water,” Eden explained. “He talked about the movement of water. How water works.”
Schauberger who died in 1958 was an Austrian forest caretaker, scientist, inventor and biomimicry experimenter.
Ze’ev then suddenly announced to me, ‘‘we are going to create water” and I told him you are simply crazy –– only God can do that,” Eden recounts. But true to the mission, “The first years here were like a train station, with scientists and water lovers coming and going. All the water geeks of the world were here. We wanted to absorb, comprehend and mimic nature,” Eden tells Green Prophet.
Shaken or stirred?
MAYU solves two big problems. One is clean water, rich with essential minerals, but the second is a good alternative to our plastic bottle addiction driven by soda and food multinationals such as Nestle. We see the problem in the US, but if you go to a developing region like the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, every hut in the village will have cases of Dasani water bottles (made by Coke), which end up floating into the sea and coral reefs. There is no other option for clean water in these remote locations. China, Thailand, Brazil. The story is the same.
The MAYU device can put water bottlers out of business, and can replace 100 percent of all the plastics at home and the office. The question for investors is where is the business?
Water bottling is a big business around the world. Data Bridge Market Research says that the global bottled water market was valued at 283.6 billion USD in 2021 and is expected to reach the value of 476.45 billion USD by 2029, at a CAGR of 6.7% during the forecast period of 2022 to 2029. Last year the US alone consumed an estimated $40 billion worth of bottled water (Grand View Research), a majority which was still, not sparkling, water.
According to Seth Siegel, author of Let There Be Water, a NY Times bestseller, and an investor in MAYU, one in three American households have stopped drinking tap water. More than 74 billion water bottles are brought into American households and 67% of those are for bottled water. Greenpeace released a jaw-dropping expose in 2022 that only 5% of plastics can be recycled.
MAYU was founded in 2018 and employs 4 people in Hogla, Israel. Elad Erdan is the company’s CEO, who has a track record that suited the values of the two founders: he worked in business development for Colu, a community-building app for American local governments offices, and at Israel’s largest renewable energy company Energix.
To date, MAYU has sales and has raised $2.2 million USD of a $3 million seed round at a $7.5 million USD valuation. Seed funds will help MAYU launch the larger automated MAYU II unit, with a manufacturing partner in Korea.
The company’s assets include a patented process for liquifying minerals. The materials added are classified by the FDA with GRAS designation, which means safe. Consumable mineral packs is the bigger business model along with an appeal to offer custom recipes for water. If you are a chef who owns a Michelin star restaurant perhaps you’d like to develop your own water blend? Or what about pregnancy? Zohar experimented on his pregnant wife. He tinkered around and developed a water mineral mixture that stopped her leg spasms. The secret: micro dosing of magnesium and potassium throughout the day.
For those that want to buy today a Swirl tabletop version costs about $180 plus minerals, $14.95 for 60 liters of water. Competition in the space includes Aqua Tru Water (US) , Berkey Filters (US), and Mitte (Germany).
Erdan, the CEO, sees the business of water, like Apple’s app store: “We are a marketplace for water applications,” he says. “We will provide the capsules and other products like vitamins and premium products will be delivered through our standards and quality system.”
Larger industrial systems that work for hotels, restaurants and college dorm rooms are also being piloted along with the hopes of creating a more perfect world: while we can’t all start water witching for natural springs in our backyard, we can at least try to mimic natural springs at home.
New Age people and raw water lovers are excited about all of this: is MAYU looking beyond the chemical aspect of purification and looking holistically at the way the water flows, creating structured water, also known as hexagonal water, which is when the water molecules form a hexagonal cluster.
Structured water is said to have very close similarities to pure and uncontaminated water found in natural springs and glacier melts. If you were at an actual source spring you would just drink it out of your hands, but when drinking MAYU, glass only please: “Because water dissolves everything, even trace amounts of silica in glass, and it’s a more powerful solvent when it’s very pure,” Eden explains, raising a glass to toast and filling up my water bottle before I hit the road back to Tel Aviv.
Want to save $23 on your first Swirl? Add the coupon code: GREENPROPHET when you check out.