This Hollywood-Backed Company Is One of the Most Exciting Wastewater Solutions On the Market
Producing a 250-ml glass of beer can require 74 litres of water. Producing a litre of pop can require twice as much water — or more.
That water can’t just be pumped back into the system to be used again. It’s wastewater. When you start to consider just how much wastewater is produced by various industries, the impact becomes dizzying.
Enter Baswood. Founded by Paul Baskis, the company’s BioViper system is a ground-breaking wastewater treatment that helps customers reduce BOD — biological oxygen demand. It cleans the water before it’s either sent back to the municipality or reused at the customer’s plant.
Using little to no chemicals, 60% less energy than other wastewater treatment systems and a 75% smaller physical footprint than competitors, the BioViper removes 90% or more BOD. It also has a remarkably small physical footprint.
As the need for sustainable solutions for cleaner air, land and water grows dire, the potential for systems like BioViper is huge. Here, Jaimi Klein, Baswood’s director of marketing, offers a look at the idea behind the tech, the company’s ties to Hollywood, and the corporate accelerator experience that could help see BioViper used widely.
Finding solutions in nature
When Paul was studying the cultures of bacteria that grow on river rocks and how rivers naturally digest carbon waste streams, he started to wonder whether the natural process could be replicated in a concentrated form that could be used to treat industrial wastewater.
“The technology and the science behind it came from Paul’s studies of riverbeds and the naturally occurring algae blooms and how they move according to where the food sources are,” Jaimi explains. “That led him to the concept and the design of the BioViper, which is an all-organic biological treatment of the wastewater.”
Paul is one of two co-founders behind Baswood. The other founder: actor Woody Harrelson. The two men became aware of one another through a mutual friend.
“We actually have a lot of Hollywood investors. They were brought in by Woody Harrelson and then Ed Norton, who at one point was the chairman of the board for Baswood,” Jaimi says. “Both of them do a lot with environmental investing and they choose environmental initiatives when they go to invest in startups.”
The soda pop factory
In 2013, Baswood established its first full-scale facility at the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group beverage plant in Houston, Texas. The project just passed the five-year mark.
“We’re helping them reach their sustainability goals in cleaning water and community impact. In one of our installations with them, in Ottumwa, Iowa, we were actually able to clean their water so it reduced the impact at the local municipality, which freed up the municipality to treat an additional 7,000 residential homes,” Jaimi says.
“In an industry like wastewater, change is not fast. Acceptance of new technologies like the BioViper is very slow. This five-year mark is a milestone of becoming synonymous with wastewater and treatment.”
Hitting the target
In the fall of 2018, Baswood was selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of 100+, a sustainability accelerator by multinational drink company Anheuser-Busch InBev.
The accelerator is helping selected companies — all of which have a technology-based solution that addresses a pressing global problem — accelerate a path to a commercial deal with the multinational beverage company, while helping AB InBev meet its 2025 sustainability goals.
“AB InBev had been one of our target prospects that we wanted to get in with. We see a lot of similarities between what we were able to accomplish with Dr. Pepper and what we believed we could do with Anheuser-Busch,” Jaimi says. “We thought this was another avenue for us to get access to the people that make capital decisions.”
A unique customer relationship
Baswood currently has a pilot in place with AB InBev at one of its craft breweries in Houston that seeks to achieve similar results as the Dr. Pepper project. “That will be a good launching point for other projects in the future,” Jaimi says.
The accelerator has been rewarding in other ways, too. “We’ve been really impressed by all the AB InBev people. They’re really invested in seeing us succeed,” Jaimi says. “It’s different from a typical customer relationship where they’re questioning a lot of things. But in this case, the customer is invested in our success and getting us implemented with them. That’s been really positive for us to see.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.