A special bottle (Photo: ImpacX)
Hila, Kobi Bentovsky's middle daughter, was seven years old when she suffered from urinary tract infections. "It means doctors, hotline, antibiotics, I also remember one ER, urine and blood tests for the girl, and it didn't stop, went on and off for almost two years," he says. "At one of our appointments with doctors, one of them advised my wife to go to a pediatric kidney specialist, a nephrologist. My wife searched for and found the specialist in the central area, and made an appointment for him in advance.
We waited two months to see him. On the appointed day, we stood at the door of the doctor's room, my wife, Hila and I, and before we entered, the doctor looked at us and asked, 'Why did you come?' We answered as we stood at the door that the girl was suffering from infections. He looked at her and said, 'The girl doesn't drink.'
I asked how do you know? He replied, 'Every day children come to me and I recognize that. They're just too busy and forget to drink.' He must have been very adept at recognizing the facial skin, the dryness of the lips."
The family sat down in the doctor's room, who explained what had happened, but Bentovsky does not remember the appointment. All he thought to himself was: How can this be?
"I'm a technological person and today, thanks to technology, we know everything. We know where our friends go, where they ate, where they spent, but we don't know about our bodies, about our children, about ourselves, the most basic thing: whether we and our children drink."
Is this how the smart bottle was born?
"The smart bottle was born when the doctor suggested adding probiotics to Hila's morning drink, thinking it would strengthen the entire immune system. I wondered if he had ever seen three girls getting ready in the morning, with one getting dressed, another yelling, a third not finding the pencil case, so at that point it seemed irrational to add probiotics to Halo's breakfast."
Kobi Bentovsky (Photo: ImpacX)
Israel is drying up
The family returned home and Bentovski did not fall asleep. "I spent that night searching the internet about the whole issue of dehydration and discovered that sixty percent of the population is dehydrated to one degree or another. Some are more dehydrated and some are less dehydrated. Men are also more dehydrated due to drinking more coffee than women, especially black coffee which is very diuretic. In our daily activities, we remember how much coffee we drank but we don't remember how much water we drank, and we usually remember the water either when the head hurts or at the end of the day."
The first phone call the next morning was to his neighbor, Nimrod Kaplan, the one whose girls were going to the same class together.
"Nimrod is one of the authoritarians I knew in Israel regarding applications and big data. I told him we had to meet. We always met at various events and said we would do something together at some point in life. I told him the story and we drew things on a napkin. Nimrod asked me to let him think. The next day he called and said it was a big and interesting problem and suggested we do something."
The next phone call was toYoav Hoshen, whom Benkovsky met during their joint service in the army, in Unit 8200. "Yoav is among the largest experts in Israel who know how to take startup technologies and sell them to the largest companies in the world."
After the three met several times, they decided to set out together and start a company. This happened a few months after that visit to the nephrologist, and then Impax was born.
Impax, a technology company specializing in digital health, currently has 150 different patents, developments and a growing user community as part of the drinking trend that conquers the Israeli market, especially towards summer, where new heat records are broken every year. Their strongest brand and product is WATER. IO and Bentovski explains that IO marks the field of technology.
"The idea is to take the water and turn it into something technological. One of the first things we did was to take the field of drinking water and make it measurable and one that allows people to improve their health immediately and personally. We make it possible to tailor a personal drinking profile to each person according to his needs."
The company's first customer a few months after its establishment was Mei Eden, which launched a campaign with the product "Mei Eden's Smart Cork".
"That was four years ago and our first generation product, which came out on the market in hundreds of thousands of units in sixes of Eden water and reminded people to drink. We, as a company, began to run into the international market, signed deals with Danon International, Danon Water, the world's number two manufacturer of bottled mineral water, of French brands such as Evian, with whom we made the second generation that includes an app and personalization of drinking, customization for everyone, and opened up to additional products such as vitamins. Here, too, we reminded people to use and consume according to their parameters."
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The big breakthrough came immediately after COVID-19, a period of time during which the world realized that the whole issue of health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and our wellness, does not allow for a one-size-fits-all product. A bit like the pervasive understanding of gender medicine in Western society.
In September 2021, Impax became a large Israeli company traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Less than a year and a half ago, Impax signed a $2.7 million commercial agreement with PepsiCo, under which it supplies hundreds of thousands of electronic units of smart beverage bottles and a software development kit to the global beverage corporation. Impax makes smart water bottles for Gatorade, PepsiCo's isotonic drink sold worldwide.
"The products we sell are consumerism that we all use and buy, and we wanted to make it accessible to customers who use the product to invest in its shares on the stock exchange. Later we launched our own brand. Until then, we had sold the exhibits to customers and brands, but in Israel we launched the smart water bottle for the first time under the branding of the company WATER. IO for the domestic market. We brought to the Israeli market all the technologies that until now have been sold to international companies as a product adapted to the daily needs of the Israeli market."
The company produces tens of thousands of bottles for personal use annually. The cost of the bottle was initially NIS 299, and today a bottle costs NIS 269. "The price of the product at launch at the beginning of commercial sales was more expensive and we adjusted it to the price level appropriate for the Israeli market."
Technology assembles two basic elements. One is the app that allows you to enter all the user's personal and physical details, including height, age, weight, gender, and she knows how to connect to smart watches, knows if we did sports today, how many steps we took and if she is allowed, the app also knows based on our location, to update the drink according to the weather forecast. The app builds us a personal drink profile according to all our personal parameters and updates the bottle.
The bottle itself is made of stainless steel with a ceramic inner coating that allows both ease of cleaning and preventing the metallic taste that metallic bottles usually have (clean it manually with soap and water without using a dishwasher). Inside the cap of the product is concentrated the patented technology, which allows transferring the personal drinking profile from the app and during the day accompanies the user.
Every time you drink from the bottle or fill it, the cap with the brain inside it keeps track of the amount of drinking and filling of the bottle. The cork has the ability to remind us to drink by using lights at the top of it and through vibration. Every move or take of the bottle shows us how we are drinking. If it flashes orange, we are not meeting the target, and if it flashes green, we are within the target.
Most of us have a drinking problem. Not exactly what you think (Photo: ShutterStock)
Bentovsky has experience in invention-based business entrepreneurship. In 2005 he founded MTEYE, which dealt with smart home and security and invented the field of home cameras that can be monitored via cellphone. The company was sold in 2012 to the largest alarm company in Israel, PIMA, which integrated it into the wireless division. Bentovsky moved to PIMA and managed the division for four years until he founded Imperex
", "The effect of the product in the market was far beyond our expectations," admits Bentovsky. "The expectations were for a low sales rate, for dozens. We thought he had released a product in unconventional standard marketing for start-ups. This is considered challenging. To say that the product has succeeded, one of the most significant metrics is to bring the B to C product business unit to the break-even point. The second significant measure is how much customers like the product and we do surveys to know it. We ask a simple question: would you recommend someone close to you to purchase the product? We feel like we've almost cracked that."
"Because the pace of our customers' recommendations is growing day by day and we see our inquiries, our referrals, and customers say I bought for my wife, for a friend, for a relative."
Your daughter had urinary tract infections, but there is no bottle for the children.
"The product is a digital health product that integrates a lot of technology into it and we combine the peak of technology both in terms of batteries, communications, measurement capability, and this causes us to reach a certain price tag that does not yet meet the criteria for products for children. But we'll get there."
Around the product, Bentovsky says, a community was formed. "There are people who drink 200% of the recommended amount, and we saw that they passed the target in large quantities, so we are perfecting and adding a personal consultant, who as soon as you drink water in very large quantities, will accompany, warn, and ask why this is so."
Among the communities that have developed around the bottle are people who want to lose weight. Drinking water at least at your daily goal helps you feel less hungry and gives you a feeling of fullness, leading to weight loss after a while. "There are groups of pregnant women, groups of breastfeeding women for whom the issue of drinking is important, people who received an unequivocal order from the doctor to start drinking water. At the company level, we develop the communities for meetings.
We have beta groups that volunteered to get the first updates, and we have a group of Super Newsers, which regularly reaches the daily goal in successions of weeks and months. They come to meetings with us, receive updates about the product, what things need to change, as well as innovations, and receive lectures on health issues. Last time we did it in our offices in the Rehovot Science Park and we reached peak occupancy, 50 people, but the next meetings will be open to the general public in larger places because the communities are growing."
What is your goal?
"Our goal is to become the world's largest digital health company. Today, our competitors include water bottles that measure water temperature or weight. We're focused on users' personal health. We are not the only ones in the world who have a drinking app, but we are the only ones who take very specific parameters such as pregnancy, update profiles according to weight loss, medical conditions, and build an environment of very significant health reinforcement."
What are the expected innovations?
"The innovation is in the development of water products when we add content to them and the ability to make each of us reach our destination. The magic happens when you start reaching your destination. You feel sharper, people lose weight, people report that their diabetes levels have decreased, people are less tired."
Halo already drinking?
"Drinking, drinking, too."