Safe water with certainty.

PotaVida is lowering the cost of providing safe water in disaster relief and development contexts, while automating recording of usage behavior to enable effective monitoring and evaluation.


Point-of-use water treatment is too expensive and aid agencies can't easily tell what's working in the field.

Providing Safe Water: There are 700 million people without access to safe water, resulting in preventable disease and death. In Haiti, for example, $9B has been spent on disaster relief, yet over 700,000 people have been infected with Cholera, a waterborne disease, and over 9,000 people have died as a result. Aid agencies and governments need a lower cost method of disinfecting water reliably that does not depend on consistent supply chains.

Efficient Use of Resources: Aid agencies conduct in-person surveys to collect usage data on water purification systems. Surveying a household takes 20 to 30 minutes, and the resulting self-reported data is biased. More reliable and detailed usage data is needed to effectively monitor, evaluate, and improve aid programs in the field.

The Smart Solar Purifier

Simple to Use, Easy to Monitor

PotaVida's Smart Solar Purifier consists of a 10 liter hydration bag with an electronic dosage indicator that shows when the water is safe to drink and records usage data. Our technology uses the process of solar disinfection (SODIS) to reduce the cost of water treatment and eliminate the need for replacing filters and chemicals. Each batch of water is ready in as little as 2 hours in sunny conditions, or up to 2 days during the rainy season. Our product has a shelf life of 5 years and design lifetime of 1 year, making it an ideal disaster relief supply. To use, simply fill the bag with water, place it in the sun, push a button, and wait for the indicator's green LED to show that the water is safe.
For ordering information and sales inquiries, please email sales@potavida.com.

The disinfection monitor electronically records its own usage, including attempted/incorrect usage as well as completed cycles, thus capturing the total water disinfected by each unit. This data can be wirelessly downloaded to a smartphone with a simple attachment, and tagged with GPS information before being sent to a centralized database. Aid agencies can see usage in real-time down to the level of individual users and their locations.

Meet the Team

PotaVida brings together experts with a passion for sustainable and scalable global health solutions.


Charlie Matlack, CEO

Charlie is the technical architect of PotaVida’s Smart Solar Purifier. He led the effort that garnered a $40,000 prize in a design competition for our original concept and conducted our recent field trial in Uganda. He has a BS in engineering from Harvey Mudd College and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Washington. His dissertation work was on novel interfaces for enabling individuals to control prosthetics and computers using individual neurons in the brain. He is an entrepreneur who understands how to leverage for-profit business and technology development models to provide market-based solutions to the developing world.


Tyler Davis, CFO

Tyler has a background in public policy and economics, and 3 years of field work experience in developing countries. Tyler was the PI for Technology and Social Change at the University of Washington for a 6-country study of benefits and costs of access to information and communication technology. Tyler builds the business models and leads PotaVida’s grant writing efforts. A Ph.D. candidate at the Evans School of Public Policy, Tyler's dissertation work is third party certification of environmental goods. His research experience also includes economic modeling of subsistence economies in Indonesia and development of principles and standards for benefit cost analysis for social programs.


Jackie Linnes, VP

Jackie oversees biological compliance and has conducted field trials in Nicaragua and Zambia. She is an expert in evaluating and implementing health solutions in low-resource settings. She is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue University, and holds a PhD in bioengineering and a certificate in Global Health from the University of Washington. She is an expert in pathogen detection disinfection and engineering solutions that improve global health. Jackie has extensive global health implementation experience, including leading an assessment of user response and usage of improved cooking stoves for Engineers Without Borders in rural Bolivia. Jackie has taught at MIT, Harvard, and Boston University.


Randy Strash, VP of Sales

Randy Strash is a 34-year veteran of World Vision, credited with launching a number of programs and campaigns that yielded over $1B cash and $10B in-kind donations during his tenure. He has extensive field experience in several countries in Africa, including opening World Vision's office in Rwanda, and is well connected in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector domestically and internationally.


Ron Paulsen, Adviser

As a veteran of small start-up ventures and large multinational companies, Ron brings a diverse set of business experiences and technical knowledge. His specialties include product development planning, ramping products to volume production, and engineering management of hardware and software development. Previously the VP of engineering at Impinj and Snupi, Ron now operates a consulting firm. He has been advising PotaVida since 2013, helping us select contractors for engineering design, rapid prototyping, and user interface design.


Sarah Daniels, Adviser

Sarah helped lead five venture-backed companies through rapid growth periods, changes of strategies, fundraising, and acquisitions. Sarah has been a CMO at a publically traded company, Market Leader, acquired by Trulia in 2013. She is a passionate leader with a deep commitment to marketing and sales strategies. Sarah advises PotaVida on marketing and sales strategy.


Bill Hughlett, Adviser

Bill Hughlett is the CFO of Voyager Capital. He brings over 30 years of industry and public accounting experience to the team, most of which has been focused on the technology sector. Prior to joining Voyager in 2000, Bill was a Senior Manager in Arthur Andersen’s High Technology practice, serving companies such as aQuantive, Blue Nile, BSQUARE Corporation, and Loudeye Technologies. At Arthur Andersen, Bill specialized in planning and execution of corporate transactions and equity compensation strategies. Prior to rejoining Arthur Andersen in 1998, Bill had responsibility for strategic planning, corporate development, and the worldwide tax function of Spacelabs Medical, a public medical device company.

How it Works

Solar disinfection is a proven process, recommended by the WHO

The Smart Solar Purifier treats drinking water using solar disinfection, often abbreviated SODIS. SODIS is a process that uses the UV in sunlight to inactivate pathogens in water, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. The process takes a few hours, depending on weather, water clarity, and the UV transparency of the container. In addition, temperatures above 45°C increase the speed at which pathogens are inactivated. SODIS is a highly effective process that is recommended by the World Health Organization. Until now, it has been challenging in practice because of the impossibility for the user to know how much sun the water has received, just like it's impossible to tell whether or not you'll get sunburned on a cloudy day. PotaVida's Smart Solar Purifier takes out the guesswork, and even the need to be trained on SODIS; just wait for the green light and drink with confidence, as we've taken care of the details!

The table (source: EAWAG) provides a list of pathogens that SODIS has been verified to inactivate. It is true that cryptosporidium requires more exposure than other pathogens, and that amoebas require heat for inactivation. However, the vast majority of common pathogens, usually caused by fecal contamination of drinking water sources, are readily dealt with.

Contact Information

Purchase Inquiries

Please email sales@potavida.com to learn more about ordering Smart Solar Purifiers.

Latest Blog Post

Answering Gates Foundation and USAID calls for quantitative evaluation

Uganda-map-sampleThe future of global health doesn’t just rely on groundbreaking scientific discoveries; it relies upon solid, measurable data. What works? What doesn’t work? How well does it work? And what can we do to make it work better? These are today’s key questions, and it’s harder and harder to get funded without data to answer them.

Funders realize we can’t improve what we can’t measure. From USAID to the Gates Foundation, the focus is on data. In defining statements USAID asserts that they have a “relentless focus on measuring and delivering results” and the Gates foundation states their goal is to “continually improve how we carry out our work.” Stating how many products we put in the field is not enough; funders want to know the outcomes, not just the outputs.

PotaVida has received the message. We are working to meet the need for affordable household water treatment and detailed, accurate data on usage. Our Smart Solar Purifier collects its own data, which can be easily downloaded to a smartphone, and then sent to a cloud based database where it can be analyzed. That means more accurate, more complete data to enable better decision making with less time and money.

But we aren’t just collecting data—we are using it too. With partner organizations we have field tested Smart Solar Purifiers in Nepal, Chad, Niger, Uganda, and South Sudan. Our data have already saved our own field deployment from disaster, by leading to an early discovery that the instructions led users to erroneously turn off their purifiers at night. Accurate usage data, available on demand, enabled us to update the directions on the fly, and then confirm successful water disinfection. Our own experience shows why accurate usage is so important to improve outcomes, and why donor organizations are right to demand it from us.

More blog posts here