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

Data, The Roadmap to Achieving Universal Access to Safe Water

Data, as the basis for evidence-based decision-making and accountability, are a crucial pillar of the post-2015 development agenda. UN Millennium Development Goals Report, 2015

This September the UN General Assembly adopted The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda. The 17 goals include providing universal access to safe water by 2030 (Goal #6). Like so many people, I want to realize universal access to safe water – but it is an immense challenge. How exactly are we going to achieve it?

With any sufficiently complex challenge there is no panacea—it will require a myriad of ideas and solutions, and the work of countless amazing people and institutions. However, at the heart of the solutions will be the use of accurate data.
UN General Assembly

Over the last 15 years, the number of people without access to safe water was halved during the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). From the successes and failures of programs during the MDGs the disaster relief and aid organizations learned many lessons. A principle lesson is the importance of collecting accurate data on what is, and what is not, working. Without it, you can’t identify solutions to promote.

The UN report from 2015, the final year to achieve the MDGs, is unequivocal that an essential lesson is the need to collect accurate data:

The MDG monitoring experience has clearly demonstrated that effective use of data can help to galvanize development efforts, implement successful targeted interventions, track performance and improve accountability. Thus sustainable development demands a data revolution to improve the availability, quality, timeliness and disaggregation of data to support the implementation of the new development agenda at all levels. 2015 MDG Report (p. 10)

Funders and thought leaders in global health agree. Bill Gates, a champion of global health, and especially access to safe water, stated in his blog that the MDGs “focused the world’s attention on disease and poverty, and by using data to measure progress, we could see which countries were succeeding and which were falling behind.”

At PotaVida, we make a strong assertion about data: we believe that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. We are fueled by our drive to collect accurate data, and believe accurate data are a fundamental component of achieving any large goal. Accurate data enables accurate analysis, and informs changes to optimize outcomes. Without accurate measures of success, aid interventions will replicate invisible failures.

On a more granular level, the data from our Smart Solar Purifiers allows us to see which communities, and even which households, are getting clean water and which aren’t – and provides an opportunity to address any gaps. We welcome the challenge of the SDGs, and the opportunity to contribute accurate, real-time data, to help achieve global health outcomes.






More blog posts here