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The Public Launch of a Water Filter - And a Thank You The Public Launch of a Water Filter - And a Thank You

The Public Launch of a Water Filter - And a Thank You

by Michael Del Ponte
September 17, 2013

About nine months ago, I had an idea to design a beautiful and sustainable water filter called Soma. I shared the idea on good.is and the GOOD community quickly rallied behind Soma, to the point that we exceeded our $100,000 fundraising goal on Kickstarter in just nine days.

Our Kickstarter campaign got a lot of coverage from places like Forbes, Fast Company, and Mashable, but more Kickstarter backers came from GOOD than anywhere else, and by a hefty margin.

The support of the GOOD community made me think about the importance of relationship density. There are a lot of websites that get a ton of traffic, but they aren't truly communities, because the engagement between the individuals is very low. Our community is different. We share similar values, interact online and in person, and live lives of action. We don't just say we give a damn, we prove it by how we live—individually and collectively.

The investment we got from this community meant a lot, and I'm proud to share that I believe we've delivered against the potential you saw in us. Immediately after passing our Kickstarter goal, my team at Soma turned our attention to product development. With only a prototype at the time, we had to navigate our way to a product that we could scale production on, and build our business around.

Without much for r+d, we used appliance stores as laboratories. With foam product models in hand, we moved from fridge to fridge during quiet hours in the evening to arrive at dimensions that fit well across various models in market. It was a tight timeline to deliver on, and we were relieved to have finalized specifications for an on schedule production launch. And then misfortune struck. Our $30,000 mold that would allow us to produce 4 filters at a time broke right as we got started.

Our team was pretty demoralized. We had to reach out to a number of you, letting you know delivery times were shifting, and I'm grateful for the understanding people showed. Buoyed with that support, we hacked a solution that while not perfect, allowed us to move forward—taking components from the 3 broken mold cavities to make one mold that worked. Yes, this dropped our daily production by 75%, but we were live, and building from that momentum, we soon got full production back on line, and last week we shipped our final orders to our Kickstarter backers. I'm proud that we pulled it off, and I'm equally proud to announce that today we are officially launching Soma to the broad public and making it available for purchase at drinksoma.com

Since the GOOD community made Soma possible, we wanted to share this announcement here first and say thank you for giving us this opportunity. If you didn't see us the first time around and like the sound of our effort, come check it out.

The idea for Soma came from a dinner party I was hosting in San Francisco. One of my friends asked me for a glass of water, so I walked into my kitchen, opened my fridge, and grabbed my "leading brand" water filter pitcher. As I looked at the cheap plastic container, with black flakes floating in the water, I knew I couldn't place it on my nicely set dinner table.

So I decided to pour the filtered water into a glass wine decanter. Unfortunately (or fortunately), as I did the lid of the water pitcher fell off and water spilled all over my kitchen floor. Just then, my friend walked it to see what was going on, and I vented, "Why don't they just design something that looks nice, works well and is good for the environment?" His response: "Why don't you do it" And that night, the idea for Soma was born.

Shortly after that dinner party, we partnered with David Beeman, the leading water filtration expert. We challenged him to create a filter that was effective and sustainable. The result was a biodegradable filter made of coconut shell carbon, silk, and a plant-based casing. The filter is housed in an elegant glass carafe, worthy of any dinner party. Fresh filters are delivered to your door every other month, so you always change them on time. And every time you buy a U.S.-made, Soma water filter, you're supporting charity: water, a nonprofit organization run by fellow GOOD member Scott Harrison. They are on a mission to provide clean, safe drinking water to every person on the planet. Hopefully our effort can add to theirs while also responding to the need I experienced at that dinner party last year, and one that so many of you validated with your support since we started this discussion those months past.

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