Photo: rOcean.

Home soda and beverage devices are in the news again thanks to PepsiCo’s recent $3.2B acquisition of home carbonation purveyor SodaStream and German startup Mitte’s recent funding announcement. Some obvious advantages of systems like these is their ability to give you more control over what you’re drinking while reducing your overall costs and household plastic waste. And while SodaStream has been aggressively repositioning to benefit from recent healthier water trends, let’s face it: with mixes like “Fountain Mist” and “Dr. Pete,” it originally debuted as a consumable-sustained alternative to expensive, store-bought sodas.

A new startup called rOcean is taking a different approach. Launching its first product through IndieGoGo earlier this year, rOcean is focusing on the earth and health benefits of enhancing and drinking your own water.

You’ll first notice that rOcean’s decidedly contemporary countertop device, the rOcean One, is larger than a SodaStream carbonator. That’s because there’s a lot more going on inside of it. It will filter, carbonate, and flavor your own tap water—even plugging into the water line to make operation nearly as simple as pouring from a faucet. You can manage your preferred flavor intensity and degree of carbonation from their app or directly on an integrated touch-screen control panel, and their bottles will have RFID tags that can be assigned to your favorite beverage recipes.

The rOcean One is also more expensive than SodaStream’s carbonators. The $349 estimated retail price is about twice the price of SodaStream’s highest-price option, but the savings come in the long term. You use your own tap water, and you’re not dependent on rOcean for proprietary, disposable flavor pods. Instead the rOcean One features reusable cartridges you can fill with your own, natural flavoring or from larger rOcean flavor refill packs (think Method-brand soap refills). And the water filters? They’re designed to be cheaper and significantly more effective than standard pitcher filters.

The open model that rOcean has embraced is an interesting one. While companies like Keurig and SodaStream rely on recurring income from licensed or direct retail sales, rOcean’s only consumables are its CO2 cartridges and water filters. The primary consumable—flavoring—is optional since you can bring your own.

For households interested in a healthy, earth-conscious alternative to expensive flavored or carbonated water beverages, rOcean seems like a logical alternative. But it comes with risk. While the crowd-funding campaign was wildly successful, and they’re now accepting a second round of pre-orders, this is still a new company delivering a connected product dependent on some proprietary consumables. The good news is that rOcean’s offering checks the right boxes for a good many people, helping them drink more water while saving time, money, … and the oceans!

Sunjay Guleria, rOcean’s founder and CEO, is optimistic. Following SodaStream’s acquisition, Guleria told us, “Pepsi buying SodaStream is good for the market overall.” He continues, “it validates the growth opportunities and shows that the big players are paying attention to recent changes in consumer preferences, where more people are opting for healthier and sustainable alternatives to single-use bottled water and sugary-based beverages.”

Will rOcean deliver on this promise? We’ll know more when the company fulfills its first pre-orders, slated for December of this year.

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