Siblings Zahin Razeen and Rizvana Hredita were named in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list recently, under the category of Social Impact, for cofounding Hydroquo+, a Dhaka-based startup that uses AI to improve water management. Last September, Razeen, CEO of Hydroquo+, was selected as one of the United Nations' 17 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals, for leading efforts to combat the world's most pressing issues. Star Youth, The Daily Star, caught up with the duo to learn about their work, and more.
How did Hydroquo+ start out?
Zahin: I was one of the fellows in One Young World in Hague, back in 2018. I pitched the concept of Hydroquo+ and got funding opportunities. We started out with a government contract. We monitor the health of water in real-time. By using mathematics and real-time existing sensors, spectrophotometers, we measure the wavelength of water, ensuring its safety. Hydroquo+ delivers autonomous water testing and monitoring, real-time data stream monitoring, analytics and alerts. We have significantly reduced cost in labour and equipment, providing accurate lab test results. We are collaborating with different national and international organisations to expand our model. Our goal is to reach 164 million people of Bangladesh in the next four years.
Rizvana: Our implementation project was divided into two phases, for getting the machine and deploying it. Combatting several obstacles in our way, we implemented our machine under Dhaka WASA supplying potable water across Zone 3 Dhanmondi to more than 200,000 people so far.
Tell us about your education and childhood.
Rizvana: Initially, I wanted to study law but later, I realised that I wanted to pursue finance. I went to York University in Canada to study finance and then, I worked at the Royal Bank of Canada for two and a half years. Zahin was always a curious and mischievous kid, he always tried to find out how things work from an early age. When I was beginning to lose sight of my goals, I came back to help Zahin with Hydroquo+, leaving my life in Canada behind. We always have each other's backs, no matter what.
Zahin: I went to six different schools growing up. I studied mechatronics engineering in my first year as an undergraduate student at the University of Glasgow, and later, shifted to mathematics. My elder sister left Canada to come and help me pursue my dreams. She took a huge risk, which worked out in the end. She is someone that I can always rely on.
How would you define the vision of Lingwing, another venture of yours?
Zahin: it is an AI-personalised language learning application. Users can learn specific languages like Bangla, and it is appropriate for anyone who doesn't understand a word of English or other languages. We have beginners and elementary stages for English, Georgian, Italian, Spanish, French and Russian. As I am partially dyslexic, I designed it for dyslexic people to make it an inclusive learning platform.
Rizvana: Usually, people spend a lot for language courses. Lingwing provides a more affordable way for them. We have a freemium mode, where people can learn languages for free.
With an emerging social business scene in Bangladesh, what do you think we should focus on?
Zahin: We need effective thought leaders, who will equip people to leverage soft skills and match them to socioeconomic opportunities. We must focus more on practicality and unlearn every cognitive bias embedded in our system.
Rizvana: Young people in Bangladesh are now more driven towards purposeful work rather than going for safe job options. They are thriving to break through conventional norms and to find innovative solutions to the problems around us. We must make way for them to win, and work on their methods.
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