On October 9, 2013, the two Evive Stations located on SRU’s campus were permanently removed. The Evive Stations are high tech water bottle filling and cleaning stations that are said to be ‘healthy, sustainable, and convenient’ to users. The Evive Company decided that, as a startup company that is just beginning to get a feel for its markets, the public university is not a suitable setting for their business and product.
According to an e-mail from the Evive Team, “Evive Station is a young business and we are still trying to discover what markets work the best for our product. The road to success is not a linear path, rather a bumpy road of trial and error. Unfortunately, we have learned the public university setting is not a sustainable juncture for our business at this time.”
But what made SRU unsuitable for the sustenance of their business? We think that falls back on two key factors: the location of the stations and the other available water filling stations on campus.
The Evive Stations made their debut on campus last spring, so they have been around for less than one year, and not even for a full semester.
The two stations that were on campus were located in the Aebersold Recreation Center (the ARC) and in the Robert M. Smith Student Center, on the second floor near the student development office suite. The ARC is a great location for such a water bottle cleaning/filling machine because gym-goers obviously drink water while they partake in physical activity. The second floor of the Student Center, however, was not an ideal location for students other than those involved or who frequently visit that office suite. When going through the path of a student on an average day, however, both locations aren’t very convenient. Most students go to various classroom buildings and go about their business, and would be unwilling to go out of their way just get water from a special machine, especially because there are water bottle filling units (or water fountains made specifically for filling bottles) located in most buildings.
The 22 other machines for filling water bottles are much more accessible to students and also feature clean, cooled, filtered water. While they don’t have a cleaning mechanism for water bottles or offer viewer-specific advertisements; they get the job done and count how many plastic water bottles the university saves each year by opting to use the refill station. According to a SRU September press release, “The reusable water bottle filling stations that started sprouting up around the Slippery Rock University campus in 2011 have already succeeded in avoiding the use of more than an estimated 250,000 disposable water bottles.” With the success of the existing machines on campus, there was never going to be room for such a business, no matter how novel an experience they created for the user.
The Evive Company did, however, provide all SRU students who paid for the subscription service with a full refund, as well as access to all the machines in the Evive network, in case students were to come across a machine in future job/internship experiences. While the company can be applauded for their excellent customer service, we believe that they were doomed to fail from the start.
In the future, SRU can continue to install the reusable water bottle filling stations and advance with the success of their sustainability efforts without the competition of outside companies.