Brita Smart Water Bottle Startup, Lark | Tech Crunch

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Smart water bottle maker Lark announced this week that it has been acquired by filtration giant Brita. More specifically, Brita GmbH, a German company founded in 1966, sold its North/South American division to Clorox in 1988.

Brita GmbH operates the brand in other parts of the world, but it is currently prohibited from selling products under its own brand name in America. Among other things, the acquisition provides the corporation with a clear reentry point into the previous market under an existing — if not widely known — brand.

Bay Area-based Lark, founded in late 2017, is best known for its line of smart water bottles that use a UV light built into the cap to reduce bacteria that accumulate inside the dark, damp object. The company has since expanded into the Water Pitcher, which combines a UV light with a standard water filter to match what we've come to expect from Brita.

“They wanted to turn to their B2C side and expand into North America,” says Lark, founder and CEO Justin Wong tells TechCrunch. “Lark has given it a natural extension geographically. But, from a premiumisation and digital transformation point of view, that business has traditionally been 70-80% offline. They are in the process of making a big digital transformation and we are the exact opposite. Seventy to 80% is online for us.

Lark's retail footprint is modest, with its product available in ~1,000 brick-and-mortar stores. Although it currently has no footprint in the US, Brita GmbH has a huge presence in the international market and has retail expertise. Lark, meanwhile, spearheads online sales efforts.

Brita US (Clorox) will be the elephant in this particular room for the foreseeable future, but the company's one-time parent is gearing up for an interesting battle — one that won't use its own name.

Wang Both Lark and its new parent believe they have the upper hand in terms of innovation.

“I think Clorox basically runs that business as a cash cow,” he says. “That's what they do. Clorox buys businesses, expands their footprint on store shelves, and squeezes every dollar they can out of it. Germany is heavily dependent on innovating filters and their business models.

Lark will maintain its current product portfolio while looking to expand its offerings in ways that marry its technology with Brita. It has a constant focus on things like app connectivity and hydration tracking.

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