Zilper Trenchless — A solution to the U.S. Water Crisis

Stephen Braunewell
Published in
3 min readJun 20, 2019


Zilper Trenchless is a new technology that allows contractors to install pipes very affordably.

The Problem

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the U.S. wastes 18 percent of freshly-treated water due to old, leaky pipes. According to a study done by the American Water Works Association, it is estimated that the U.S. will have to spend $1 trillion over the next 25 years just to maintain its existing water service level. National incidents such as the crisis in Flint, Michigan and the more recent water main break in the Back Bay of Boston have made people aware of the dangerous state of the country’s water systems. However, the high cost of underground piping projects has left our water infrastructure chronically underfunded by city and state governments. The traditional “open cut” method of installing new pipes involves excavating the ground, burying the pipe and restoring the surface. While straightforward, this process can lead to high material, labor and environmental costs. The growth of “trenchless” technologies has offered new tools for contractors to significantly reduce project costs and surface disruption by eliminating the need to dig a trench before laying pipes underground. However, current technologies are expensive and highly specialized, creating significant barriers to adoption.

What The Company Does

Zilper co-founder and CEO, Daniel Zillante

Zilper Trenchless has developed a revolutionary trenchless technology that allows contractors to install pipes at a fraction of the cost. Joost Bonsen of MIT MediaLab described the process as “minimal invasive surgery for streets and cities.” Zilper’s product can install or replace up to 500 feet of pipeline under most ground conditions, eliminating the need for contractors to buy multiple machines. Zilper harnesses the versatility and power of Assisted Dynamic Boring technology, which combines a constant hydraulic force, pneumatic percussion impacts and a continuous soil clearing process inside the pipe. As a result, penetration force and productivity is maximized by a factor of 13x. Reducing the number of technologies used by contractors also reduces the amount of training needed, project completion time, and per-project cost by up to 40 percent. This opens doors for city and state governments to execute more water infrastructure projects within the same budget, saving direct costs due to water wastage and minimizing environmental impact.


Zilper Trenchless’ impact has been felt throughout the tech world, culminating in an extensive list of honors and awards. In 2018, Zilper was named a finalist and the Audience Choice Award winner at the MIT 100K “Launch” competition, a member of the MIT Sandbox program and the MIT DesignX program. In 2019, they were admitted into Imagine H2O, the world’s most prestigious water startup accelerator and won at its Demo Day. In April, the team won 5 awards at the Rice Business Plan Competition, taking home over $425,000 in prizes. The most recent award came in May when Zilper blew away judges with its potential impact and won first prize at the DesignX demo day competition.

Founding Team Background

Zilper was founded by brothers Roberto and Daniel Zillante in 2018 while at Christmas dinner with their family. Roberto is a mechanical engineer with 7 years of experience in trenchless technologies and has lead the trenchless division of the biggest water infrastructure contractor in Colombia. Daniel is also an engineer and holds an MBA from MIT Sloan with a focus on Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Previously, he co-founded a startup and has 5 years of experience in marketing, sales, and strategy.

What They Need Help With

Zilper is looking to kick off a fundraising round in August 2019. Email info@zilpertrenchless.com or contact us at The Buzz to put you in touch.



Stephen Braunewell
Editor for

Life Science professional that is passionate about healthcare, biotech, and New England startup ecosystem.