I had just left my last company after growing the business for 10 years from 3 kids in a garage to a business that had millions of customers around the globe, over 100 team members, and doing over $50 million in annual revenue. It was a bittersweet moment as I had created a successful business that was had just raised an additional $50 million in capital & was set up for success yet I felt there was still so much more opportunity & I loved the consumer hardware business.
Like many people after a life change, our family got out of the country to figure out what we were going to do next. We went to stay with my wife’s family in Japan for a few months and while there I got to meet with some of my former colleagues over drinks. The discussion of what next came up and I discussed my interest in the bathroom. I noticed that the bathroom in the West hasn’t experienced any of the automation upgrades and technology upgrades that have happened in the east. We joked about the idea but they didn’t know that I was being quite serious.
I began researching different opportunities. The surfing market (fun to do but a horrible business to be in). The toy market (again, very fun but a very tough business). Alexa software applications (a very good business). However, the opportunity in the bathroom really caught my eye. I noticed several things:
1 – The bathroom hasn’t changed significantly in 100 years. While there has been lots of iteration on design and plumbing improvements, the core feature set has remained the same
2 – The distribution system is outdated. People often experience 5-6 layers of mark up and middlemen when purchasing bathroom fixtures for a renovation or new construction.
3 – Lack of software. No company is doing significant improvements that rely heavily on software. While there are some innovations that are getting PR, nothing is being released to market due to the permanence of a fixture & the distribution system is mismatched for technology products
I then began to survey consumers. Interview consumers. Interview plumbers. Chat with industry members. And the opportunity became more and more interesting.
In April of 2018, I knew I had to do this or I would regret it. I saw a vision of the future bathroom where it’s not a place to end the day but where every great day begins. I saw the potential to use software to create an experience that anticipates your needs, conforms to your wants, and delivers the care we deserve. I saw what a connected bathroom could deliver and realized we needed to start small to achieve the potential.
In August 2018, we incorporated and began working out of the Mosher Alumni House to kick off product development for what would become the Bathroom Assistant.