A hundred years from now our great grandchildren will hear stories about how we used toilet paper after taking care of our business in the bathroom and they’ll laugh at this neanderthal notion. Toilet paper is dry, inefficient, and is catastrophic to the environmental considering that the production of toilet paper kills 15M trees annually. So what is the future of wiping? TUSHY. TUSHY is a bidet that attaches to any existing toilet seat to keep you fresh and safe from conditions such as hemorrhoids, UTIs, yeast infections and IBS-related symptoms. The bidets are affordable starting at $69, comfortable, and customizable. Bidets are no longer a luxury for the affluent as founder Miki Agrawal (she is also founder of THINX, the period underwear) has brought them to the masses with her latest venture.
AlleyWatch spoke with CEO Monica Pereira and Miki about the product, the plans for the future, company, and its first round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We’re announcing a $500K Seed round led by Propulsion Capital with participation from angels including Luke Sherwin and Neil Parikh of Casper and Joseph Okleberry of Naspers.
Tell us about your product or service.
Monica: TUSHY is a sleek bidet that attaches to any standard toilet and sprays your nether regions super clean. Our butts are the only body part we clean with dry paper, and this practice leaves us sitting in our own fecal matter all day. Washing with a spray of water feels better and cleans better, effectively removing that residue left behind. On top of that, properly cleaning with a TUSHY can prevent and alleviate hemorrhoids, UTIs and yeast infections (26 million combined cases per year!) and save the killing of 15 million trees per year. You can easily install a TUSHY onto your toilet in 15 minutes, and each package comes with all the parts needed for an easy install.
What inspired you to start the company?
Miki: I first set out to challenge social taboos with periods (THINX: shethinx.com)… then pee… and now, with TUSHY, we’re changing the way we all talk about poop. I grew up with Indian and Japanese parents who thought Americans were strange for sitting in their own fecal matter all day without properly rinsing! We want to educate everyone on the health benefits of a bidet and how to properly clean ourselves.
How is it different?
Miki: We’re challenging a social taboo and bringing attention to something Americans are ashamed of talking about – pooping.
We also care about the global sanitation crisis, and we’re committed to making clean water and toilets attainable to all through our partnership with Samagra. For every TUSHY sold, one family in a developing country gains access to clean community latrines built by Samagra.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Monica: TUSHY speaks directly to the 80M US millennials who are open to breaking taboos and trying new practices that break the status quo. Millennials care about making mindful purchases from mission-driven brands and want to lead widespread change in culture and habit.
What’s your business model?
Monica: TUSHY is a direct-to-consumer, e-commerce social enterprise.
Miki, how are you able to manage this business and THINX simultaneously?
Miki: None of this would be possible without my amazing team of A-players who hustle day in and day out to help bring each brand’s vision to life.
What was the funding process like?
Monica: It’s never easy to raise capital when you’re the first mover in a category, especially in a taboo space. We sought out investors who understand the massive opportunity for a purpose-driven brand to change America’s perception of bidets. Fortunately, we found several great partners who totally get our mission and greater purpose.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Monica: We faced the same challenge we face every day, promoting the life-changing benefits of our product. We met many individuals who were so quick to question our product, yet almost no one took a moment to question the status quo. It’s 100% common sense that water cleans better than paper, but we actually had to demonstrate that to break through the mindset created by our lifelong habit of wiping.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Monica: Miki’s track record breaking taboos through innovation and mission-driven branding, most notably with her company, THINX was really important. We’ve proven that with the right approach and the right team, it is possible to create mass awareness and demand in a taboo space.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Monica: TUSHY will rebrand the bidet category, which has never been culturally relevant nor friendly to design-appreciating millennials in America. Our first step will be to completely change the conversation around bidets.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Miki: The work you do before raising capital sets the tone for letting your passion and sweat show in everything you do. If you do that and do it consistently, you will attract investors who value how hard you’re working and how passionately you believe in your business. Don’t stop. Ever. If you believe so deeply in what you are creating, someone will eventually too. It does have to be a viable business though
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Monica: We plan to change Americans’ views on bidets and own the cultural bidet conversation.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Monica: Frank, a cozy restaurant in the East Village serving the most delicious Italian food. My husband and I always snag the two seats at the end of the bar.
Miki: I have to go with WILD, a farm-to-table, gluten free pizza restaurant that also happens to be my first business. I saw an opportunity to take this beloved food staple and make it healthier. With no experience in the restaurant business, I poured everything I had into this dream, and it will always be my first baby.