Toilet Seat and Shark Tank; Clean Freak with Washie Founder Rob Poleki

 

Mm, yeah. all right. welcome to clean freak, everybody. it's Adon Rig here with another episode of clean freaking today.

Got great special guest, Mr rob. how do I pronounce your last name? Pawlicki. lucky you got it. there you go.

Ceo and founder. so we're gonna get into it a little bit. you're on a shark tank. I can't wait to hear a little bit about that. um, but for those that don't know, um, I imagine you growing up. you weren't envisioning one day you would get involved in the cleaning industry and create a toilet seat.

Uh, product. so what led to, uh, what led to that? oh, my gosh. and I come from politics. I come from government, a career in government and in as a social worker, as an elected official.

And, you know, I'm a guy that has tons of ideas and has lots of ideas. and, um, one day, my son was four. he's four years old at the time, um, and he needs his restroom at an airport. I'm not going to say what airport, because they're going to be one of our customers one day, but we're waiting in line.

And you know he's doing the party dancing. um, you know, stall finally opens up and we encounter a dirty toilet seat, right? some guy had just peed all over the toilet seat, so, you know, I wipe it down and I put a paper toilet seat cover on the seat.

And, you know, my four-year-old son is like, I'm not sitting on that. he's like kicking. he's great. he's not. he's not sitting on it, but he has to go use the restroom.

So I go and grab some soap, uh, some paper towels and I clean off the toilet seat for him. he sits down, he's comfortable, he takes care of business.

And that's where the light bulb idea comes from. so, yeah, I had never had any idea that I would be in toilets in sales from politics to the cleaning industry as the restroom industry.

Same crappy business, my friend. well, you know, it's funny you say that because, uh, I'm from i'm from Canada.

And the first time I ever saw a toilet seat cover was I was real. young was in the Chicago airport. so in America, maybe 80% of facilities seem to have toilet seat covers in Canada. I'm gonna say it's probably less than 10. like, very few and far between.

You never see toilets coverage. they do exist. but maybe really nice hotels. that's about it. most shopping malls don't have it. what have you and so me being in the cleaning business and it resonates with me is, uh is I continually?

Hopefully if i'm walking to a washington see the maid cart, I steal the disinfectant on the made car. like, don't do that.

People are looking at me. i'm always getting a piece of paper towel. i'm getting. i'm wedding it. i'm putting on the hand soap, and i'm doing exactly what this does.

And and your idea is a great idea. uh, really resonate. when I saw, it was showing people what it is in a moment. but so especially nowadays, right, uh, with a covid and all that, people got to be more conscious of what they're using and just give you a little thing. so, uh, my, uh, ex wife and daughter, you know, when we go out and stuff like that, uh, they were famous for using a lot of toilet paper lining the toilet.

The toilet seat right? because there's no paper. there's no toilet seat covers in canada. no. so just the over consumption of using paper and all that stuff. so it's like a great idea.

I love how you came upon it. well, we we must share some things in common because i'm originally from new zealand, right, and in new zealand, new zealand, there's no paper toilet seat coverage.

It's just in america. americans have, um, some weird issues about toilets, even by today's men have issues about the days they don't want them.

Um, so america. and he's kind of, um, upgrade on their restaurant facilities. so, you know, when I when I first came out with the idea, I didn't think too many people did the same thing that I did.

And so I put it out there and, you know, tons of great responses, and that's why I kind of move forward with it. yeah, I know. it's it's funny.

Talk about today's my first time experiencing of the day. um, I was at a girlfriend's in my house. I was in grade five and walked into the bathroom. she had two toilets, and I said, what's that? and then that pushed the button, you know, because yeah, we're not used to come over here.

Um, yeah, that's cool. so how long is this? how long was this like you thought up? the idea your son was for how long ago was that?

My son was four at the time. he's nine right now. okay, so it's been five years since I came up with the idea. it's been five years.

You know, since I had a full time job, I had to do this, you know, on the side.

This was always like the home depot project, you know, me going out and buying all these toilet seats, getting a drill in my garage and, you know, drilling holes and toilet seats.

So it's always like the part time thing, right? until, you know, until I quit my job and I went full time two years ago.

Well, let's get inside. but before we do, i'm just gonna show the little video. so if people know what the heck we're talking about, uh, do you want to line up a little bit? video? what's the name of the product.

And, uh, yeah, washi the cleaner toilet seat. um, so we are actually the first smart toilet seat for public restrooms as well, but r r c will eliminate paper toilet seat covers forever. just you just got to watch the video.

I love it. I love the smart. uh, what do you say they're smart toilet seat. we're also smart, so let's see public.

Yeah, I love it. all right, let's let's see the video here and everyone get it, and yeah, okay. okay.

Okay. yeah. okay. uh, I don't know why we have a little bit of a little bit of the technical difficulty, but I think everyone got the gist of it. yeah, the internet is really, really slow. I got high speed, so I know what the issue is that it might be on youtube side, but I don't know why, but it's funny you about that video, because what you're doing there is you're saving me.

Uh, sometimes people looking at me and not sometimes a lot of going public. washington looking. i'm going bumble on the paper towel. if there is no people telling me have hands and there's and there's just hand dryers.

I go into a store, I get the toilet paper, I get the toilet paper, I go to the sink. you know, it's not. it's only deal, so I mean, this is a great idea. and i, uh there's got to be a huge percentage of people that think and do exactly what I do. I know the females in my life do it all the time. so, um, so those that don't know you thought up the idea, and then how the heck did you get on the shark tank and tell us about that journey? yeah.

Yeah. so just to give you some info, we did a survey. I mean, we we surveyed 1000 people, put it out our product out there, and we had a 93% um, rating on.

Yes. you know, they would use washi. they love washi. so 93% came back as positive feedback. so everyone does their thing when they get in the restroom. right? and you just can't see it because it's behind closed doors. they're putting toilet paper down on the seat.

They're doing all kinds of things. i've heard it all. um, so you know, it's it's good to hear that other people, you know, share the same, uh, experiences that I do, but yeah, so so what happened was, um i'm an elected.

I was an elected official in the state of idaho. uh, I mean, you guys in canada probably know what that is, right? I was voted into office, and, um, I was an elected official, and at the same time, I had this idea and I was trying to, um, bring the idea to to life and and I filed for a patent. and in 2000 and 18, um, I was issued a passing by the united states patent and trademark office.

So I decided to try out for shark team. I went down to the venetian hotel in las vegas and stood in line with about 5000 other entrepreneurs and I the funny thing is, is I drove about seven hours from from where I live to las vegas with a toilet bowl and the toilet seat in my car. and it's the first version of it.

This is huge toilet seat that looks like one of your handicap toilets. it's like it's like three inches thick it just does not look right. and, you know, I jimmy rigged this thing and make it, you know, get it working.

And it looks okay, right? so I get out of my car and I put this toilet bowl in the toilet seat on a push cart, and this thing is in the middle of c. e s, the biggest tech electronic show in the world.

It's in las vegas, and here I am, pushing a toilet bowl and a toilet seat in the middle of the casino pack thousands and thousands of people. and I was so embarrassed, you know, and and I was I was really hesitant on taking it out in the first place of my car. I didn't want to take it out. was getting the embarrassment like I drove all that way.

I might as well just go stand in line. so pushing out the toilet seat and I got a different reaction. instead of people laughing, I got people say, what is that? like the crowd?

Oh my gosh, I sit in line for like, five hours nonstop, talking to people who wanted to see what it was. so so I get onto the you know, I i pitched the producers, and they love me.

And out of 42,000, um, contestants. I made it down to, like, 90. and at that point, I was running for office, and they said they called me up and said, rob, if you want to come on the show, you signed this document saying that you weren't running for, uh, for office at the same time.

Coming on short tank. you can't be on a network well, running for office. so they asked me. you get if you want to come on the show, you got to quit your job.

So you know what I thought to myself? i'm going to be a multimillionaire once. I sharpton, you know, thinking like every entrepreneur, which is probably not the case.

But I was like, i'm going to be a millionaire. i'm going to quit my job. so I quit my government job with the best retirement with best benefits to take on this toilet seat.

Um, idea. and so I made it down to 90 and we were getting ready. I was getting my pitch ready with producers buying, um, stuff for my set, and they called me up one day and they said, rob, we really apologize. but we found a better company and we're gonna have to tell you, so I didn't even make it on the show.

I went through the whole process and I was like, I was two weeks away from going down there and filming and they cut me. and the biggest blow that was the first punch in the gut I got from this toilet seat. didn't mention.

So you quit your job, you went all in and he never got even better on the show. I never even got on the show. and, you know, and I think, you know, all things happen for a reason.

If I would have gone on that show how early I was it was the it was an ugly looking prototype. I probably would have took any deal, you know, they would have said I need 70% of the company. I probably would have said yes.

Yeah, i'll take it right. but, you know, these things happen for a reason, and and they're still keeping, you know, in touch with me.

Every year they call me rob. how you know how things going, um, and I think 11 year, I will be on the show, but I didn't make it in 2000 and 18 year. I didn't make it.

Well, I i think I think, uh, I would be grateful for you to be on there, but it's it's a great idea. I don't think you need them.

Um, which is which is great. it's a great idea. so explain the, uh you know, I always look at the way. what's the objection? right. if i'm a customer, what's the objection?

Uh, so if i'm the customer, i'm looking. i'm going. okay. what is it? what does it entail to install it? is it? what's that look like?

Yeah. yeah. so, customers, you know, we're b two b, right? we sell to businesses, and customers are looking to provide there.

Their customers were the better restroom experience. right? so there's tons of studies that say, you know, if you are if you if you're restrooms in your restaurant or your mall or your airport a dirty most likely people won't eat. their most likely people won't return or spend money.

There are studies that say, if you provide them with better restroom facilities there. more like you just spend up to 15 more percent. then they you know when they would in your facility.

So, you know, it's just unconscious thing about restrooms that people are finding out. if you provide customers with clean the restrooms, your revenue can go up.

But, you know, that's one thing. but I think the most important thing is that, um, you know, we're eliminating this psychological thing called the paper toilet seat cover, which is absorbent.

It doesn't work. it's just psychological. you put a ounce a drip of water on there and it breaks so so anything can seep through, right? so it really does nothing.

And, um, the reason I i'm a you know, I invented this thing was because my son, my son didn't want to sit on it, and I wanted to let him sit on a clean seat, and, you know, I didn't want to let him sit on somebody else's mess.

So, um, that's the same approach that my customers are going to get when they buy. this thing is that we're going to provide our, um, you know, employees or whoever is using our facilities cleaner restrooms.

And in return we will get something that we will get. you know, positive feedback for cleaning restrooms, uh, increased revenue. they will return to our restaurants, return to our facilities.

So that's on the b two b aspect of it. that's that's the approach. and what goes? what goes into the canadian when they're putting their hands in the sense of what's coming out?

So we have a formulation. it's our own formulation. um, and it's a cleaner, right? and we do not have in in, um, in the u. s. we have e p a.

And we do not have any kill claims. um, we will one day, you know, when we register our product. but as of right now, we are the cleaner toilet seat.

But you know, it's it's a it's a it's a it's a type of soap that we'll clean the seat off. yeah, well, cleaning is much more important than disinfecting, right. I mean, clean, clean. let me phrase that you clean first before you disinfect. so, you know, um, makes sense. I can't go through, can't go through a puddle of urine and stuff like that, right? so good for you.

Um so how do you go to market you b two b? but do you have just distributors? how do people how do you how does that work? yeah, so you know, our problem, especially with covid hitting, is that we have had tons of delays. we have no inventory.

And we finally just received inventory, like, two weeks ago and because of covid and because of, uh, you know, the amount of marketing that I put out there. we have a ton of customers, right? people knocking on the door from everywhere from nation, like in the us and, you know, internationally.

Um, but the problem is trying to get it here because man manufacturers slow down two engineers that we're working on the project had left. so, you know, i've been running into, um, manufacturing problems, but we finally fixed everything, solved everything.

So we have decided to launch in airports. um, airports are our target because, uh, tons of people going to be back into airport. tons of people are flying, and it's the only place they can use the restroom. once you past security, you are stuck.

You can't go home to use the restroom. you have to use the restroom facility there before you get off the plane. after you get off the plane, women have to sit 100% of the time. so we are going after airports, and a lot of business professionals are in airports, so they'll see our product and want to take it back to their facilities. so airports is key for us, but, um, stadiums, hospitals, gas stations will be next.

But our initial launch will be with airports. um, as far as you know, as far as distributors, the biggest distributors, that alright, I as I say, I have contacted us. they're in touch.

Uh, some are waiting for us to launch, and some are waiting for us to get inventory in. um, I want to control everything the first year. make sure that, you know, I have a good working product.

Make sure I know how everything works. i'm from government. I i do not know, you know, a ton of our distribution, but i'm learning along the way. and, um, you know, we have problems. good problems, but it's no problem.

Yeah, well, yeah, it's been a very, very interesting time and, uh, getting things across the border and and and stuff like that.

Big challenges, big challenges. so good for you. so, you to mention, I have to say, are you going to plan to be? and I have to say this year I will be I am going to, uh, submit.

Submit the washing toilet seat for the, uh what is the the award for innovation of the year, my friend. so, uh, i'm gonna submit that this year, and hopefully that brings a lot of, uh, to our product.

Good for you. uh, you should find out where it is, where you know what convention center is and domestic. yeah, but where it is and then go into the convention center and give them all free and put them all on the toilet seats in the convention. so people go in and they're using it.

Guess where I was last week. I was doing that biggest week in vegas. good for you. yeah. um so we so we are talking with them and we're trying.

We haven't we haven't locked anything down, but we're trying to get in there. yeah. good for you. good for you. so what's your plans for 2021.

Move for like you, obviously. you got you got you inventory. now you're gonna focus on airports. um, are you doing you, like, what's your plans for the rest of the year?

You're gonna go through distribution, and you're doing that on your own? yeah. so right now the company is a three man team. just me, um, my partner, dane simmons. and we have, uh, my assistant that we finally promoted to director of operations. so we do everything like, you should see our warehouse.

We are testing right now. we're testing. we're testing tons and tons of toilet seats to make sure when they we install them. um, you know, they have no issues from the marketing side to the operation side. I mean, we have been doing everything, so hopefully, uh, here in the next two or three months, we begin to expand and grow a little.

Um, we are focused on the west coast of the u. s. and launching on the west coast just because we we we live on the west coast and will be easier for us to visit these facilities and make sure that the seeds are in good condition, um, and then eventually will branch out. so we along the way, we've met with some big hitters. you know, we've met with huge gas station chains, even some that are in Canada.

Um, when we were in, um, I used to say Canada last year, we were able to install some at a hotel and two airports, um, wanted to, you know, purchase washing. but because of canada's epa laws that we didn't know about.

It's gonna be tough for us to come over there. so maybe we'll discuss that. um, but, uh, we've been talking to so many big hitters and so many airports, you know, uh, ceatec dallas fort. were salt lake city, uh, boise airport. you know, we've had these huge discussions at. the biggest problem is just getting the inventory, which now we're now we've solved, and we're we'll probably have 30 to 50,000 seats this year.

And, um and we're long. we're going, we're going big. we're launching the airports and then getting some marketing out, and then we're going globally.

I love it. I think it's a great idea. um, I really do. um it's one of those conversations people don't normally talk about, but, um, yeah. I mean, every single time I go, I use the washroom.

Even in my office here, you know, I'm grabbing something. I'm grabbing something. uh, and I eventually think most people like that.

Definitely a lot of women. if there are no toys, he covers, they're putting toilet paper down. all that stuff you're gonna save on toilet paper if your facility and yeah, I think she makes a great idea.

So if someone's interested, wants to learn more. um, how do they find out about you? and, uh, yeah, so let me add a comment about women.

Um, since women sit 100% of the time, I swear, like, 2 to 3 times a week on our Facebook and Instagram pages, there is some new female thanking us for making this product because, you know, it's just unfair that they have to sit 100% of the time.

Uh, and facilities aren't the cleanest. so we have females thanking us all the time on our social media pages, and so it's kind of make us feel a little good, but if you want to find me washing toilet seat dot com.

You can find out more about our smart tosi. oh, I didn't go over the smart piece, but and then also on linkedin if you're a business professional and want to connect just with my story, most people connect with me because i've been punched in the stomach so many times on this entrepreneur journey, and I just I just want to stop until i'm gonna win.

So i'm i'm a former athlete, so I just want to win, and i'm gonna win. so one day, you know, while she's, um, well, one of the big things about winning is, have is having a good product, and you've got that. so that's that's the good part you got. you got the product you got, you got a good product.

You got the inventory and you just came out of covid. so, uh, you know, people are a lot more aware of sanitizing and all that stuff, and, you know, I don't know if the study would be, but the amount of toilet paper facilities are gonna save using this and just, you know, the time of one clogged toilet, because there's a lot of toilet paper goes down, especially, people are using it to sit down and that, um, toilet seat covers get clogged.

Toilets got clogged quite a bit, and that's a huge cost and potential, uh, water damage and all kinds of things. so you've got a winner there. so it's a washy toilet seat. cover w a s h I e. toilet seat cover washing, toilet seat dot com.

Sorry, Washington, etc dot com. and this has been this is great. it's, uh, you're a breath of fresh air. you can see the passion that you got a great product and let's get the name out there. let's let people know about it because, uh, you gotta winter there, at least in my eyes.

Well, I definitely appreciate you having me on the show and all the support of my friends. all right, so hang tight there and everybody you've been watching clean freak. we come to you every Tuesday, 12 pm, pacific, and you have been, uh, watching us with the washing toilet seat dot com.

Check it out. it's the smart toilet seat of the future. and you've been watching clean freak. we'll see you next week. okay?

 

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