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Brondell's Swash Can Turn Almost Any Toilet Into a Bidet.

But will Americans leave toilet paper behind?
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The Pitch: "You wouldn't use dry paper to wash your dishes. You wouldn't use dry paper to wash your face. So why are you still using it to clean your most sensitive body parts? We make the Swash, a bidet that can be installed easily on almost any toilet seat. It provides a more hygienic and eco-friendly way to take care of 'business.' Depending on the model, it retails for $450 to $800. We also sell a deodorizing line of toilet seats, and later this year we'll launch products that decrease your existing toilet's water consumption. We sell to luxury hotels, and our products are available online and in 400 locations, including the Home Depot's EXPO. We're also reaching out to doctors for endorsement in the medical community."

COMPANY: Brondel

OWNERS: Scott Pinizzotto and David Samuel

LOCATION: San Francisco

EMPLOYEES: 8

FOUNDED: October 2003

2007 REVENUE: $2.28 million

2008 PROJECTED REVENUE: $6.15 million

RAISED SO FAR: $1.8 million from angels, including investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban

NEEDED NOW: $5 million for marketing, distribution, and product development

CLIENTS: Households earning $75,000 or more; luxury hotels

RECENT BUZZ: 2007 American Building Product award; mentions in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Wired called it a "supercool gadget."

The Experts Weigh In

Focus on hotels

I actually had an informational meeting with these guys about six months ago, and I ended up buying the Swash at a friends-and-family rate. The product works well. I'd recommend it to friends, but I'm skeptical about whether many Americans will buy it. The problem is that everyone uses the bathroom, but we don't talk about it. And changing something as personal as cleanliness is going to be difficult. But bidets are all over Asia, so there's probably some market demand from people who are familiar with it. If they want to sell it in the U.S., I think their best bet is to focus on luxury hotels.

Brian Dunn
Founding partner
Aquillian
San Francisco

Seek angels instead

If you're a small guy, just getting into a distributor like the Home Depot doesn't necessarily help you -- what's important is what the distributor can do for you. Since they're already in 400 locations and yet they're doing only $2 million, I wonder how big the market is for this enhanced toilet. As far as endorsements from doctors, it's an interesting idea, but it's hard to create significant traction doing that unless your product makes a huge health difference. Because I'm unsure about the national market potential, I think Brondell should stick with angel funding.

Tom Stemberg
Founder and former CEO, Staples
Managing partner Highland Consumer Fund
Highland Capital
Boston

Partner up

How do you differentiate the product from the competition? In the end, the people who are putting in a new bathroom -- are they really going to go with your branded product, or are they going to go with the market leaders, like Kohler? My suggestion is to get some prepaid distribution deals. For example, let's imagine that a big company like Kohler is interested in this kind of product but doesn't have it yet. That company acts as a distribution channel -- it sells your product using its own branding, and in exchange it prepays you a significant amount of money. Brondell can then use that money for working capital instead of getting venture funding.

Axel Bichara
Managing partner
Atlas Venture
Boston

Last updated: Apr 1, 2008




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