The Business of Toilets: Laughable or Innovative?
No matter your level of maturity, you might not be able to resist giggling at the word "toilet"; a residual effect of childhood. But to many companies, toilets aren't funny; they're serious business that determines their future revenue and growth success. These businesses prove that it's possible to stifle the giggles, and make toilets into innovative organizations and products.
I recently wrote about the UK's Community Toilet Scheme, which gives the public access to washrooms otherwise out of bounds to anyone other than paying customers. MizPee takes this concept to the next level, and with a name like that, I think it's clear that this is a business that still manages to find some entertainment value in the toilet. This is a modern service that allows the desperate to use their mobile phones to locate the closest and cleanest toilets, so when they've gotta go, they can.
The service is available through WAP and SMS via mobile and online, and is offered by San Francisco, California's Yojo Mobile Inc which specializes in mobile-centric, location-based services. All users need to do is enter the state, city, and even the address of where they are to learn where there are toilets in the area. The listings are primarily added by other users, and include details such as the distance from their location, whether or not a purchase is required, a cleanliness rating, a map to the loo, and the option to provide their own feedback.
As I said, MizPee clearly doesn't take their service too seriously, since it makes sure to offer some entertainment value to its users as well. Also available is different reading material and online, toilet-related quizzes and surveys; they feel that since they are connecting people with appealing bathroom environments, they might feel at home and need some entertainment while they get on with their business. The website also features "Pee Points" which are coming soon, who knows what that will be about, but it's sure to be worth a laugh.
Toletta takes a more serious stance towards the business of toilets, by offering personal, disposable seat covers to help those germophobes or overtly cleanly get through their public bathroom experiences, while making a contribution to breast cancer or child poverty charities. The toilet seat covers are available both in larger and travel size packages which contain five covers for those "just in case" situations, and come in blue or pink designs. Toletta's products are said to be softer, 20% larger and 40% thicker than typical seat covers, making them more comfortable and providing less chance of skin touching those scary public toilet seats.
They aren't shy about outing their target audience, referring to them as divas who want only the best when it comes to their personal, toilet hygiene. The blog available on their website is open to public post to allow these divas to blog about their public washroom experiences, which is an entertaining twist to a company which focuses upon providing top-quality products. This Canadian company proves that their can be an element of seriousness in even the most obscure industries.
Igloos' business concept isn't so dissimilar to that of Toletta; it also brings a higher level of toilet services to those who frown upon typical public toilets, or the dreaded porta-potties. While this company does offer classic bathroom restoration and design services, their unique contribution to the world of washrooms comes in the form of their luxury loos which can be brought to any location or event within the UK. While porta-potties and other substandard forms of toilets may be suitable for the "regular person" attending music festivals or other outdoor events, it just doesn't seem right to offer the rich and famous entertainment the same relief accommodations.
Igloos' portable toilets model those found in 5-star hotels across the globe and have been graced by the bottoms of celebrities at events in the UK such as the Brit Awards, British Grand Prix, G-8 Summit and more. There's no doubting that these loos are a far cry from the non-flush porta-potties, and these ones won't leave you feeling the need to break down after use. They can however be transported to future A-list events, further popularizing the trend of pop-up venues (see "Stay Always Hot With The Pop-Up Nightclub").
Where will you find your inspiration to take a once laughable idea and turn it into a serious business concept?