I’m sure every woman, at some point in her life, has been jealous of the fact that men don’t need a sparkling clean toilet to relieve themselves. So, three Delhi boys, tired of listening to women rant -- “I wish I could stand and pee wherever I want” -- have made this possible.
PeeBuddy, a Delhi-based startup, launched in mid 2014, builds women’s hygiene and intimate care products to enhance the quality of life for women across the country.
The idea was born on a road trip from Delhi to Jaipur in January 2014. “We were four couples on a road trip. The women made our lives hell by wanting us to stop at every fuel station on the way! Plus they always wanted the toilets to be clean. Only one out of five toilets we found on the way met the ladies’ high standards,” says Deep Bajaj, founder of PeeBuddy.
The Eureka moment happened when one of the wives said that she wished she was in Europe because there she could have access to a reusable, plastic device to urinate in any dirty toilet. “This comment rang a bell in my head, and when I mentioned that we should build something like this (but disposable ones) in India, everyone just laughed and ruled out the idea. However, somewhere deep down I didn’t want to let this go and that’s how work on PeeBuddy started,” explains Deep.
Deep, an events and management professional, was helping his wife with the business side of her carpet and rugs designing company. But he decided to take up PeeBuddy full-time in April 2014.
Mohit Bajaj and Rahul Anand, two other friends from the Delhi-Jaipur trip, decided to join Deep in this venture. They quit their cushy finance and advertising jobs mid last year, and joined the company as co-founders.
Assuming that everybody would be eager to embrace this new concept of urination devices, Deep and his friends went all out trying to put the product on the racks of stores. They even had recommendations from doctors, users, and initial torchbearers for the concept. But they were in for a surprise. “Even leading stores, supposedly hyper-modern and focusing on women’s needs showed us the door. For weeks I couldn't believe that they had turned us down because we had the word ‘pee’ in our product or because we were talking about ‘women peeing standing',” says Deep.
The combined initial investment was above a whopping 65 lakh, since they had started April 2014. Deep says that they were confident of their product and refused to give up: We knew women didn’t have access to clean toilets all the time and they needed this product as much as we needed validation. Our only concern was our initial break. We knew that once women get to hear about PeeBuddy, we were going to sell like hot cakes.”
PeeBuddy is an easy to carry, disposable tunnel-shaped paper urination device that ergonomically fits between the legs to enable women to stand and urinate. The working of the device and its design has been adapted from that of a funnel. “We experimented with almost 10 shapes before Rahul came up with this design. As soon as the design was finalised, we filed a design patent for the product, and it came through in Feb 2015,” says Deep.
The product is priced at Rs 200 for a pack of 10, and Rs 375 for a pack of 20.
Though Indian retail stores might need some more time to come around, PeeBuddy got its initial break online. E-commerce websites, like Healthkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon.in, were more than willing to offer it to their customers. Soon retail stores like Modern trade, WHSmith, and NewU in Delhi also started selling the product.
But the company’s biggest validation came when the organisers of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon wanted to make the product available for all its female runners.
The startup has sold about 20,000 packs, approximately worth 15 lakhs, over the last year.
"To me the market is limitless. I will be happy if our public toilets became so clean that women no longer need PeeBuddy, but till then the product will find more and more customers. Especially, when it has the potential to be a woman’s companion in all sorts of medical conditions like arthritis and pregnancy,” explains Deep.
PeeBuddy plans to introduce a range of products in the upcoming months. “Next week, we will launch our second product; intimate wipes for women, so they don’t have to carry tissues or water bottles into toilets,” says Deep.
This will be followed by the launch of a new line of baby care products in May.