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Scared of Germs on Your Toilet Seat? This Mumbai Startup Has The Perfect Solution For You

Did you know that studies have found dangerous strains of antibiotic-resistant germs on public toilet seats?

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Public restrooms aren’t exactly known for their cleanliness.

Soiled, dirty and riddled with germs, they are often the last resort for most people, especially women, who forego using them and instead, wait till they get home.

While traditional cleaning methods of using toilet paper, disinfectants or jet spray don’t exactly guarantee hygiene, it also isn’t possible for the cleaning staff to douse toilet seats with Harpic every time someone uses them.

So, is this an entirely helpless scenario?

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Not really.

Enter Safe Seat, an electronic and an automatic sanitary machine with a sensor attached in each toilet seat, which rolls out a fresh sanitary film roll every time you use it.

“With our product, every user gets a 100% dry and clean toilet seat. It reduces the chance of diseases and infections. It’s not like we are selling the customer a very nice-looking or pleasant smelling washroom, but the basic hygiene which is needed when your body comes in contact with the toilet seat must be maintained. That’s what Safe Seat gives you,” says Ruchit Desai, Director at Agrasen Global Private Limited, a Mumbai-based startup which manufactures Safe Seat, speaking to The Better India.

Started by three college friends—Niket Shah, an MBA in Finance, Ruchit Desai and Tapasya Raika, a chartered accountant—Safe Seat is the first major product that Agrasen Global has sold commercially.

“None of us wanted to do a regular job. We initially started a cafe serving continental food, a venture which lasted about a year and a half. Due to various circumstances, we had to shut it down, but the experience taught us a lot about running a business. We had to find and develop an innovative product that addressed an immediate need,” says Ruchit.

A Safe Seat toilet. (Source: Safe Seat)
A Safe Seat toilet. (Source: Safe Seat)

So, how does Safe Seat work?

The idea is to give every user a new, fresh and clean seat. A plastic roll made of recyclable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) covers the seat. On the press of the stainless steel button located on top of the seat, a fresh sanitary film roll automatically comes out, thus collecting the used film on the other side.

“This ensures one exact rotation on each use, making it the cleanest seat to use. The used film will be destroyed by a cutter to ensure one-time use, so it can never be re-used. The time interval between the two push(es) ensures no misuse of the machine,” says the company website.

Desai further explains that the toilet seat is made of recyclable ABS plastic, while the roll is made of a recyclable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) sanitary film roll which is 100% biodegradable.

The biodegradability of this plastic has been certified by the Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology and the National Toxicology Centre.

Once you’re done using the given seat, you should ideally replace it for the next person to use. “Unfortunately, not many people care about the next person. People get up and leave,” adds Desai.

Installing a Safe Seat machine usually entails a one-time cost of Rs 12,500, while future costs include purchasing a roll which can last 150 uses. Each roll costs about Rs 300. The company manufactures both the seat and rolls in a factory on the outskirts of Mumbai.

Here is a demonstration of how it works:

Not an original concept

“The very concept of Safe Seat isn’t our brainchild. It’s already available abroad. However, we are the only firm manufacturing this product in India, and we have patented its production here. We were always looking to do business in a product which solves a basic problem and is innovative. Problem-solving innovation is the mantra that drives our business. We have one more product—the umbrella wrapping machine—that allows you to wrap your umbrella dry when you enter office premises or home,” says Desai.

It was around February 2017, when Agrasen Global first began marketing the product. Before that, it took the startup six months to develop it.

“Initially it was a huge task to get anyone to buy it because here we have very little awareness of hygiene. Not a single customer was willing to invest the money required to set it up. Ultimately, we drew up a strategy, ventured into the premium retail segment approaching restaurants, gyms, salons. In the beginning, we sold these dispensers to these businesses for free, which they would then show off to their clients. It took us six months to sell our first machine, and slowly, people and businesses began to accept the product. It was a very tough slog. All three of us ventured into the field, vigorously developed networks and built visibility for the product in Mumbai,” says Ruchit.

Also Read: Gun, Gods & Fines: How IAS Officers Ensured Everyone in Gwalior Dist. Has a Toilet!

At the end of the startup’s first year, their railway tender received approval—a massive breakthrough and a significant landmark for them.

The sanitary roll on the toilet seat. (Source: Safe Seat)
The sanitary roll on the toilet seat. (Source: Safe Seat)

Today, they supply the product to all the major trains like Rajdhani, Duronto and Tejas Express. In fact, Safe Seats have been set up in first class AC compartments, and that’s when the startup caught the attention of the media.

The startup primarily receives funding from Ashutosh Bhatt, a Gujarati businessman and investor, who first took a punt on these Mumbai-based entrepreneurs.

Today, with a clientele ranging from McDonald’s, Sony Entertainment Network, and Dream 11, to premium dining and drinking establishments in Mumbai, the company has 1500 clients selling the product across 18 different cities in India.

The startup primarily receives funding from Ashutosh Bhatt, a Gujarati businessman and investor, who first took a punt on these Mumbai-based entrepreneurs.

What these developments tell us is that more and more businesses are at least taking the health of their employees, customers and clients, very seriously.

Instead of spending more on disinfectants and other chemicals to regularly clean your toilet, businesses are investing in a Safe Seat.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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