The idea for the Scrubba wash bag was conceived in 2010 when founder Ash Newland took a 4 month break from his job as a patent attorney in Australia and decided to travel to Africa to climb Mt Kilimanjaro with a mate. “During the planning stages for the trip, we realised that with all our cold weather and camping gear, we would only be able to pack a few changes of casual clothes. This led to the issue of how we were going to wash our clothes every couple of days. After mulling over this issue for a few weeks, I was led to the idea of washboards – they have been around for centuries and they work very efficiently. The downside is that they are bulky and still require a sink or bucket. It was then that I had the revelation that if we could incorporate a highly flexible washboard into a waterproof sealable bag, we could change the way people wash clothes while traveling”.
A couple of crude prototypes were constructed just days before leaving Australia and Ash Newland spent each night after work in the week leading up to the trip drafting the provisional patent application. “As we didn't have a chance to try the Scrubba wash bag prototypes before the trip, the first use was in the small town of Moshi in Tanzania and we were astounded by how effective it was”. The concept had been validated, but the product was still a long way from hitting the market.
The route to market for the world's smallest washing machine
Following the success of the Scrubba wash bag prototype over the course of the 4 month trip, the prototype and intellectual property were further developed with the view to licensing the technology. This approach changed in late 2011, when Ash Newland decided to quit his job with a large patent attorney firm to focus on bringing the Scrubba wash bag to market.
“While we received positive feedback from potential licensees in Europe, we realised that we needed to prove the market for the Scrubba wash bag”. The company Calibre8 Pty Ltd was incorporated to put this into action.
The first major step to making the Scrubba wash bag a commercial reality was in January 2012 when the concept for the Scrubba wash bag was launched on the crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo by Calibre8. While funds of USD2,500 were sought to assist with tooling, almost USD22,525 was received in pre-orders. “We were blown away by this level of support for our product, but this was quickly followed when we realised the enormity of manufacturing and fulfilling this amount of orders. This was accompanied by many sleepless nights as manufacturing and fulfillment issues arose and were overcome”.
Following the success of the crowdfunding campaign which ended in mid-April, pre-orders were fulfilled in June 2012 and the Scrubba wash bag was officially launched onto the market. “As well as the early adopters from the crowdfunding project, we have received great support from the media including Forbes magazine, Lonely Planet, Buzzfeed, Gizmag and many of the major newspapers across the US, UK and Australia”.
Fast-forward to the present, Calibre8 has expanded its warehousing to several countries to provide fast shipping options across the globe. The Scrubba wash bag models have also developed with usability and durability the key areas of focus. “Our distribution and retailer network is also continually increasing and the Scrubba wash bag is appearing on retailers' shelves around the world”.
While originally designed with backpackers in mind, the Scrubba wash bag has also become the best way to clean clothes for people on vacation, business travelers, students living dorm rooms or small apartments, campers, hunters, cyclists, kayakers or people going on cruises. Whether it is so you can pack light, avoid hotel laundry costs, avoid searching for Laundromats, avoid potential hygiene issues washing in a sink, use less water or simply to have the freedom to wash clothes wherever you want, there is an aspect of the Scrubba wash bag that will appear to all travelers.
The washing machine that gives back clean water
Part of our decision to take the Scrubba wash bag to market ourselves has been to control the high quality of the product and to ensure that those in need are looked after. We realised on a trip to Laos and Cambodia that clean drinking water was scarce in many remote parts of the world and decided to dedicate a portion of our proceeds to tackling this issue.