We have a pending UK patent (Patent Application No. 1613313.4) with a preferential international application being filed this month (July 2017).
Read how it all came together here, or if you want to see why it’s more than just a squeezable bottle go straight to the technical bit here.
The initial idea
The Shiffter came about by accident after its inventor, Kam Mistry, visited the toilet one day. With the flush not cleaning the bowl properly he decided, as many of us would, to grab the bleach bottle to see if he could clean it up by squirting bleach onto the bowl.
As you probably know, squirting bleach is a desperate measure and isn’t remotely effective as the bleach is really thick and therefore doesn’t come out of the bottle fast. On this occasion the bleach bottle was just about empty, so he took the lid off and filled it with water. However, having filled it with water, he noticed that the low viscosity of the water (compared to the thick bleach) meant that squeezing the bottle allowed the water to jet out under high pressure and effectively jet wash the remnants from the toilet bowl much more effectively than bleach…and much less disgustingly than having to use a toilet brush. Eureka!
Of course it’s easy to get carried away and think ‘What a great idea for a product,’ but he initially talked himself out of it. Why? Because, if it can be done with an empty bleach or toilet cleaning fluid bottle then why would anyone pay for the something that does the same?
But then, after a bit of thought and discussions with a friend, it became apparent that it would indeed make a great product. Here’s why:
DESIGN – many of us really care about interior design and how our homes, including our bathrooms, look – a stylish product looks much nicer than a tatty bleach bottle left next to the toilet.
An old bleach bottle won’t look too good in your bathroom especially when the label peels off leaving sticky glue stains on it…and it’s considerably cleaner than a dirty toilet brush!
SAFETY – using an old bottle which previously held bleach or chemicals could be very dangerous when cleaning it out for use as a Shiffter and also a danger to young children who may inadvertently pick up the wrong bottle by mistake
FIT FOR THE JOB – aside from the aesthetics and safety concerns bleach and toilet cleaning liquid bottles aren’t designed to last for years with daily squeezing – as they will crack and leak
So, he decided that making a product was indeed a good idea and there was a market for it.
The design journey…
Having decided to go ahead, an initial design concept was drawn up with a design company – unfortunately it didn’t have the ‘wow’ factor and was going to be too expensive to manufacture. Essentially it was a squeezable bottle – quite similar to a bleach bottle – that looked nice.
So Kam decided to look for another product design company. He was fortunate to be able to find D2M and coincidentally they were only about half an hour away from his home town of Cheltenham. D2M stands for ‘design to market’ – which is just the type of help he needed, someone who could turn the Shiffter from an idea into a real, manufactured product.
Having briefed Richard (the designer) on what he was looking for, D2M then came up with three design concepts. Here are the original sketches for the chosen design.
It looked great and generally hit the spot but we needed to tweak it a little so that it could be filled horizontally rather than vertically, but the sketches above formed the basis of the current design. Nicely presented visuals too – I’m sure you’ll agree!
Here’s what we ended up with after making the tweaks:
This is where it gets clever
The new design came with a few added benefits:
- a ‘cross slit’ valve at the squirting end keeps water in until you squeeze it – therefore you don’t need to remove the lid
- the ‘air valve’ and filler cap are at the opposite end to the end that will be pointed at the toilet – much more hygienic
- the combination of valves allow the Shiffter to stay non-drip when not in use but allow it to retain its shape and water pressure
- the inclusion of valves also mean that you can simply pick the Shiffter up from its stand and put it back in place without any complicated fiddling
- having no removable lids and nozzles means that there is nothing to drop down the toilet accidentally
These aspects meant that we’d created something simple, but at the same time something quite clever. Whilst there are no moving parts or batteries (which is also great for reliability) the ingenious use of the water and air valves meant that we’d come up with something a bit special with intellectual property worth protecting.
So the new design represented a significant improvement from the initial idea – a great design with improved practicality. Consequently we have a pending UK patent (Patent Application No. 1613313.4) with foreign applications due to be filed after the Kickstarter campaign.