Holding your urine for too long can weaken the bladder muscles over time. It can also lead to problems such as incontinence and, in the long run. not being able to fully empty your bladder.
It can also cause urinary tract infections due to bacteria build-up.
While some of us may know this, many of us are forced to hold urine for prolonged periods, especially when outside. Moreover, the non-availability of clean restrooms is a huge problem for those who travel frequently.
Siddhant Tawarawala used this very problem to find a viable solution and founded a company called Peeschute. The solution lay in the development of a unisex disposable urine bag that helps many relieve themselves without the bother of spilling.
The disposable urine bag is lined with a special gel that instantly solidifies urine, turning it into an odour-free, non-liquid that can be stored and disposed of at one’s convenience. The pouch itself is shaped like an envelope and can not just fit into your pocket but can also be easily sealed after use.
Speaking to The Better India, Siddhant says, “I have been travelling extensively since the age of 15, and I have experienced the issue of non-availability of clean restrooms firsthand on several occasions.”
He adds, “I got a chance to look for solutions to this problem when I was pursuing my management degree (MBA) from Nirma University.”
It took Siddhant three years to go from a prototype to launching a commercially viable product.
These urine bags are leak-proof and also do not emit any foul smell. They can also be stored with urine in them for up to 10 days. The urine bags, once full, can be disposed of like all other sanitary waste is disposed of.
To date, Peeschute has sold close to 2,50,000 units and served over 3,500 customers. Besides India, it is also sold in the US, UK and Canada.
But the seeds of Peeschute were sown in Jalna, Maharashtra.
Siddhant hails from Janla, located about 400 km from Mumbai. Post schooling, he left home and moved to Mumbai to pursue his engineering degree.
Siddhant, who used the public buses to return to his hometown often, credits these long and uncomfortable journeys for the creation of Peeshute. “I would ensure that I did not drink too much water before my journey. The driver would not make too many stops and travelling with a full bladder is always uncomfortable. There was also one time when I was pushed to empty my bladder into an empty bottle. Not a very pleasant experience, but one that stayed with me and led me to conceptualise Peeschute.”, he says.
He adds, “Being away from home, living by myself helped me explore and understand myself better. It gave me a chance to also tap into my potential.”
“I realised while in my third year of engineering that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It was also the time when start-ups were sprouting up in India,” says Siddhant.
‘Wee’ Solution to Large Problems
He also adds that Peeschute wasn’t his first business idea. During his time at NIRMA University, Siddhant says he was toying with another business idea. “That was something that didn’t see the light of day. Though, what it did was to help me think like an entrepreneur.” During his second year at a brainstorming workshop on commercial problems that do not have a viable solution yet, the idea of Peescuhute was born. “During that session, sanitation emerged as a prominent issue. Finding a solution to that excited me,” he says.
Armed with the problem and a possible solution, Siddhant reached out to VentureStudio, a startup incubator based in Ahmedabad. “I was allowed to work under one of their schemes, called Nidhi Prayas. This is a programme that gives college students a chance to work on solving a problem with a larger impact,” he says. That’s how Siddhant got his first investment of Rs 10 lakh from VentureStudio.
Siddhant worked closely with VentureStudio for 18 months from 2018 to 2020 on fine-tuning the product. “The grant was specifically to materialise the idea and the process was filled with learnings for us,” he says. Siddhant recalls using empty bottles, zip lock bags, balloons and condoms lined with cotton and wood pulp to find viable ways of storing the urine without any spillage.
Tanvi Shah Rangwala, CEO, VentureStudio, who worked closely with Peeschute says, “Peeschute is a perfect example of how innovation-driven entrepreneurship can be beneficial to innovators, our nation and environment. VentureStudio is proud to be the first support partner to Peeschute in its exciting journey. We are also grateful to the Department of Science & Technology (DST) for schemes like Nidhi Prayas which support ideas that generate innovative solutions for local and global challenges.”
After having successfully launched their product in 2020, Peeschute closed its first angel investment round in June 2020 led by Marwari Angel’s group, Hyderabad. More recently they found an investor at Shark Tank with Aman Gupta, co-founder and CEO of boAt Lifestyle making an investment commitment of Rs 75 lakh.
Aman says, “The personal care and hygiene space is booming In India and the market needs innovative products like Peeschute which makes a huge impact.”
‘Holding Back’ on Talk & Task
While Siddhant was all set to come up with a product to solve a larger problem, he says early conversations about how the product worked were never easy. “For the longest time, I never discussed what I was doing with anyone other than my immediate family members. There was always a sense of holding back when it came to telling people openly about my work. In hindsight, I wish I had discussed it with people. Family members always praised the product and somehow I missed getting critical feedback in the early stages.”
But no one thought that Siddhant would take this up seriously. Most of them assumed it was a passing phase and Siddhant would move on to some other business idea. “It was only when I started meeting people outside of my family that I got accurate feedback.” However, even that was fraught with challenges. Convincing people he did not know to urinate into a bag was extremely difficult.
“I would approach close to 50 people of which only a handful would oblige. Some would sneer at me while others would openly tell me I was crazy,” he says.
“After a few initial tries, I became besharam (shameless) in asking people to use the product and give me feedback,” he says. From starting as a product that people could use when travelling, Siddhant says that many iterations later, the product now caters to senior citizens, people with low mobility issues, patients on bed rest after surgeries, pregnant women and even children.
Aditi Roukhaliya, a Mumbai-based travel photographer, says, “I never wish to enter a public toilet for fear of UTIs, contracting COVID, bad odour and unpleasant experiences [I have had]. Peeschute solves these challenges effectively making my journeys hassle-free.”
Currently, there are two products they offer – Peeschute traveller, which is a one-time use product costing Rs 10 and Peeschute Medi, which is reusable for up to three or four times costing Rs 100 for a pack of three.
You can click here to buy the products.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)