A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
What's a Shiffter?
In short, it’s the long-awaited replacement for the toilet brush.
Does anyone enjoy cleaning the toilet with a toilet brush? Without being too graphic, it’s a messy and unpleasant experience… and the sight of a used toilet brush sat next to the toilet can stay in your memory, for all the wrong reasons.
This is where the Shiffter comes in.
Essentially it’s a jet wash for the toilet. It’s a specially designed squeezable bottle, which you fill with water and leave next to your toilet. After you’ve… how can we put this… got up from your seat, flushed and realised that the toilet bowl is still a little messy, instead of grabbing a toilet brush and chemicals, or a pile of toilet roll to wipe the bowl by hand, you simply point the Shiffter at the toilet bowl and give it a squeeze. This releases a jet of water to wash the toilet clean. It’s a simple idea but it works – and let’s face it - many of the best ideas are simple.
But there’s a further, important, dimension to the Shiffter – once in production a chunk of the profits will go to related causes – and that could be substantial. (More on that below.)
Why is the Shiffter a great product?
Check out the photos and the video of the Shiffter prototype being used, but here’s what makes it an ideal invention:
it’s the solution to a problem - using toilet brushes isn’t pleasant
the market is huge - just think how many toilet brushes it could replace
more friendly to the environment – as you don’t have to use bleach and chemicals when you use it, and it eliminates 'panic flushing'
it’s affordable - no mechanical parts and batteries mean an affordable price (and no toilet brush heads to replace regularly)
protection of intellectual property- we have a pending UK patent (Patent Application No. 1613313.4) with foreign applications due to be filed after this Kickstarter campaign
On top of these five key areas the Shiffter is also ideal for the millions of homes that have septic tanks – once again due to the need to use fewer chemicals which would adversely affect the bacteria in the tank.
Hang on a sec, isn’t it just a squeezable bottle?
Nope there’s more to it than that. If you scroll down this page a bit and look under “This is where it gets clever” you’ll see what we mean, but in a nutshell it uses two valves – one which keeps water in until you squeeze it and the another at the opposite end, which allows air back into the Shiffter to maintain its shape so that it can be repeatedly squeezed without losing pressure. They also make it non-drip until it needs to be used.
Here's the demo, in case you haven't viewed it in the 'prototype' gallery:
Kickstarter has been responsible for some great products, but this one could potentially be one of the biggest – as it’s an affordable new product (not a variant of a product) relevant to all households and business premises - including hotels, motels, bars and offices. So the market is huge… and don’t forget that many homes have more than one toilet. The potential exists to sell hundreds of millions of units. And this is where it also offers a great opportunity to be socially responsible…
Giving back to good causes
Making toilet cleaning less disgusting is a good cause in its own right – but when the Shiffter goes on sale it will also help others. Filthy brushes and dirty toilet bowls aren’t exactly topics we rush to discuss. Similarly, most of us are reluctant to discuss stomach and bowel related problems. Colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohns disease, persistent painful constipation, colon cancer, stomach cancer and general abdominal pain are topics we avoid discussing, but we all know someone whose lifestyle has been seriously affected by such conditions. Mental health issues are also stigmatised so this is also an area for which we could raise money.
This Kickstarter campaign is about raising money to go into production. When the Shiffter (hopefully) goes on sale after this campaign, 20% of the money made from sales will be donated to related good causes such as research, charities, nursing, care and counselling. There are over 365 million households in the US and Europe alone and around a billion worldwide, so there’s a huge potential market for the Shiffter and huge potential to raise a great deal of money for good causes.
What do we mean by “20% of the money we make will be donated to good causes”? Put simply it’s 20% after we take out the running costs such as making your Shiffter, selling costs, wages, packaging, marketing and distribution costs – otherwise it wouldn’t be financially viable…and we’ll make sure that no accounting trickery is used to reduce how much we donate. There’s no small print, it’s as simple as that and if things really pick up, the plan is to donate much more – and that’s a promise!
If all goes well, we’re hoping to raise millions of pounds for good causes.
Incidentally, if your organisation is a good cause, or you know of one which could benefit, please get in touch.
This Kickstarter campaign is focused on getting the Shiffter made. The Shiffter has been designed and a prototype made – check out the video above to see how well it works.
We’ve derived final design, testing, tooling, manufacturing, shipping and distribution costs and this campaign aims to raise the money to cover those costs so that we can make and deliver the product to anyone who pledges support and then go into production and sell it commercially – worldwide.
It would have been nice to have been able to include postage and packaging in the pledge costs for this campaign but unfortunately, it’s not cheap to send in the mail especially to overseas markets, and absorbing postal costs would have wiped out the margin that will pay for the tooling and manufacturing costs – which is the aim of this campaign. That’s a bit of a shame, but hopefully you won’t mind that minor niggle when you decide to be one of the first to back it and start something big!
Clarity on charity!
Above we mentioned the fundraising aspects of the Shiffter. It’s important to make it clear that donations you make to this campaign will not go to directly to charity, rather, assuming the campaign is a success, they will enable the Shiffter to go into production.
Once it goes into production, the aforementioned percentage of profit from those sales will then go to good causes - and we should be able to raise much more for good causes in this way than just by running a simple charity fundraising campaign.
Hopefully that’s clear, but if you have any questions, drop us a line. We wouldn't want you to think that you were making a donation to charity - and besides, Kickstarter rules don't allow it.
How did the Shiffter come about?
The Shiffter came about by accident after I (Kam Mistry – see below), visited the toilet one day. With the flush not cleaning the bowl properly I decided, as many of us would, to grab the bleach bottle to see if I 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 I took the lid off and filled it with water. However, having filled it with water, I 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 I initially talked myself 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, I 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 I decided to look for another product design company. I was fortunate to be able to find D2M and coincidentally they were only about half an hour away in my home town of Cheltenham. D2M stands for ‘design to market’ – which is just the type of help I needed, someone who could turn the Shiffter from an idea into a real, manufactured product.
Having briefed Richard (the designer) on what I was looking for, he 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 (something I found out the hard way!)
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 this Kickstarter campaign
Prototyping and functionality – does it work?
Obviously you want to be sure that the product actually works so we created a functional 3D-printed prototype of the Shiffter to test it. This prototype isn’t the final white colour of the product and its finish isn’t smooth, but it does what is supposed to do so should tell you everything you need to know.
Due to its nature it’s not easy to show the Shiffter in a real world situation as, it may turn your stomach (excuse the irony) - so you’re probably quite relieved that the demo video in the prototype section shows the Shiffter’s effectiveness using chocolate spread instead – and chocolate spread is really tough to shifft! Hopefully you'll agree that it works.
A quick note on the prototype and the final product: As the 3D-printed prototype is made of different material to the final product it is much stiffer and harder to squash than the final blow moulded product – so the final product will be even more effective.
Bleach, toilet cleaner and the environment - just to avoid any confusion, as the Shiffter only uses water, you'll still need to use toilet cleaner, bleach, or preferably a more environmentally friendly cleaner, once in a while.
The Shiffter is designed to clean off leftover poop, so you'll still need to use cleaning fluid to kill the germs and bacteria once in a while - but you'll end up using considerably less of it and you can just squirt it around the bowl without the need to use a brush and get splashed.
Ever emptied a bleach bottle or toilet cleaner in sheer desperation to clean poop from the back of the bowl? You won't need to do that any more, and don't forget the water you'll save as 'panic flushing' becomes a thing of the past!
Colours and customisation
The first Shiffters will be white - a simple clean colour - but we'll be looking at other colours for the future. If you have any suggestions, let us know. We're also thinking about having the raised logos painted.
For commercial applications - eg hotels, health services - we'll be able to provide branded the Shiffters too.
Getting feedback on an invention whilst keeping it secret isn’t easy, however the limited research has shown that men and women of all ages like the idea – so that’s a good start. They also like the fundraising dimension and agree with the sales potential. As the launch of this Kickstarter campaign became closer, more people were made aware of it – and the great news is that they had experienced the problems that that Shiffter would fix and liked it!
Interestingly enough many have stated that they currently grab a handful of toilet paper sheets to wipe the back of the toilet bowl when the flush doesn't do its job, rather than use a toilet brush - so they're looking forward to not having to do that any longer too!
Hopefully you’ll agree that the branding works well too. The name ‘Shiffter’ says what the product does whilst being a name in its own right. It also lends itself to helping creativity with marketing ideas.
But branding isn’t just about a product name or logo – it’s about what the business stands for. The Shiffter brand aims to be fun and at the same time serious and one with professionalism, integrity and genuine social responsibility through charitable giving to sensitive causes.
What happens next?
Assuming the campaign goes well, the aim is to have:
tooling made and manufactured samples of the product tested and signed-off within three months
packaging designed and made around the same time
fulfilment of orders (ie despatch to you) in four months’ time
Where will it be manufactured?
Manufacturing will take place in China. D2M has sourced production with one of its regular contacts in the area. In the long term, sales and locations of demand may determine where manufacturing occurs -ie it would nice to have manufacturing occur in the same countries that the Shiffter is sold to help to local jobs, but at the moment that's a little romantic and we have to be practical.
Tooling and production costs are considerably lower in China and the quality is excellent – an ideal choice for manufacturing.
What about sales and pricing?
Post Kickstarter the intention is to sell internationally to consumers online and in stores. The initial price will be £10 (12.5$USD)
Whilst businesses can also buy the regular Shiffter, it will also be available in bulk – eg to hotels and large organisations – and with the option to have their own branding.
A BIG THANK YOU to the team...
The Shiffter is the idea of Kam Mistry, that’s me, but more on me later in the 'About me' section.
First I’d like to thank the rest of the team for its work so far.
D2M Innovation – the product designers who have worked with me to get the Shiffter…well…shiffting. We’ve gone from concept to prototype together in order to put this pitch in front of you. If we reach the target we’ll be working together on the manufacturing and shipment. Here's a pic of the D2M team:
Wynne-Jones - patent attorneys who have helped me file the patent for the Shiffter and will be working on international patents and other protection
Illustration, Animation and Logo
Gary Godel – a talented illustrator and animator who I met in the gym…although he goes there much more regularly than me. Gary put together the animation for the Shiffter and the logo.
Andy Turvey – another local talent. He’s been a professional voice over artist for more than 27 years and has clients all over the world. Andy was responsible for the voiceover for the Shiffter animation. After he recorded it, Gary then set the animation timings to his voice. Coincidentally, I think we also went to the same school…although a few years apart.
Rebecca Northway – an extremely talented award-winning photographer and also my girlfriend! She specialises in portrait and wedding photography, but was kind enough to take the Shiffter product photos for me.
Charlotte Tarrant - costume designer and one of Rebecca’s favourite portrait and fashion models, for hand-modelling for the photo shoot. Her delicate hands look much better than my big hairy ones and also show that you don’t need brute strength to use a Shiffter.
Royal Mail - If this Kickstarter campaign is a success it will require thousands of items to be shipped worldwide. Looking at this as a start-up isn’t easy, especially when you need to keep things secretive, so many thanks to Matthew Smith at Royal Mail for helping with distribution options and pricing.
Everyone above has been key to the project – they’re all talented in what they do, have passion for doing a great job…and they’re lovely people too. Not a bad bunch to work with at all!
And now I suppose you need to know who I am. My name is Kam Mistry. I am 46 years old and am the man behind the Shiffter. I’m not one for personal publicity - which is a little ironic as I've been working in marketing and public relations for about 24 years. I’m based in Gloucestershire, in the UK.
Fundamentally, I’m a firm believer in substance over style – so rather than talk about myself and convince you to support this campaign, I’m hoping that the 47 second animation at the top of this page has successfully explained the idea quickly, backed up by the product demo showing using the prototype in use and the huge number of words on this page!
I have experience in the commercial, charity and public sectors, and have spent the past 10 years as a communications manager in local government. With my blend of business knowledge, marketing experience and a social conscience I tend to look at things from various perspectives – and this is why I’m looking to make the Shiffter a commercial success and at the same time raise money for good causes.
I also have a couple more ideas, with even more potential than the Shiffter, that could raise even more money for good causes – but I need to walk before I run, so first let's make the Shiffter a success first!
Anyway, hopefully you’ll think I’m a decent guy and have a good team of people helping me to make the Shiffter a great product, a successful brand and something which makes the world - and our bathrooms - a better place.
Thanks for reading this. Best wishes. Kam
Risks and challenges
Hopefully we’ve thought things through pretty well but there are inevitable risks.
Making a new product and distributing it internationally is a big step, but with the knowledge and experience services of D2M for the production aspects and help from Royal Mail for distribution, these areas are in good hand.
Talking about poo and cleaning may also be a turn-off too, however hopefully we’ve gone about it in the right way…and you’ll be surprised how enthused people are about the product, what it does and how it will improve their lives…well, their toilet cleaning, anyway. People like the link to ‘embarrassing’ illness causes too.
Possibly the main risk to the success of this campaign is that the product is of a relatively low price and therefore requires a large number of backers to reach the target– between 1,000 and 4,000, depending on the rewards chosen. Having said that, many Kickstarter projects have been successfully funded when they needed thousands of backers and as the Shiffter appeals to a broad market this shouldn’t be a problem. Additionally, we are publicising the Shiffter in the media and have asked some of the good causes that could benefit to put the word out, so this should help.
Shipping costs – we’d have liked to include shipping costs for free however the relative bulkiness of the product makes it costlier than we’d like to put in the mail/post. Having said that, the altruistic leaning of the Kickstarter community, intent on wanting to see new ideas come to life should limit shipping costs being too much of a turn off.
Changes in the exchange rate - Brexit and other international developments have already led to a drop in the value of the pound against the dollar since we started work on the Shiffter - but this drop has already been accounted for in the costings. Obviously things could change again but it shouldn't be too problematic.