I'm dedicating this installment of Wacky World of Rubber to all of those who have said, "Why didn't I think of that?"
This is the success story of a family-owned company out of Saint George, Utah, named Squatty Potty L.L.C., which has gained a cult-like following for its signature product and now wracks up tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue. It even has branched out to ancillary goods like T-shirts, toilet sprays and, most recently the Poop Emoji toilet plunger, an all-rubber plunger with a plastic handle.
And it all started when founder and CEO Robert Edwards tried to come up with a product to help his mother, Judy Edwards, deal with a lifelong problem with constipation. It was suggested by a medical professional that she put her feet up on a footstool while on the toilet. The reasoning was this helps resemble a squatting position that enables the colon to relax and keep potential problems with constipation at bay.
The footstool worked OK, but wasn't quite right, so Robert Edwards looked to refine the idea and develop a product like nothing available on the market. The first incarnation was wooden, but cost concerns led them to change the design to a plastic version that fits around the base of the toilet and includes rubber foot grips to avoid sliding during use.
Squatty Potty was formed in 2011 and first-year sales totaled just $17,000. But the company took to online marketing of the original product, which helped lead to an appearance on the Dr. Oz show. Howard Stern, Sirius-XM talk show host, started plugging it on his show, as the company also advertised on his program.
But the big turning point came in 2014 when Squatty Potty was featured on the ABC show "Shark Tank." They asked for $350,000 to help boost production in exchange for a 5-percent share in the company.
On the program, they told the sharks that they had $1 million in sales during its first full year, and during the first half of year 2—when they went on the show—they had posted $2 million in revenues, all online with no retail presence.
Two of the sharks said they'd pony up the $350,000, but both wanted a 10-percent stake. They decided to team up with Lori Grenier for those terms. While the Shark Tank episode included more than its share of poop jokes, it also generated some serious buzz. The Edwards said the night the show aired more than 150,000 people visited the firm's website, and within two days they'd posted $1 million in sales. Their faith in Grenier was well-placed, as she helped set up a deal several months later for the Squatty Potty to be sold in all 1,100 Bed, Bath & Beyond locations.
The Utah-based company, which said its main product line is manufactured in the U.S., also has taken its online marketing to new heights, which featured YouTube videos that are at the same time both strange and wildly successful.
The 2015 three-episode viral marketing campaign centered on the "Award-wining Adventures of the Prince of Poop featuring Dookie the Unicorn and Goldi the Dragon." To date it has enjoyed more than 150 million views and won a 2016 Webby Award. The firm also boasts nearly 295,000 followers on Facebook.
And the success story continues. According to a story last month on CNBC (and its "Strange Success" podcast), sales for the company spiked to $19 million in 2016 and nearly $33 million last year. The founders project revenues could reach $100 million in the coming years. Squatty Potty also has risen far about the "As Seen on TV" crowd of products, and now its goods are sold in more than 6,000 retail locations, including Costco, Walmart and Target, in addition to Bed, Bath & Beyond. The firm in the past year has expanded operations in Utah and added a new plant in Canada to focus on international sales (it lists websites in more than 20 countries for global sales).