Turning buckets into washing machines

Turning buckets into washing machines
Highlights

The washing machine is something that many families in urban India cannot think of being without. At the same time, there are even more families that cannot afford owning one.

The washing machine is something that many families in urban India cannot think of being without. At the same time, there are even more families that cannot afford owning one. This is the gap that Mumbai-based Indian startup Vimbas Navrachna's Venus is attempting to bridge.

Venus is a bucket-mounted mini-washing machine that will be priced at Rs 1,500 and will be available in the market by the second quarter of 2015.

Piyush Agarwalla, founder, Vimbas Navrachana, who conceived the idea of a portable washing machine, said, "Hand-washing clothes over a period of time not only leads to shoulder and back pain, but also prolonged exposure to chemicals and detergents can result in skin diseases and rashes. This low-cost device, therefore, comes as a rescue for people, particularly women, from low-income groups."

The portable washing machine could also appeal to people living alone. "A limited production is in place and we have already sold out around 100-150 devices at a price of Rs 2,500. We will be releasing Venus for the mass market at Rs 1,500," Agarwalla added.

The company launched a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to raise money to be able to mass produce the device and to be able to sell it at an affordable price. But it has managed to achieve only 5 per cent of its $50,000 (Rs 30 lakh approximately) goal. The campaign started on October 13 and will close on December 12, 2014.

When asked if there was a possibility of reducing the price further once the required amount of money was raised, Agarwalla replied, "The company had earlier planned to launch Venus at Rs 1,000 but later ruled out after all the calculations were made. Further, to bring the product to the market and reach out to larger groups of people, we need to keep the retailers' cut, which makes it nearly impossible to bring the price down from Rs 1,500."

Targeting another set of users, especially those who don't have access to frequent power supply, the company is working on a DC (direct current) operated version, which can run on a 12 volt battery. The DC variant will also go on sale along with the AC version.

The company is yet to finalise a distribution model for Venus and said it would release all details related to the distribution model by mid-November. But Agarwalla confirmed that it would be a mix of online and offline retailing.

From the demo videos, using the portable washing machine appears to be simple. Users need to fill water in a bucket, add detergent, and mount the machine. It allows users to wash up to 2.5 kg load per 5 minutes wash cycle. According to Vimbas Navrachna, the company has provided sample units to unprivileged families and has received positive feedback.

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