Apple's Chief Executive, Tim Cook, has "showered" one startup with his support: an environmentally friendly shower head that he personally invested in after trying the product just once. Thanks to his support, the company, Nebia, has seen exponential growth, and Apple has personally installed the shower heads in their corporate campus in Cupertino, California.
Tim Cook's Surprising Investment
Critics of the investment are calling it "strange" and "surprising," simply because a big-time CEO like Cook has invested in such a small company. Nebia is a San Francisco-based company run by just six people. Their product is a shower head that ironically resembles the classic look and shape of an iMac.
It's also proven to be extremely environmentally friendly, cutting down water consumption by up to 70 percent. The typical shower of 20 minutes uses approximately 20 gallons of water. Nebia's shower head uses just six. It does so not by cutting down on the water pressure that most people appreciate in their shower, but by changing the distribution of the water from the head. Small holes transform the water into tiny droplets, and the shower head is designed to increase the surface area of the spray. It simply uses water more efficiently so that you waste less.
Alphabet Is Funding It Too
Alphabet (an affiliate of Google) executive Eric Schmidt has also invested in the product and has tested out the shower head on Google's campus as well. Stanford University, Equinox Gyms, and the Schmidt Family Foundation have also pledged their support and have provided testing grounds for the product.
"Nebia's showering technology has the potential to be transformative," says Wendy Schmidt of the Schmidt foundation. "It's innovative and elegant, and can also have a significant impact on water use — not just in California, where we're experiencing a severe drought — but around the world where fresh water resources are limited."
Nebia is also working on a Kickstarter campaign. Though their goal started out at just $100,000, they have already far surpassed that goal, thanks to the support of their prominent investors.
When it hits the market, the shower head, which comes with an adjustable bracket and portable shower wand, is expected to retail for $399. However, as an incentive, those who invest in the project on Kickstarter will receive it for a discounted price of $299. Nebia executives estimate that shipping of the product will begin in May of 2016.
What Startups Can Learn
This is an incredible opportunity for such a small startup, and it's also an inspiring story for other startups to follow. It offers several important lessons for startups looking to make it big early on. The first is the importance of creating a great product. The Nebia shower head is the solution to a real-world problem, and it's something that a large audience can benefit from.
Next, it's very important to network. It would not have been enough for Nebia to market their product towards locals only. Getting personal backing from such people as Tim Cook and Eric Schmidt is what helped Nebia find its place in the world. You can never aim too high with a product and a dream.
Finally, it's important to ensure intellectual property rights. "We want to own that space, but with a better sense of both experience and water conservancy," said Nebia founder Carlos Gomez Andonaegui, in regard to the eco-friendly shower head market. In order to do that, Nebia has worked with a startup lawyer to protect their idea and their property rights.
This is one area that many startups fail to secure thanks to the sheer chaos of starting a business. "A new venture requires a lot of work; it sometimes feels like there aren't enough hours in the day," says Steven Buchwald, founding partner of Buchwald & Associates, a prominent startup law firm in New York. "A startup lawyer may be a resourceful mentor and a powerful ally." Legal support helps startups secure their ideas and protect their property from copyright infringement, lawsuits, and other possible legal issues.
Startup companies around the world can learn some valuable lessons from Nebia's experience. They show that with the right product, thorough knowledge of networking, and sound legal support, even the smallest of startup companies can find backers as prominent as Tim Cook.
[Image via ABCNews.Go.com]