WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
SQUATTY POTTY LLC
St. George, Utah
LOCATION1664 S. Dixie Drive, Suite F-102
St. George, Utah 84770
HISTORYThe Edwards family in St. George had always been very health conscious. But after a lifetime of constipation problems, a medical professional recommended that Judy Edwards, the mother, use a footstool to raise her knees while using the toilet. She tried it and it worked, making a world of difference.
Some further research uncovered the anatomical reasons for the improvement. Humans have a kink in the bottom of the colon which serves to maintain continence. Sitting on a toilet relaxes that kink but squatting opens everything up for better evacuation.
But the footstool wasn't perfect, so one of the sons, Robert "Bobby" Edwards, saw a business opportunity and started looking for a better solution. The knees needed to be raised to the proper level to approximate the natural squatting position. And the mechanism needed to be convenient and economical. The use of a stool in conjunction with a conventional toilet kept the cost down. A curve in the stool allowed it to be conveniently stored underneath the toilet.
Their first foot support was made out of wood. They named it the Squatty Potty based on what they heard traditional hole-in-ground toilets in China were called. The family began giving footstools to friends, who considered them gag gifts, until they started using them. Bobby saw the results and that people really liked them.
So in 2011, a small family business was launched by Bill, Judy, and Bobby Edwards with Bobby as CEO. Bobby, his parents, and one other brother took $35,000 to set up a website and began manufacturing and selling for real. Judy decided the stools needed to be made out of plastic to bring down the price. They placed their first large order for 2,000 of them from China. That seemed like a lot. But Bobby sent free Squatty Potties to health bloggers to generate buzz and orders started to roll in.
In 2012, they got a call offering to feature the Squatty Potty on the Emmy Award-winning show "The Doctors". At first, Bill Edwards thought it was a crank call from his kids. But that exposure caused a boom in sales. Howard Stern started talking about the product which also helped. To watch that episode of "The Doctors", click here.
There was an interview with the Edwards' on the "ABC 4 News" out of Salt Lake City on November 12, 2014. To watch that interview, click here.
Then on November 14, 2014, Squatty Potty hit the big time when the Edwards' made their pitch on the hundredth anniversary episode (Season 6, Episode E09, Week 8) of ABC's "Shark Tank". They made a deal with Lori Greiner to give her 10% of the company for $350,000 plus her support. During the first half of 2014, there had been $2 million in Squatty Potty sales. They sold $1 million in Squatty Potties within 24 hours of their TV appearance. Lori got them into Bed Bath & Beyond and within 3 months of the Shark Tank airing, there were $12.3 million in Squatty Potty sales! To watch the Squatty Potty segment of that Shark Tank episode, click here and to watch a Shark Tank update, click here.
Headquarters of the company is still in St. George. Contracted manufacturing is now done entirely in the United States. That saves on transportation costs and gives them the ability to scale production up or down quickly as needed.
The biggest challenge for Squatty Potty has been how to talk about a delicate subject. They have tried to find a balance between health and humor in their marketing. A YouTube ad was proposed that stars a Prince Charming character and a unicorn that poops ice cream. The prince says, "This is where your ice cream comes from. Unicorns are good at pooping, but you know who sucks at pooping? You do." When first presented the idea for the video, the Edwards family thought it was too cheeky and too expensive. But in talking about a subject that nobody wants to talk about, if a unicorn, or anything, is going to show poop, it would be better to show something people like such as ice cream. It's not okay to talk about poop, but it is okay to talk about ice cream. The ad was eventually made at a cost of $250,000 and it turned out to be a hit. At last count, it had over 100 million hits and sales soared. To watch the ad, click here. To learn about the background of ad, click here and to see the making of the ad click here.
On August 24, 2016, Jane Wells did a followup story on CNBC entitled, "Mom's constipation turns into a $30 million cult juggernaut". To see this story, click here.
REFERENCESInfluence of Body Position on Defecation in Humans
Article by Ryuji Sakakibara, Kuniko Tsunoyama, Hiroyasu Hosoi, Megumi Sugiyama, Masahito Kishi, Emina Ogawa, Hitoshi Terada, Tomoyuki Uchiyama, and Tomonori Yamanishi
Impact of Ethnic Habits of Defecographic Measurements
Article by Saeed Rad, MD
Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health
Article by Dov Sikirov, MD