Washie the Cleaner Toilet Seat wins $20,000 Prize at Boise Startup Week Pitch Competition
October 14, 2019
POCATELLO – Washie the Cleaner Toilet Seat, designed by Idaho State University alum Rob Poleki and helped by the ISU researchers, won $20,000 at the Boise Startup Week Pitch Competition in mid-October.
“It was a huge opportunity for Washie,” Poleki said. “We have come so far in the last five years, from building the toilet seat in my garage to a product winning the Pitch Competition against huge companies. The toilet seat comes in for the win.”
Poleki, a former Bannock County Clerk, has invented a toilet seat that includes a motion-activated sensor that dispenses an “eco-friendly cleanser” that can be wiped away and is designed for easy cleaning.
The competition had 32 entries, that were narrowed down to 16 semifinalists, then four finalists and Washie won in the final on Oct. 9.
The Washie project was helped by an $83,000 Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant from the Idaho Department of Commerce to the Poleki and researchers in the ISU mechanical engineering and chemistry departments. The IGEM grant received in May funds researchers in the ISU mechanical engineering and chemistry departments to test the life cycle of the product and how effective the cleansing chemical is and how the chemicals react to parts of the product.
The Washie seats are being installed in several airports, and Poleki is in negotiations with several other airports and other enterprises.
Boise Startup Week is an annual educational, networking and social event for startup founders looking for investments and investors seeking projects. It is sponsored by more than 50 businesses and other organizations.
Idaho State University, a Carnegie-classified doctoral high research activity university and teaching institution founded in 1901, attracts students from around the world to its Idaho campuses. At the main campus in Pocatello, and at locations in Meridian, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls, ISU has nine Colleges, a Graduate School and a Division of Health Sciences that together offer more than 250 certificate and degree programs. More than 12,000 students attend ISU. Idaho State University is the state's designated lead institution in health professions.