People 19 November 2018
Shubham Issar and Amanat Anand co-founders of SoaPen met during their college years. Now they are both invested in their passion of bringing awareness and teaching kids proper hand washing. Their idea was to create a product that will make it fun for kids to wash their hands while learning about the risk of germs.
While going through the concept of creating SoaPen it introduced them to shocking statistics.
“In developing nations, over 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die due to infectious illnesses that can be prevented by the simple act of washing hands with soap. A lack of awareness and lack of access to soap are some of the barriers that prevent kids from washing hands." Schools are where majority of the diseases are transmitted among children.
While they are now launching a successful business, Issar and Anand faced challenges along the way. They said research and development and finding the right business partners were difficult.
“Recently our focus has shifted to getting the word out of our launch through various marketing channels which has been a challenge due to our small startup budget. We're facing all challenges head on creatively!"
SoaPen changes the way kids wash their hands, making it easily accessible with the placement of soap from the restroom to the classroom. The product consists of a portable alternative to sanitizers. Moms and kids on the go can carry it in their bags and never miss a hand wash.
Photo courtesy of SoaPen.com
The co-founders thought creatively of a new way to incentivize kids to enjoy the hand washing process by allowing them to draw with their product on their hands. Then under water, kids would need to really rub their hands to remove all traces of the drawing- washing their hands for the right amount of time which is 20 to 40 seconds. On the other hand, teachers and parents can now check if the kids actually washed their hands by looking for any left over traces of the drawing.
Their vision was for SoaPen to make a boring and simple task such as handwashing fun, simple and colorful! Issar and Anand emphasized “SoaPen is a great teaching tool for kids between 3 and 8 years of age and it encourages them to wash their hands.
The time they wash for is intuitive with SoaPen and parents don't have to sing the Happy Birthday song all the time to make sure kids wash their hands!" Their goal is to raise awareness around the benefits of hand washing and promote global access to soap.
In order to encourage hand washing habits all over the world, the company launched a social initiative where for every 3 SoaPens sold in the US, they will donate 1 SoaPen to a low income school. During Issar and Amanat's visit to schools in Mumbai, India they realized that even when soap was being donated to schools, teachers would store it away in their closets fearing over pumping of liquid soap or stealing.
“They would take it out once during the mid day meal and line up the students to put a coin sized amount on their hands which is a big hassle as the student teacher ratio in these classrooms would end up being 60 students to 1 teacher and kids would end up washing their hands once a day if at all."
Photo Credit: afewgoodclicks.com
In 2016, Renee Wang sold her home in Bejing for $500,000 to fund her company, CastBox. Two months later, she landed her first investment. Just a half hour after hearing her pitch, she was offered one million dollars. By mid-2017, CastBox raised a total of $16 million in funding. CastBox's user numbers at that point? Seven million. Fast forward to today. Renee Wang of CastBox announces a $13.5 million Series B round of financing, bringing her funding total to a tidy $29 million. CastBox is now serving more than 15 million users.