D.C. startup Throne is bringing technology to portable bathrooms around the city.

For founders looking to get their footing, a companion song for their startup probably isn’t in their first-year goals.

But based on DC throne General manager Fletcher Wilson He got his uncle’s luck Bruce Higdon (Backed by music Andy McGuinnessProvided by Track for Toilet Technology Company:

“I only did my app.

It opened up a new world where I hang my hat

A quiet sanctuary, a throne fit for a king

I can’t believe I found a porta potty worth remembering.

Throne was founded by Wilson and COO. Jessica Heinzelman In June 2020, after a lifelong struggle with irritable bowel syndrome, Wilson wanted to create a luxurious, portable bathroom with the help of technology, Heinzelman said. technical.ly.

We put it in some sandwich shops, a park, and on a sidewalk in Charlottesville, Virginia to see: people open the bathroom on their phones, and what will their reaction be? Heinzelman said.

To enter a Throne bathroom, users either need to type in their phone number, which will scan a text and QR code, or they can download the app, which includes a map of the Throne area and real-time cleanliness. Rating users so that they are not surprised by the conditions.

Heinzelman said the biggest problem with many public and private restrooms is the fear that people are going to abuse them. Adding a technology component felt like a good option to the founders, as it allows for tech monitoring and feedback without the need for someone to be physically present in each room. Throne’s sensors and technology can inform the company if a room has been occupied for a long time or needs to be cleaned, as well as how long the rooms have been in use. If someone is abusing it, because it is tied to a phone number, their access may be blocked.

Jessica Heinzelman. (Photo via LinkedIn)

“You don’t have to pay someone to sit there all the time, but you still get the benefit of accountability, and you get the remote ability to say, ‘Hey, something needs attention, something’s not right,'” Heinzelman says. .

The thrones are independent units powered by solar panels on the roof, although there is an option to plug them in if needed. The room has a clean water tank in the wall and a waste tank in the bottom, and also uses gray water for washing hands. Heinzelman said the thrones will be serviced every 100 uses, but the app will notify the company if it needs it sooner.

The thrones currently have steps and require a smartphone to use, but the company is also building thrones for users with disabilities and a way for people who are homeless or unequipped to use them without a phone. Now, Heinzelman says each user can personalize and scan a card similar to a MetroCard to unlock the door.

Currently, businesses and other public entities can rent a throne on a monthly basis, which includes cleaning and maintenance. But Heinzelman said the company is exploring the option of buying a throne or leasing a larger one at a time. So far, the startup has raised seed funding primarily from angel investors and is looking to raise a Series A in mid-2023.

Locally, Throne has placed rooms on Sandlot SE and works with business improvement districts to place Throne at events such as the downtown D.C. Holiday Market, Heinzelman said. The new version contains new updates like skylight, changing table and coat hook, as well as some tweaks to hardware and software like weight sensor. He hopes to add 25 to 50 thrones in the DC area next year.

“Portable sanitation has not been innovated for 50 years or more. That was the basic thing,” said the founder. “Our original vision was to have a network of toilets around the city so you know you can actually find the bathroom wherever you are.”

Sorry, but we’re going to go ahead and say it: That toilet presence is worth singing about.


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