Misty-eyed and bushy-tailed: Meet Hai, the world's smartest shower head

·6 min read

If you had "my shower head needs a small turbine, a Bluetooth connection, an app and a fine-spray mist" on your 2021 bingo card, congratulations, you win the prize. The prize is knowing that Hai exists -- and this fine news story, which will tell you all about how the company raised $6 million to get all up in your biz. And we'll probably have some good, clean fun -- i.e. shower puns -- thrown in for good measure.

A propos good measure, that, in a nutshell, is kind of the point of Hai. The founders claim that your daily de-grimification routine is one of the biggest users of water in a residential context. A lot of people care about the environment, but how do you know how much water you actually blast through on your way to a haven of godliness-adjacency? The answer is some really expensive electronics, or this (possibly equally expensive) $250 shower head. Hai is designed to be easy to install and remove using just your hands. Aimed in particular at apartment-dwellers who want "a spa-like shower experience" that they can take with them as they nomad their way from apartment to apartment, the Hai shower head is somewhat of a platform.

"During my 20s I moved to a new apartment every year. One of the things that I looked at every time I moved was the shower. I'm quite tall, and it was very important for me to have a shower that was tall enough -- and the pressure was obviously important," Leah Stigile, co-founder and CEO of Hai reminisced. "I'm a mom to two small children, and the time that I get in the shower every day is crucially important to my personal well-being. As I talked to other people, I realized the ritual of showering is super important to other people as well, but for a whole variety of different reasons. I was inspired to be a part of building a company that delivered an amazing experience but also helps you be mindful of the resources that you're using."

It appears that a gaggle of investors agree with the Hai team that this is a space worth exploring in more depth. Trousdale Ventures led the $6 million round, and is joined by Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, A-Rod Corp, The Najafi Companies (owners of the Phoenix Suns and McLaren F1), Amity Supply (Jesse Derris), social media stars Josh Richards and Griffin Johnson, Noah Beck’s Animal Capital (Marshall Sandman), former board member and early investor in Peloton, Howard Draft and Local Globe.

"We invested in Hai because they have created an innovative, high-quality showerhead that meets consumer demand for sustainable home products," said Phillip Sarofim, founder of Trousdale Ventures. "We believe that Hai delivers the best shower experience as consumers continue to shift toward personalized and environmentally conscious products."

"You are looking at a $9 billion market. In my calculation when you look at the size of the space, there's room for five or six big new entrants in this market. The interesting thing is that the $9 billion has been carved out by the same five companies for the last 75 years. What is interesting is that brand was almost irrelevant in the space," explains Leonard Brody, co-founder of Hai. "More than 85% of millennials said the shower was the most important self-care ritual in their home, but the vast majority of them couldn't tell you the brand of shower head they stood under every day. That is highly unusual in a consumer space. I bet you 60% of the same people could tell you what toilet paper brand they use."

Hai's shower head was super easy to install -- taking the old shower head off took longer than installing the new one. Best of all: No leaks and no tools required. Photo by Haje Kamps for TechCrunch

So, with a huge market and no clear winner, we've seen a number of new companies enter the fray. It seems like the newest dribble of companies started with Kickstarter darling Nebia pre-selling $3 million of fine-misting shower heads back in 2015, before raising investment from, and later getting swallowed up by, bathroom giant Moen.

"One of the largest wastes of water in the shower is actually when you flip on the water and you wander away and are busy while you're waiting for it to warm. The shower is running and before you know it you've done three loads of laundry. We've developed a little hydropower Bluetooth turbine and it does a couple of things. First of all, it powers the LED light on the shower that will notify you when the water is warm and ready to get in. Also, if you've wandered away, it'll send you a push notification to your phone," explains Brody. "Secondly, with a partner app that we developed, it will you can set the number of gallons of water that you want to use during your shower. The average shower is about 20 gallons of water. You can configure that, of course, but our product default is set to 20 gallons. When you hit that limit, a little light will notify you, reminding you to wrap up and hop out of the shower."

The device tracks your water consumption over time, which takes care of one of the first challenges of awareness; namely, awareness. The company suggests that by measuring your baseline and then setting goals for yourself, you can do your bit for the environment and use a bit less water. The company also wants to use the data it gathers to make the shower experience more custom.

"The next step on the roadmap for us that's coming in early 2022, we are taking our product and adding a layer of consumables. First up, we have what we're calling infusions. We've developed a single-use no-waste pill that can be added to a capsule that fits onto the existing showerhead," explains Stigile. "You can infuse aromatherapy or hair and skin treatments directly into the water. That really helps deliver that spa experience that we are trying to create in your home bathroom. And then the next step beyond that is filtration. With the sensors we have, we can actually be quite sophisticated about telling you what's in your water delivering, a very personalized experience. We can even take the temperature you like to shower at into consideration and recommend the consumables that are best for your particular use case. That's a huge opportunity there for us."

The company only started shipping its products a few weeks ago, but so far they're off to a lather good start, with promising sales through its direct channels and retail presence on the Bed Bath & Beyond website and its New York flagship store.

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