Automated self-cleaning toilets connected with a computer network was the concept discussed during that time. Later, it was proposed to Kerala PWD department at a time, when they were searching for a better alternative to then electronic toilets (main competitor to IPToilet) to be installed throughout Kerala. It had already given some technology solutions to the department and PWD Electronics department had accepted the design to be co-developed as the self-cleaning toilets for Kerala. The department demanded exclusive right for Kerala to support the venture during the early stage, which Altersoft accepted. These public toilets were designed to be installed at public places i.e. locations that are mostly held by Government departments and local bodies. As the product was being co-developed with the Electronics Department, the start-up company got support from the department. Altersoft installed 17 toilets with the help of department.
Altersoft has developed a team of scientists under Dr. Mohankumar (Co-founder) to do research and innovation in the field of further development of public toilets. It took three years to get a location to install the first unit. Most of the public locations were public places, where a private company is not allowed to do research and product development even if its usage is offered for free to public.
Altersoft acquired knowledge in the field of portable smart public toilets by installing and doing corrections, while addressing each issue. Most of the components, readily available in the market are not standard or not suitable for Altersoft’s concept of vandal proof toilet design. So they invented or altered these small products which are used as components inside the toilets. They redesigned sensor water tap, door lock, napkin vending machine, motor pump, UPS, LED light, exhaust fan, etc., which were used inside IPtoilet to match with the idea of vandal proof system and public safety. This process of small innovations continues to achieve other goals. We are now innovating for further reducing the water consumption, power usage, enabling solar powering etc. which are not easy to replicate by any competitor
These public toilets were designed to be installed at public places i.e. locations that are mostly held by Government departments and local bodies. As the product was being co-developed with the Electronics Department, the start-up company got support from the department.
The competitor for this product (e-toilet) is using a different technology for the same solution. They are the forerunner for this product. Altersoft never thought of selling a toilet at a cost of 10 lakhs per unit. The competitor priced it at Rs.6 to 8 lakhs. Altersoft knew that its product is a far superior. This gave them confidence to explore other Indian states. While Altersoft offered stainless steel toilets, the competitors were doing it with mild steel powder coated body. The competitor was using an awkward looking automated gate type door-entry which used to get struck, while people were using it. Their prefabricated toilet size was very small and people would not like to use it.
This made the company alert towards such external threats and thus Altersoft made sure that they apply for patent, copyright, trademark, etc. for all their innovations. Altersoft took more care then onwards with respect to the business and this increased the maturity and professionalism within the organization, which in turn increased the risk awareness of its people.
Even though, the competitor is the market leader with more than 3000 such toilet installations within a short period of time, Altersoft hopes to achieve and overcome this figure with the help of the partnership with Tata Nestin.
Replication of Altersoft’s design is very difficult and coming out with similar solutions will take time for newcomers in the market. Altersoft has got Indian patent for their innovation and took copyright for their unique design. The product had undergone lot of field testing after installation at various stages of its development. Altersoft is also researching on developing a kit to supply automated personalised toilet kits for consumer market intending to offices, schools and similar semi-public. This is expected to be made available to the public by year 2022. A clear vision – a self-cleaning toilet kit for personal usage, which can be installed by any local plumber to control personal toilets by ones’ mobile phones. In a matter of time, Government world-over would make it a building standard to include such self-cleaning, water-usage-monitored toilets to give sanctions for future houses, so that usage of water within communities are limited, assessed and monitored.
Altersoft is thus highly optimistic about the future of the product and this business.