Rethinking how we shower each day and wash our clothes takes a pretty huge leap of imagination.
But that is exactly what Joanna Power and Paramveer Bhachu did when they designed the Lava Aqua X – a portable electric washing machine that collects water as a person showers then reuses it to wash clothes.
Their ingenious product was crowned the winner of Red Bull Basement in 2020, after they presented it to industry experts and explained their vision for how it could save water and money, and one day sit in every student shower cubicle.
Since then, Bhachu and Power have completed their design degrees at Brunel University, and they are now engaged in six months of intensive research and development for Lava Aqua X.
“At the moment we are doing a lot of user interviews and trying to get perspectives from people,” said Power.
“We obviously have ideas on things like pricing and where it might be manufactured, but they will change and shift as we go through the development process,” said Bhachu.
“We are hoping to have it ready by the time students start their new term in 2022,” he added.
Red Bull Basement gave them resources, mentoring and expert advice on how to develop the Lava Aqua X, the pair said. It was an incredible experience for two tech entrepreneurs setting out on their careers.
Red Bull Basement also introduced them to Red Bull’s free Wingfinder personality assessment, which reveals an individual’s strengths in the areas of creativity, thinking, drive and connections. Wingfinder provides pointers on how to fulfil your potential and use your talents in your professional life.
Wingfinder has been really great for understanding who should be doing what
“During Red Bull Basement there was a session where we did Wingfinder, where we went through our strengths and what we bring to the table. Wingfinder proved that we (Joanna and I) work well together based on our qualities, which had been happening without us realising why,” said Bhachu.
Wingfinder highlighted that Power is a blue sky and autonomous thinker, but also a hands-on learner. When Bhachu completed the free Wingfinder assessment, it concluded he is pragmatic, disciplined and an analytical thinker. “It was very useful to see we have complementary strengths,” he said.
Power’s strengths are now helping her adapt the product to the market and Bhachu’s pragmatism is helping them conduct the necessary research.
“Where we are now with the product, a lot of things are changing and we are making a lot of decisions, so the idea of being open is really effective… The blue sky thinking is really important. Because otherwise if you were really fixed on how your product should be, this whole process might be upsetting,” said Power.
It was very useful to see we have complementary strengths
The idea and design of Lava Aqua X, which has a platform that sits in a shower cubicle and collects up to 8 litres of water, came from Power. The platform can be attached to a small washing machine, which filters and uses the water to wash a load of clothes in as little as 12 minutes.
“We had heard about how much shower water students use and I thought, ‘I would like to address that,’” she said.
“Some products are all about saving water and are user-blaming – for example shower heads that reduce the amount of water you use or timers that tell you when to get out of the shower – yet every student we spoke to told us their shower experience was relaxing and they look forward to it, so we didn’t want to take that away from them!”
Power then thought about how to use that extra water and what students lacked in their dormitories, namely washing machines.
Bhachu and Power recommend all students take Wingfinder to see what kind of personality they have and what kind of roles they would enjoy.
“Wingfinder has been really great for understanding who should be doing what based on their strengths,” said Power.