"I want to be as ubiquitous as toilet paper," Rob Bobinski recently told me. He's not talking about himself — he's talking about YouGoGirl, an in-toilet product he invented for women who are afraid of others smelling their poop.
We admit we bristled when first alerted to the product, which is sold, among other places, at Skymall. Wasn't it promoting the notion that shit is only embarrassing when it comes out of women?
When I talked to Bobinski, though, he said the product had started out gender-neutral but had been repackaged for women because they were the ones who had shown overwhelming interest in it in early testing.
"You can't say men enjoy the smell, but they're kind of proud of it," he said of their sample group, which was mostly word-of-mouth. "Women aren't. It makes sense to go after the people who are most interested...The thought was never to stigmatize anyone."
Still, enough men want it that the company will be introducing GottaGo (for any gender, different scent) and KidsGottaGo (in response to women wanting it for potty training, apparently.) Other key demographics, he said, were people suffering from gastrointestinal problems and seniors embarrassed about bedpan usage.
Bobinski's initial concern wasn't smell, but the "plume" or microbes thrown into the air from the toilet swirl. (Closing the lid also helps.) But in experimenting with mitigating the overall splash with a phosphate-free, biodegradable solution, he discovered it had an impact on smell.
Now he's gotten interested in the enormous number of people in the developing world who don't have access to flushable toilets at all, and wants to get involved. "Mahatma Gandhi said sanitation is more important than liberation," he said excitedly. (Almost.)
You Go Girl [Official Site]