March 8, 2012 · Behind The Scenes, Success Stories

Campaign Profiles: Interview with Ashley from The Scrubba Wash Bag


Tell us about your Eureke moment to design this wash bag and why crowdfunding became the only way to support the manufacturing of this idea.

It came about two years ago. A mate (and now co-inventor) and I were walking between pubs after work on a Friday night.  We were discussing the fact that as we were packing a lot of gear to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, we would only be able to take a few changes of casual clothes. This meant that we would need to wash our clothes every couple of days. Travellers often block a sink to soak their clothes in it. However, we were concerned about the availability of sinks in Africa for soaking clothes for the time required and also their cleanliness.  We concluded that there had to be a better way and threw around the idea that a large ziploc bag could provide a alternative to using sinks for soaking clothes. However, this would still not improve the efficiency or efficacy of washing clothes while travelling.  

Then I had a revelation – what if we could put a flexible washboard in a sealable bag? Prototyping and testing commenced with additional features being added over time to further improve the washing efficiency (e.g. a valve to expel air and a grip surface backing the washboard to prevent sliding when in use). We also tested different materials to find the lightest waterproof material that didn’t compromise the durability of the bag.   Our prototypes have held to up months of testing abroad and production is about to commence.

Crowdfunding has been important for me not only for raising funds to cover some of the development and production costs, but also for testing the market and creating product awareness.  Just over a month intothe campaign and I have had over 1200 visitors! People are also mentioning the Scrubba washbag in their blogs and travel forums, further increasing my product’s exposure. IndieGoGo also provided the ability for me to stage my campaign from Australia, which several other crowdfunding sites do not allow.

Talk us through the design and development process for the bag and how you came to decide on this final design

We decided to design the bag in a similar fashion to conventional lightweight dry bags as many travelers use them and are accustomed to how they work. From the outside, the Scrubba washbag does in fact look like a dry bag and, when it isn’t being used to wash clothes, it can indeed be used as a dry bag to protect travelers’ goods from moisture.  While our initial prototypes worked well, we have spend a significant amount of time improving the flexible washboard, as this is the heart and soul of the Scrubba wash bag.  We have made it lighter, more flexible, more aesthetic and more efficient. We think that travelers will be extremely happy with it.

Share some of your most memorable moments whilst traveling and using the Scrubba Was Bag.

One of my most memorable moments using the Scrubba wash bag was in Tanzania.  The first prototype wasn’t constructed until the night before leaving Australia. In theory it should work but I didn’t have a chance to test it as my nights in the lead up to the trip were spent writing thepatent application so it could be filed before we left.  The moment I tipped the water out of the Scrubba wash bag from our first load in Tanzania and saw how murky it had become, I knew we were onto something good.  

The other was on my recent travels to South East Asia. We were walking through a village of coffee farmers in Laos and we saw a man trying to wash a pair of jeans with washing powder and a brush.  With our guide translating for us, we demonstrated how theScrubba wash bag worked and watched as he proceeded to clean his jeans with it. He was impressed with the Scrubba wash bag and delighted when we gave it to him.  I would love to travel back there and see if he is still using it.

What is the roll out plan to get this product to market and how do you plan to use social media as a focus in pushing out continued awareness of the wash bag?

I am hoping to have the first batch of 5000 bags manufactured by the end of March and will start fulfilling the IndieGoGo orders as soon as possible. After my IndieGoGo campaign ends, the Scrubba wash bag will be available from my website which is presently being constructed.  In order to make the Scrubba wash bag affordable around the world, I’m planning to also set up distribution in Europe and the USA.  This will reduce shipping costs and shipping time for customers outside Australia.

Social media has been, and will continue to be, one of the main marketing driving forces. Once my website is online, I plan to develop Scrubba community pages, where travelers can provide their feedback on the Scrubba wash bag as well as submit videos and photos of how the Scrubba wash bag has allowed them to travel clean, light and free. Word of mouth will also be a major factor as my experiences are that travelers are quick to share traveling tricks and tips with other travelers. 

Where in the world could you not use the Scrubba Wash Bag?

It is highly efficient in hostels and hotels but really it can be used anywhere as long as you have access to some water. On my recent trip to South East Asia, where I undertook a challenge to travel to at least 3 countries in 3 weeks with less than 3 kg of luggage (including a backpack and clothes on my bag), we used the Scrubba wash bag to wash our clothes on a busy sidewalk in Saigon, on an overnight bus , on a boat, and even on a plane – read more on our travel blog for our South East Asia challenge.  I’ll be interested to see where purchasers of the Scrubba wash bags will use them.