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POCATELLO, Idaho — A clean toilet seat can mean the difference between happy customers, or flushing money down the toilet.
That is Rob Poleki’s philosophy as he pushes his idea forward for a self-cleaning toilet seat.
On Jan. 11, Poleki went to the first casting call for the 10th season of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and the Bannock County Clerk brought his invention called the Washie, EastIdahoNews.com reports.
The seat is designed similarly to a commercial toilet seat. The user swipes their hand to the right of the seat, and a disinfectant solution is dispensed through holes on the back of the seat. The user can then wipe the seat clean.
“(I spent) multiple hours at night at Home Depot looking for different types of toilet seats, tubing and dispensers. I’ve worked on this thing for the last three years and finally, it’s coming to fruition,” Poleki said.
He can’t speak much about his involvement with the show, but he told EastIdahoNews.com he’ll be leaving office in January 2019 to dedicate more time to his business.
“It’s kind of nerve-racking,” Poleki said. “(When) it comes to entrepreneurship, you have to take the risk to get the gain.”
And that’s exactly what Poleki is doing — taking a risk by moving forward with his invention.
“I’m taking the opportunity of a lifetime which won’t allow me to run for public office. Clearly, I’m just risking everything, putting everything on the line, to take this chance,” Poleki said.
Poleki said he came up with the idea a few years ago while taking his young son to the restroom at an airport.
“He opened the stall and before he sat down on a disgusting toilet seat, I grabbed him and there were no paper toilet seat covers. He wouldn’t sit on one anyway,” Poleki said.
So he grabbed toilet paper and dispensed soap to clean the toilet.
“That’s where I came up with the idea,” Poleki said. “Since that time, I made several prototypes.”
Since beginning his invention, Poleki has worked with an attorney to patent his product. That patent is toward the end of its processing.
“I’ve always been someone thinking of new ways to fix things,” Poleki said.
Each Washie costs less than $40, a “much cheaper” alternative to other options, he said.
Multiple businesses have reached out to Poleki interested in the product, including a Sonic franchise owner. Individuals have also asked about installing the invention in their homes.
Poleki said the seat is only available commercially beginning with gas stations, hotels, and casinos and then maybe hospitals.