With the launch of the world's first smart home soap maker Soapmaker 1.0, Taiwan-based Lessdo raised over NT$1 million (US$33,275) on the first day its crowdfunding campaign went online in May 2019 and later accumulated more than NT$3 million during the funding period.
The Lessdo team has been chosen by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to present its product at the Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA) at CES 2020.
Soapmaker mixes soap in six minutes
Lessdo CEO Jun-Jie Li came up with the idea of developing a soap maker - inspired by a colleague's problem. This colleague had been suffering from chronic skin conditions and spending a fortune buying handmade soap for nine years. He wanted to make his own soap but it was not easy to figure out the correct proportions of ingredients. The process is time-consuming and error-prone. The ingredients are often sold in bulk and do not have a long shelf life. Also, there is no guarantee on the origin and quality of handmade soap on the market. Lessdo was born to address these pain points - a startup now comprising eight people.
Their soap-making machine sticking to the principle of "one-button operation." But being simple is not easy. The ability to simplify the 20-some steps of soap making is the most eye-catching feature of Lessdo's Soapmaker. It is built with a 10,000 rpm motor module, 304 stainless steel stirrer and smart thickness sensor.
"Traditional soap making by hand is time-consuming. The process relies on the person's experience and feel. The tools they use may not comply with fluid mechanics design principles and may fail to achieve uniform mixing. With LESSDO's soap maker, it only takes six minutes to mix the soap batter," noted Shih-Chang Chang, a member of the startup.
Chang added, "Making soap is not like cooking. When you make something too salty or too sweet, people can still eat it. Controlling the saponification reaction is at the heart of soap making."
To verify the result of soap mixing by machine, Lessdo has repeatedly invited master soap makers for comparisons. Aside from designing the device, Lessdo additionally offers 54 combinations of ingredient packs, allowing users with no prior soap making experience to get started effortlessly. All they need to do is pour the pre-measured ingredient pack and clay powder into the cup and press the button at the top of Soapmaker. After the mixing step is completed, blend in the provided essence oil, using the stirrer for uniform mixing. Pour the soap batter into the mold. Set it aside for two days. Then, unmold and let it cure for five more days before use.
Soapmaker can produce three bars of 100g soap at a time. Furthermore, making soap into a spherical shape adheres to the "form follows function" principle and can better prevent glycerin rivers compared to making it into a cuboid shape. This is why Lessdo's Soapmaker comes with a spherical mold.
Expanding internationally to create a blue ocean market
Driving smart living forward, Lessdo will continue to optimize Soapmaker's technology and design, said Chang. The next generation product will incorporate Bluetooth communication and smartphone app to allow users to build a soap making database through Bluetooth connection between their smartphone and Soapmaker. In addition to handmade body soap, Lessdo will also develop soap ingredient packs for face, hair, and even home cleaning.
Lessdo's marketing plan for the first half of 2020 will focus on the domestic market. It looks to build up brand image and customer loyalty through self-media and word-of-mouth advertising and thereby increase online repurchase. It will also try to expand into the giveaway market and explore co-branding opportunities to grow brand awareness. For the second half of 2020, following the participation at CES 2020, Lessdo will undertake a round of funding on American crowdfunding platforms such as Indiegogo in hopes of replicating its success in Taiwan.
The long-term goal is to establish presence in the US, Europe, Japan and other international markets.
Photo: Digitimes staff, December 2019