Wudu is the brainchild and property of Bahraini Cancer survivor, Inventor, and Businessman Hamed Fakhro. It was launched to help Muslims all around the world, have a safer ‘Wudu’. startupBahrain is glad to bring you the full story of this simple yet brilliant invention.
When the idea came to me it was simple. A washbasin with a lower basin attached that could be used to wash the feet. As I pondered the idea and flipped it around in my head, I kept wondering why nobody had done it before. Five years later, I know why. It’s a product desperately needed by many people who must wash their feet thoroughly and safely (five times a day) before prayer, not to mention children washing their hands safely as well.
I researched it and discovered that nobody had invented such a thing before. This should be easy I thought, as I munched on my turkey sandwich and kept digging.
Piece of cake
To visualize my idea, I took a piece of styrofoam and started carving. As the square piece began morphing into a legible shape I got increasingly excited. When I was done, I fitted some taps (mixers) and drain holes to see how it would look and feel. It actually looked half decent. “This might work!” I exclaimed happily.
Roadblocks, money pits, and stop signs
First off, finding a patent lawyer was a nightmare. After finding the best in the Middle East, it took a year (and a nice chunk of my bank account) till we submitted the drawings and patent applications.
Then I targeted a manufacturer. Of course, it had to be the biggest and best in the world. After having to break their door down for an appointment, they met me for lunch and politely said that my idea was technically impossible to create and I needn’t waste my time anymore.
As I left the factory they tried to sell me a container or two of their new plate product. My wings were broken.
Calling all units: Backup needed
After being battered and bruised by the real world, I knew I needed backup. Who better than my good old friend Mr. Mohammed Almoayyed: An innovator, and Vice Chairman of YK Almoayyed. As we ate breakfast in his villa overlooking his soccer pitch, the smell of freshly cut grass and optimism filled the air.
As soon as Mohammed saw the idea he loved it. He picked up the phone and barked his orders.
The next week his GM and I headed to their ceramic manufacturer in Oman (Oman Ceramics) who greeted me with a red carpet, and together we designed the first version of Wudu. It was an automatic partnership and we easily agreed; YK Almoayyed would be my exclusive distributors.
Will it work?
Here I was with the first prototype, and it was time to test it. Would it be all I thought it could be?
As the plumbing crew of six crowded into a guest bathroom in my villa, we inspected and studied the plumbing and drainage. Yes, I thought; this is simple. We don’t need to rebuild anything!
Just a few simple modifications to the pipes, a few cuts, and that’s it! But will it really work? Will it support my weight? Will it be easy on my back? Will it save water? I put my foot in, took a deep breath, and pulled on the mixer. A clean cool steady stream of water gushed onto
my foot confirming the dream that
started five years ago. Wudu was born.
Bring it to market but first, survive cancer
Now all I had to do was bring it to market. I had a Bahrain distributor, but I needed one in Saudi Arabia as well. So I met with the largest manufacturer in Saudi Arabia and got a verbal agreement to start on 10,000 units. I also met with the Sunni Endowment directorate in Bahrain who loved it and decided to start changing all the mosques in Bahrain.
One moment I was soaring, the next moment: Splat. I was diagnosed with 4th stage Lymphoma (cancer). Oh great, now it’s time to fight for my life. When I staggered out of bed a year later, the dream of Wudu was dusty, all the people I knew changed already, and I was all but forgotten.
I struggled at first but then got the interest of a few organizations who immediately ordered several test units. I am also working now on officially launching it at the GULF BID on the 7th to 9th of May at the Bahrain International Exhibition Center. So here I am. Re-launch Wudu. Take II.