This US startup teaches the West how to use Indian toilet

As Americans take a leaf from the Indian style of squatting on toilets, there are some like Utah-based Squatty Potty that have figured out a formula to turn this inherent knowledge into a million-dollar venture.

This US startup teaches the West how to use Indian toilet

“This product was a lifesaver for me, and I just wanted to share that with as many people as I could,” Judy Edwards said in a press release dated 13 May 2020. Judy Edwards’ constipation led to the start of a $175 million venture — Squatty Potty. But Judy, who has come to be known as ‘Mama Squatty’ among her fans in the US, did not imagine her ‘new’ product's potency.

The US-based firm soon shipped 2,000 stools to China, and the company clocked $1 million in sales in the first year. Founded in 2011, the company sold 4 million units in the US alone in May 2017 and 5 million stools globally by May 2020. One wonders if such evangelists of the squat-on-the-pot movement know how old and Indian their ‘million-dollar’ venture really is.

“They had a very well developed technology when it came to sitting toilets. They were present in every house and were connected to an underground drainage system that took the waste outside the residential area,” says Manoj Kumar, museum curator at the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets.

But the mysterious end of this civilization, Manoj says, is what paved the way for a new age in India that lasted from approximately 500 CE to 1500 CE. In this age, open defecation ushered in the first ‘squat toilet’ or ‘Indian-style toilet’ invention.

“The Indus Valley Civilization was a permanent settlement, but the Aryans were nomads for a very long time. So, for their daily call of nature, they’d squat in a field, river, or a stream. This open defecation continued for at least 1,000 years,” Manoj says, adding, “When the Aryans learned the need for toilets, the natural position in which one sits down to evacuate their bowels became a design for the Indian toilets.”