Launched at CES 2024, the Flush app is looking to improve public restroom access in urban areas. Created by USC computer science graduate Elle Szabo, Flush offers a unique solution to the often overlooked problem of finding clean and accessible restrooms in busy city environments. The platform allows businesses like cafes, restaurants, and hotels to rent out their bathrooms to the public, creating a new revenue stream while providing a much-needed service.
The Genesis of Flush
The idea for Flush was born out of Szabo’s personal challenges finding public restrooms. Living in a city and dealing with the side effects of diuretic medication, Szabo often found herself in desperate need of a restroom with no public options available. This led to the development of Flush, a web-based app that connects users with available restrooms in their vicinity.
How Flush Works
Flush operates as a double-sided marketplace. Business owners can list their restrooms on the app, setting a price up to a maximum of $10. Users can then browse the app to find and book these facilities. To ensure quality and cleanliness, Flush incorporates a rating system, allowing users to review their experiences. This feature encourages businesses to maintain high standards, as better ratings can lead to more renters and increased profits.
The Business Model and Impact
Flush presents a win-win situation for both businesses and consumers. For businesses, especially those in high-traffic areas, Flush offers an additional revenue stream without significant overhead costs. It also serves as a unique marketing tool, attracting new customers who might not have otherwise visited the establishment. For consumers, Flush provides access to clean, reliable restrooms, a commodity that can be scarce in bustling urban centers.
Potential Challenges and Criticisms
Despite its innovative approach, Flush has faced some skepticism. Critics question whether people are willing to pay for bathroom access, a service traditionally offered for free. There are also concerns about the impact on vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, who may not be able to afford the fee. Additionally, the logistics of managing restroom access and ensuring fair use remain challenges that Flush will need to address as it expands.
The startups are at it again pic.twitter.com/MtyPVRRkOH
— Morning Brew ☕️ (@MorningBrew) January 12, 2024
The Future of Flush
Flush is currently bootstrapped and in the process of signing up businesses and securing investors. With plans to hire an employee and expand its reach, Flush is poised to make a significant impact in the way cities handle public restroom access. Its success could pave the way for similar solutions in other urban infrastructure challenges, redefining how we think about public amenities in our cities.