ReBrush was a toothbrush like never before that featured replaceable heads with a patent-pending attachment mechanism. The gorgeous, durable handles were made from anodized aluminum and sustainably-sourced hardwood. This was a concept product developed during our participation in the MassChallenge startup accelerator. The product generated a lot of attention with feature articles in TechCrunch and the Boston Globe.
Our inspiration for ReBrush was simple: over 50 million pounds of non-recyclable toothbrushes end up in US landfills every year. By using a ReBrush and replacing only the used portion of the toothbrush every three months, we estimated a reduction in personal toothbrush waste by up to 80% over two years. We were also excited about introducing a refined aesthetic and a set of rich materials that had never before been used in this product category. We believe that changing people’s relationship to something as simple as a toothbrush can pave the way for deeper understanding about personal environmental footprints.
What we learned
Neither of us knew much about dental hygiene going into this project but, in true LittleBonsai style, we researched, met with experts and tested ideas to the point where we became well-versed on the subject after about six months. ReBrush also taught us a lot about how to compete in a market of utility/commodity consumer products. Through extensive user research, we understood that hierarchy of needs for a toothbrush is very simple: first and foremost, it needs to clean your teeth well! Trying to demonstrate that ReBrush was as good at cleaning your teeth as a regular toothbrush would be as important as driving the environmental and design lifestyle values in our pitch for the product. We developed ReBrush over the course of six months to the point of manufacturing-ready prototype/production drawings and a fully developed brand for the product. We have been in discussion with a few companies who may be interested in commercializing the idea.
What we will remember
We will never forget our “hustle” to get publicity for ReBrush. This involved multiple experiences of chasing down reporters on the phone, by email and on foot. In one case, we found out from a simple tweet that a reporter we were targeting would be in town for only a few hours. After contacting him through every means of communication known to man, we raced across the city and eventually tracked him down for a drink in his hotel lobby. We received a feature article the just a few days later!