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There is a lot to learn when starting a new business, and the process doesn't really come with a clear instruction manual. Sometimes, all you can do is walk into a hardware store, look at the certification marks on a product similar to yours, and say, "Hey. We will probably need these marks at some point."
At least, that's been the experience for 22-year-old Cash Walcome. The 2010 Port Townsend High School graduate studied sales and political economics at the University of Washington and, during his junior year, co-founded a business with his Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity brother Kamil Slusarski. Another Phi Kappa Sigma member, Shawn Tramble, became the third partner.
"I think I've learned more this past year than in all of college," Walcome said.
The product? The Aquor House Hydrant, a faucet that lies flush with a building's exterior wall and promises to solve "all the pesky issues of leaky faucets, frozen pipes, along with the constant hassle of threading off and on your garden hose."
The inspiration came from two places: Cash's own frustration when using leaky hoses at his fraternity house; and a similar product his dad, Richard Walcome, created and patented to replace spigots on boat decks.
With the help of an engineer and a "family-owned and -operated factory" in China, Walcome said, Aquor Water Systems modified the original marine design for home use. The House Hydrant can be installed by any plumber or, depending on the house and existing plumbing, a mechanically inclined homeowner, Walcome said. Those who don't want to replace their existing faucet, or just want to make a garden spigot easier to use, can use the hose adapter, he added.
"People really value time and ease of use," Walcome said, "and that's our product in a nutshell."
Aquor also aims to create the most efficient product possible, he said, citing data that says up to 60 percent of wasted water worldwide is lost because of leaky pipes.
"With our product, you're not going to have a leaky faucet," Walcome said.
None of the three had an engineering background prior to Aquor's formation, but Slusarski, who studied psychology and business, said, "You can pick up anything if it's interesting."
"I've learned so much about polymers and plastics," he added.
Aquor has already won the 2015 International Builders Show title of “Best of Outdoor Living Products” and came closer than most to making it on the reality television show “Shark Tank” – Walcome and Slusarski were told to audition again next season.
Taking the product to trade shows in Las Vegas has been one of the biggest learning experiences, Walcome said.
"We're always the youngest guys at these trade shows," Walcome said. "[Normally] big-time CEOs wouldn't give us the time of day, but our product is unique and catches people's attention."
Right now, Walcome and his partners are working on getting those certification marks from the American Society of Safety Engineers so they can sell Aquor in big-box retail stores such as Lowe’s or the Home Depot.
They're also in the final days of a Kickstarter campaign to raise $35,000. As of noon Tuesday, June 16, the campaign had 143 backers pledging $24,049.
Money raised from Kickstarter is to be used for point-of-purchase displays with a video and "cool setup," Walcome said. "I think people will be grabbed by that."
"Once we get Kickstarter off the ground, we'll make a lot of accessory products, garden hoses, nozzles," he added, "trying to make those as efficient as possible."
Walcome and his partners have big goals for their company.
After the Kickstarter campaign, which ends June 22, they plan to "hit up" Wolseley, the world's largest heating and plumbing distributor.
"Hopefully, we'll become the new standard for outdoor faucets," Slusarski said.