Over the years, the investors on the BBC hit TV show “Dragon’s Den” have passed on business ideas that have turned out to become huge successes on their own. SpaTap is an example of such an invention. The Australian start-up owned by Brit Stuart Mason produces portable taps and shower devices that are inherently water efficient.
When Mason appeared on the show in August 2015, his rejection definitely made for good TV, he says. “Of course a Dragon presentation is nerve-wracking and it made good television to include the worst bits of my hour-long pitch but so many people who saw it have recognised the real virtues of SpaTap,” says Mason. Since, the enquiries have been pouring in.
“You can’t blame the Dragons,” he adds. “They’ve probably never had to use dirty water and deal with unhygienic conditions like over 2 billion people in the world do. Our mission is to make sure that everyone that needs a tap will have a SpaTap, no matter where they live, as we believe having access to water is a human right.”
SpaTap is a simple, pocket-sized silicon cap that fits on any water bottle or water carrier to provide a flow-controllable on-off tap or continuous shower. It is often used in many outdoor situations, from camping and festivals to defence encampments. In terms of its social impact, SpaTap is also used in disaster zones, refugee camps, rural developing communities where both water and hygiene are in short supply.
“The truth is, millions of people share taps with hundreds of other people and often these taps are the source of contamination, responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 children everyday. That is more than AIDs, malaria, and measles combined! And yet, something as simple as hand washing with clean flowing water could reduce these fatalities by half. That’s a thousand lives saved every day.”
SpaTap is made entirely from antimicrobial food-grade and water-grade silicon, and is cheap enough for communities to own one per person, bringing an end to situations where entire communities share one cross-contaminating water outlet such as a well, a bucket or a standpipe, Mason explains. “And where it is necessary for people to share a SpaTap, a very simple routine maintains hygiene.”
A child in St Prisca School using SpaTap
SpaTaps have been distributed for disaster relief in Nepal, Vanuatu and across Africa with great success. In 2015, SpaTap beat 470 entries from around the world to win Standard Bank’s prestigious Water4Africa award.
Today, SpaTap won the Australian Government’s Humanitarian Supplies Challenge, an initiative to take the best ideas from the private sector to improve the way in which Australia helps people in need. Thirteen winning products have been selected that address three common challenges faced in the immediate aftermath of a humanitarian crisis: water, energy and shelter.
SpaTap was selected as a winner for its innovative water dispensing technology. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the government body responsible for leading Australia’s response to international humanitarian crises, will now work with winners to secure appropriate amounts of each product to complement their existing mix of humanitarian emergency relief supplies that are stored in warehouses in Brisbane and Sydney for deployment in response to regional emergencies.