Suffolk inventor taps new market
Published 9:46 pm Friday, November 15, 2019
Steve Waddell believes he has tapped into a new market for an old indoor plumbing implement that hasn’t fundamentally changed its design in many years — and he’s doing it from right here in Suffolk.
In recent weeks, Waddell has cut the ribbon on his North Suffolk office, subleased from his wife’s company, and launched a Kickstarter campaign that has reached 300 percent of its goal — and isn’t over yet.
All this fuss about … a faucet? Yes, the inventor says, and he’s passionate about his product.
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Waddell said he and his wife were planning a trip to Rome several years ago and came across an online video of two girls using one of the nasoni in the Italian capital. The public fountains have a hole in the top of the downspout, allowing thirsty passersby to block the downspout with their hand to make water arc out of the top like a drinking fountain.
Waddell was left wondering, “Why don’t faucets in our homes have that?” He researched and found there was nothing on the market.
So, he decided to create it.
Waddell started raising funding and winning several contests, including one in 2015 called Get Started Hampton Roads. As a former senior project manager at Northrop Grumman in Newport News, he knew how to get things done.
He went through many iterations of the design of the Da Vinci, as it came to be called, before it finally looked and felt right. He concerned himself with every detail — how the handles felt in his hand, the design of the switch that blocks the downspout to active the arc, and even the quality of the interior components.
“We made a quality faucet, but it’s more functional,” he said.
Waddell believes his faucet is useful for all sorts of things. People can use it just to take their pills or get a sip of water at night if they don’t want to go to the kitchen. Some people just don’t like cups, and they can get infested with germs, he noted. The arc can be used for washing off facial products, for shaving and for brushing teeth.
He’s even heard from customers who said it helps them cope with conditions like vertigo, neck pain and back pain.
Best of all, he added, it saves water, because less water comes out of the top in a set period of time than out of the downspout.
“You’re buying it because you like the functionality, and it’s like, ‘Oh, cool, I get a benefit of water savings,’” he said.
So far, there aren’t a whole lot of people that own the Da Vinci; the Kickstarter supporters will be among the first. After that campaign is over, manufacturer’s representatives will begin selling in six states. They’ll sell to plumber wholesalers, to homebuilders, to brick-and-mortar retail and even pitch engineers and architects so they can specify it in plans for clients.
The only place Waddell doesn’t plan on it being is Amazon. That’s so retailers “can give customers that personalized experience,” Waddell said, “and they don’t have to compete with Amazon for window-shopping.”
The Da Vinci is manufactured at a factory in Asia, and it comes in standard and widespread models, each with three finishes. Nasoni also sells an optional water filter.
With boundless enthusiasm about his project and seemingly endless energy, Waddell thinks Nasoni will eventually be a household name.
“It’s not often a product comes along that can disrupt a very mature industry,” he said. “We think we stand a chance of dominating the faucet market right here from Suffolk. And I don’t mean just in the U.S. We’re thinking global.”
Speaking of global, how was that trip to Rome? Well, Waddell and his wife, Becky Reed, who owns Reed Integration, still are hoping to make it there one day.
“We still want to,” he said.
The product’s Kickstarter campaign ends Nov. 21, which is the last day to get the faucets at half price. Visit www.nasoni.com for more information.