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MBA Dropout Disrupts Car Wash Industry with 100% Waterless Solution

Go Waterless is a 100% waterless doorstep car cleaning service, driven by a social cause to save water. It employs herbal products and waterless solutions instead of hard water and cheap detergent used in a typical car wash business.

By Rashaad Ather
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Nitin Sharma - Founder At GoWaterless

Nitin Sharma - Founder At Go Waterless

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The Genesis of the Idea

Traditional car wash in India is a hobby for some, a leisure activity for others, and a job opportunity for the poor. A typical morning wash uses gallons of hard water, cheap detergent, and excessive water pressure. In other words, it’s a massively neglected activity.

But let’s be honest, who doesn’t like the sweet scent of soap lingering in the air as a car washes?

But let’s not kid ourselves either. It wastes water at the rate of gazillions per minute. 

In fact, studies suggest that car wash is a hidden culprit in the Indian water crisis. Last month, the Uttarakhand government banned car washing in 6 cities. In April, there were reports of Bengaluru-based car wash companies agonising over the ban on water-based vehicle care due to the city’s water crisis.

What if I told you there’s an alternative to this water-draining car wash?

Meet Nitin Sharma, the founder of GoWaterless, who has a remarkable solution to the problem. Yes, it’s called ‘waterless’ car wash. 

Nitin Sharm - Founder & CEO Go Waterless

Nitin's story begins not as a suave corporate guy, but far from it. Nitin is an MBA 2004 dropout who took over his family’s Pune-based car wash business. 

"It was a happy place," Nitin reminisces, as he narrates his startup journey exclusively to Startup Pedia, "filled with the sounds of satisfied customers and the odour of freshly cleaned cars." 

But by 2016, groundwater hit rock bottom, and wells dried up; about a time when India grappled with a severe water crisis. 

"Water tankers offered a temporary solution, but it wasn't sustainable. We had to find a way to wash cars without a single drop of water”, Nitin explains to Startup Pedia.

This seemingly impossible challenge became the seed of an idea. One sleepless night, inspired by a news report about water woes, Nitin remembered hearing about a waterless car wash product from his US-based uncle. 

However, it left scratches and damaged car paint. "That's when it hit me," Nitin exclaims, "I wouldn't just copy; I would create something better, something that cleaned effectively without harming the car."

Eureka Moment

Driven by this newfound purpose, Nitin assembled a dream team in 2017. 

"We had chemists, physicists, and car paint specialists," he told Startup Pedia, "all brought together by the possibility of a waterless car wash that actually worked!" 

The journey wasn't easy. He invested ₹10 lac and all his wife’s savings for a grilling two years of tireless research and testing.

"There were moments of frustration," Nitin admits to Startup Pedia, "but the thought of all that water saved kept us going."

Finally, the eureka moment arrived in 2019! 

Their creation was a magical potion – a blend of organic extracts from five different plants. Each extract played a specific role – cleaning, protecting the car's delicate paint, and even guarding against harmful UV rays. 

This eco-friendly solution cleans cars faster and better than water ever could!

Go Waterless Founder

Zero to 1 Journey

Now, the real challenge began. People needed convincing not just about the benefits and effectiveness of his innovation but more so, the possibility of it.

"Water is ingrained in the very idea of car washing," Nitin explains. "People were sceptical. How could a car wash possibly work without water?"

Even today, Nitin believes that his eco-friendly waterless wash care is 3-5 years ahead of the market. And thus, dedicates marketing to customer awareness.

Back in 2019, he projected the same longer vision and decided to start small. 

He trained three people and offered waterless car washes at a discounted price. He even offered a guarantee, promising to fix any damage caused by his new method. 

Slowly, car owners began to trust him. They saw the sparkling shine, the gentle touch on their paint, and most importantly, the tremendous water savings – a staggering 12 lakh litres every single day!

A Nationwide Movement

News of GoWaterless spread like wildfire. 

Soon, Nitin was getting requests from people wanting to experience the waterless miracle. 

He even recalled instances when he used to clean pigeon-pooped cars of his customers all by himself. 

Soon, Nitin expanded his reach through franchises, empowering others to join his mission. 

Today, over 200 GoWaterless franchises in 22 states in India, each one saving precious water and offering a convenient doorstep service.

"It's not just about clean cars," Nitin emphasises, "it's about building a community of water conservators. Every franchise owner is an ambassador for water conservation. They educate their customers about the environmental impact of traditional car washes and the benefits of our waterless solution."

GoWaterless is now offering Clean & Protect Spray bottles at Rs 499 each for direct purchase from its website, e-commerce platforms and retail stores. This initiative aims to provide customers with eco-friendly spray bottles to simplify car wash and contribute to water conservation.

Go Waterless Product

The Indian Oil Chapter

In a major validation of GoWaterless' innovation, Indian Oil Corporation, India's largest fuel retailer, is expected to partner up with the company. 

"This partnership is a huge boost for us," Nitin says, his voice filled with pride. "It shows that established players in the industry recognize the value of our waterless solution." 

The partnership allows GoWaterless to set up kiosks at Indian Oil petrol pumps, offering their services to a wider customer base.

Challenges Faced

Despite the success, Nitin acknowledges the challenges GoWaterless has faced. "Overcoming public scepticism was our initial hurdle, and it still is!" he says. "But with time and education, people are becoming more aware of water scarcity and the need for sustainable solutions."

Another challenge lies in getting the government’s support. 

"Obtaining permits and licenses can be a slow and cumbersome process," Nitin explains to Startup Pedia. "We’re working closely with the government to streamline these processes and make it easier for eco-friendly businesses like ours to thrive."

He added,” We even met with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for GoWaterLess. He assured us of assistance and even got us connected with the Jal Shakti  Ministry.”

Educating the Masses

Public awareness remains a key focus for GoWaterless. "Our innovation is gaining traction," Nitin says, "Although we’re getting significant inquiries from countries like Indonesia, Australia, Pakistan and a few African countries, the demand within India has been underwhelming so far.”

He contemplates, “Perhaps, there's still a significant section of the population unfamiliar with waterless car washes." 

To bridge this gap, GoWaterless is running an awareness campaign through:

  • Social media campaigns: They leverage social media platforms to educate people about water scarcity and the benefits of waterless car washes. Engaging videos and informative posts showcase the effectiveness of their solution.

  • Partnerships with car care brands: Collaborations with car care product companies and car dealerships help them reach a wider audience and spread awareness.

  • Community outreach programs: GoWaterless participates in community events and environmental fairs, educating people about water conservation and offering demonstrations of their waterless car wash process.

Is Unicorn Status a Possibility?

While Nitin refrains from disclosing specific financial figures, Nitin reveals his Pune-based startup has earned over ₹10 crores in revenue since inception. 

Gowaterless’s growth trajectory confirms its success as well. 

With over 200 franchises and a presence in 22 states, the company is experiencing significant revenue. Nitin, however, reaffirms his focus on water conservation and creating a sustainable business model.

"Profitability is important," Nitin says, "but it's not our sole driving force. We want to make waterless car washes accessible and affordable for everyone." Their franchise model allows them to achieve this goal by empowering entrepreneurs across India to join the water-saving revolution.

As for the billion-dollar question (unicorn status), Nitin smiles. "Financial success is a great motivator," he admits, "Our primary goal is to make a positive impact. But after talking to K Navin Charan, the Chief General Manager of Indian Oil Corporation, we believe it’s possible within 2-3 years.”

Nitin proudly adds, “If achieving unicorn status helps us further our water conservation mission, then that's a dream we'd love to chase."

A Global Vision for Waterless Washing

GoWaterless' vision stretches far beyond India's borders. 

"The water crisis is a global issue," Nitin says. "We're actively exploring opportunities to expand our franchise network internationally." 

According to Nitin, western countries are more open to sustainable products as their market is ahead of India’s. He believes the Indian government must support and incentivise startups that solve crucial problems and promote sustainable living.

Final Message

Nitin concludes the interview with a passionate plea: "Water is a precious resource, and we all have a responsibility to conserve it. By choosing GoWaterless, you're not just getting a sparkling clean car; you're contributing to a water-secure future for generations to come.” 

Nitin Sharma's story is an inspiration to all. It adds to the fact that great companies earn incredible wealth and fame only as a result of pursuing a noble dream.