Remember Project Drop-A-Brick, the water conservation-minded San Francisco startup that relied on scatological humor — “Let’s start a big bowl movement together” — to bring the “most technologically advanced toilet brick ever designed” to market via an Indiegogo campaign?

Well, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that the November 2014 campaign completely tanked, but Project Drop-A-Brick’s new spin on an old school life hack did fall short of its not entirely unreasonable $8,000 crowdfunding goal.

So what went wrong?

Was the $15 price tag for a hydrogel powder-filled rubber thingamabob capable of saving roughly a half-gallon of water per flush too steep for thrifty consumers content with plopping 1-litter ginger ale bottles filled with sand into their toilet tanks?

Was the promo video in which a young girl proudly declares that “the brick I dropped was as big as my dad’s” off-putting to potty humor-sensitive types? (C’mon, it’s pretty genius).

Had the severity of the California drought not yet fully dawned on people who, umm, use indoor plumbing?

It’s unclear what exactly happened with Project Drop-A-Brick’s failed maiden foray into crowdfunding. Perhaps the world simply wasn’t ready for bio-rubber toilet bricks that improve flushing performance brought forth by "a bunch of ad guys and manufacturing geeks who wanted to save water and make a poop joke." But just like a Fiber One bar washed down with a large iced latte, the nonprofit startup has, in a somewhat unexpected fashion, snuck up for round number two.

This time around, however, Project Drop-A-Brick is flush with cash thanks to a $100,000 donation from Shock Top Brewing Co., an ersatz craft beer maker owned by Anheuser-Busch. With the help of Shock Top’s do-gooding beer money, Project-Drop-A-Brick has relaunched its Indiegogo campaign and is now offering its signature product, water-conserving flat-pack bricks made from sustainably harvested rubber that expand when they come in contact with water, to backers at $5 a plop. While the bricks are still currently assembled by hand in small batches, the generous cash infusion will enable the grassroots company to invest in a manufacturing mold for mass-production.

Technically, the relaunched Indiegogo campaign is offering the bricks, estimated to help save 50 gallons of water per week, for free — the $5 is to cover the cost of shipping. For five bucks more, backers can participate in a give one, get one scheme: in addition to receiving their own Drop-A-Brick 2.0, a second brick will be donated to a particularly parched California community though partner organization Rising Sun Energy Center. (“You heard right: not only can you Drop-A-Brick in your own toilet, you can do it in someone else's at the same time. That's priceless!”)

Needless to say, the good folks at Drop-A-Brick are beyond grateful that Shock Top decided to step up to the commode and throw the struggling startup a much-needed lifeline.

As Australia-born Drop-A-Brick co-founder Ian Montgomery recently explained to Co.Exist, the venture would have been, well, truly in the crapper, without the beer maker’s assistance: “We faced really difficult production, slow and labor-intensive, and we really did not know how we could continue to move this forward. Honestly, without this injection, we probably would have been dead in the water."

Drop-a-BrickDrop-a-Brick offers a water-saving alternative to clay bricks which can eventually disintegrate and damaging plumbing systems when fully submerged in toilet tanks. (Image: Project Drop-A-Brick)

And while Drop-A-Brick is the first fledging water conservation outfit to receive funds from Shock Top, purveyor of a product that ultimately (and ideally) results in the flushing of a toilet, it isn’t the last.

As part of the beer's Shock the Drought campaign, the company will provide other practical water-conserving “breakthrough products” seeking crowdfunding cash on Indiegogo with financial assistance of between $50,000 and $100,0000. Working with partners Save Our Water, California’s statewide water conservation education program, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Moby-scored Save the Drop campaign, Shock the Drought will identify and fund a new Indiegogo campaign with “the potential to make a big impact on water conservation” each month through the end of the year.

Jake Kirsch, vice president of Shock Top, explains the St. Louis-based company's California connection in a press release: “We love the State of California. In fact, one out of every four Shock Tops are enjoyed in the state, and we want to help by bringing our innovative thinking and unique brand spirit to rally support and make a positive impact on this very serious issue. Working together, we can Shock the Drought by sharing great ideas, pledging support and funding new inventions, and we’re excited to lead this charge.”

It’s safe to say that Shock Top certainly launched its drought awareness campaign with a big, stinking winner.

Via [Co.Exist], [Los Angeles Times]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Beer maker donates big bucks to water-saving toilet brick startup
Shock Top saves cheeky/ingenious conservation startup Drop-A-Brick from sinking.