When Nebia woos investors, it invites them to take a shower.
The strangely intimate sales pitch has proven effective. The six-person start-up in San Francisco, which has developed a water-conserving shower head, already has received funding from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names. Its first investors, most of whom have showered with the product, include Timothy D. Cook, the chief executive of Apple. In addition, Nebia has received funding from Michael Birch, a founder of the members-only club the Battery, and from the Schmidt Family Foundation, which was co-founded by Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google.
Nebia said its shower head, which looks like a circular street lamp hanging from the base of an aluminum iMac, reduced water consumption by as much as 70 percent. The product uses nozzles to break water up into tiny droplets, which increases the surface area of where the spray can go. While the average shower takes 20 gallons of water, Nebia said its product used six gallons.
“Nebia’s showering technology has the potential to be transformative,” said Wendy Schmidt, president of the Schmidt foundation, in a statement. “It’s innovative and elegant, and can also have a significant impact on water use — not just in California, where we’re experiencing a severe drought — but around the world where fresh water resources are limited.”
Apple declined to comment, except to say Mr. Cook’s stake in the start-up was a personal investment. Nebia declined to say how much money it had raised.
Since October, Nebia has tested prototypes of the shower head inside locker rooms in some Equinox gyms and on the campuses of Apple, Google and Stanford University.
In my testing of a prototype, the multinozzle shower head produced a misty spray (the word nebbia in Italian means mist) that immersed me in water, unlike traditional shower heads that shoot pressurized streams of water. It made my hair feel flat and uncooperative, though my skin felt soft and relaxed.
“We want to own that space, but with a better sense of both experience and water conservancy,” said Carlos G. Andonaegui, a founder of Nebia, about the shower head market.
Mr. Andonaegui came up with the idea for the shower head in 2010 when he headed the health club chain Sport City in Mexico. Water was one of the club’s scarce resources, so Mr. Andonaegui and his father worked on a solution, developing a prototype after two years.
They later met Philip Winter, who had previously worked for Toilets for People, a start-up that made waterless toilets for the developing world. The founders of Nebia moved to San Francisco last August and brought on a third founder, Gabriel Parisi-Amon, who recently left a job at Apple where he worked on the iPhone’s supply chain.
Nebia’s fund-raising efforts are also continuing. The company began a project to raise money on Kickstarter on Tuesday, aiming to collect at least $100,000 to ship its first batch of shower heads by next spring.