Made in Schenectady: personal care for your derriere

mb3 multipleEarlier this week saw mention of a product called MB3 on Twitter -- and it seemed to have a local connection. Hmm... what's MB3? So we checked out the web site. From the product page:

MB3 is a soothing external perianal cleansing lotion designed to achieve that "bidet fresh" feeling on the go. When applied to toilet paper for the final wipe, MB3 will leave you clean, comfortable, and confident.

OK, so we have to admit we thought at first this might be a joke. But it seemed to check out. So who was, uh, you know, behind this product?

The answer: Steve Markham . He's a remodeling contractor (by day) in Schenectady -- and now a personal care product developer (by night).

We emailed Steve a few questions and he bounced back answers about the origin of the idea, getting his start at a business incubator in Schenectady, and his home-brew setup for MB3.

How did MB3 come about?

I'd say the beginning thought happened over 21 years ago, as my oldest son is over 21 now. Probably almost everyone uses baby wipes on their infants, and we were no exception. I started using the kid's wipes, and once you start a new regimen, if it works, it becomes a habit.

We were in Los Osos, CA at the time with a small front yard and a septic tank and leach field tucked into it. If you used a wipe and flushed it, they were slow to decompose in those days, and it started wreaking havoc on the system. Throwing them in the trash was really not an acceptable solution either for me, as it created its own "problems."

After having to have a second set of septic laterals installed, I was thinking there had to be a better way. Regular toilet paper breaks down better than the wipes, so all I had to do was add something to the toilet paper. I started trying everything reasonable and analyzing the results. I eventually found that specific hair conditioners had the proper characteristics to do the job and complement the toilet paper for the final wipe.

At the time, it was for "personal" use only, and not a business concept. As the years went past, I would look in the stores and not see anything commercially available that was similar in concept. That got the wheels and gears in my head starting to spin.

What was the moment when you decided, "That's it! I have to develop a personal care product for the derriere!"

I actually spent about two years looking and wondering why the big guys did not have any similar products out, and was looking for a reason that they might pass on it. That worry was for naught, as Proctor & Gamble, Kimberly/Clark, and a few others were enamored with wipes and each striving for the market share.

I eventually felt they were overlooking an obvious product and became encouraged enough to work on the concept over time. I could sneak in while they were looking the other way!

I was going to be the first one!!! (not!)

mb3 bottleSo how does one go about developing such a product?

I've been a long time reader of INC and Entrepreneur magazines, and after reading about others' struggles, failures, and successes, I was nervously ready to step up to the plate. I had the confidence that I was on to something, and willing to follow that notion.

I tend to think ahead, and as I knew I wanted to pursue development of a product, I first decided to develop a business to house and protect myself and the product. My wife, at the time, and kids enrolled me in an entrepreneur class at SCCC in the winter of 2005, I believe, as a Christmas present, and I got up the courage to use my concept for my class project. That was scary, fun, and eventually, exhilarating.

That class was a great initial ice breaker for me to do that in front of other people, as I knew I had to overcome being shy and reserved about it myself. Noting peoples various reactions became kind of fun, in a research kind of way. I found older folks, and especially women, did not seem to have bowel movements, as they were more of the "not me" crowd. That's OK, I don't need everyone! I think the baby boomers that grew up around the start of using wipes on their kids are the more open and understanding demographic crowd for these products.

A sense of humor and a matter of fact attitude on the subject was key to concept survival.

I got my favorite conditioner and sent it to a lab in Florida with a chunk of money that does de-formulation. As the ingredients are listed on the products, they break them down to determine a close ratio of the percentage of those ingredients so we could have a starting base to work from.

While this was going on, I was able to join the U-Start Incubator in Schenectady, and promised not to try to embarrass them, as I had very little business experience in this sort of thing, and I engaged Brian Zweig of Business Opportunities to act as an outside adviser. Both good moves.

At this time, I was starting to pay more attention to the chemical ingredients in products and realized that the conditioner was not good at all, and had to go. Brian, in the meantime had popped my balloon by finding other products in existence that were doing what I wanted to do. I bought as many as I could and tested them all, and decided on one to use as a base product and went about eliminating the more toxic ingredients and adding some beneficial others. I contracted this work with a company in Missouri that specializes in this sort of thing, and over a four month period, and a few trial batches, we had our own proprietary formula.

Development of the product is more than the contents of the bottle. It includes the bottle choice itself, the artwork, colors and such. I chose to work with Elizabeth Delos at Brayton Graphics, who at that time was also a U-Start Incubator business, though far more seasoned than I. I picked out a name I liked and she developed the logo and art work we currently use, with the branding of the product as an absolute mission goal.

I have trademarked the name, MB3, successfully, and have a catch phrase of "personal care for your derriere" that is currently undergoing the United States Patent and Trademark Office approval process. (USPTO) We failed in the first try with it.

Each phase of the project has been an educational experience for sure, and is not for the faint of heart, timid or quitters. A true entrepreneur does not have the word "can't" or "quit" in their vocabulary. There are quite a few wealthy entrepreneurs, as well as homeless, I'm sure.

Did you have any personal background in personal care products?

I had absolutely zero when I started, or even less than zero.

Now, is a quite different story. I have spent countless hours over the last five years doing research, taking notes, asking questions, googling for information and competitors, e-baying for mixing equipment, and more.

Rudy Benzsay of Benzsay and Harrison, a formulating and packaging firm in Delanson, NY, was beyond kind in helping me to mix my first one gallon batch and show me how it's done. Now I have a home lab set up, and I mix, fill, and label, as well as package and mail the product. Production is a one man show at the moment, but quite do-able and enjoyable also. Eventually, it will grow old, I'm sure.

As filling machines for a product as thick as mine run $7K or so, which I do not have, I was determined to build my own, and did so using a Schwinn bicycle foot operated pump, a used apple juice bottle, various plumbing fittings, hoses, an empty kitty litter pail, and good old American ingenuity and determination. After working a few bugs out, and some more modifications, it worked like a charm, and was a pleasure to use.

I filled 524 bottles on my first production run, and needless to say, was quite proud of myself.

I am a remodeling contractor by trade (my real job) and am used to thinking (way) out of the box and finding solutions to problems, as reasonably possible.

How do people react when you tell them about MB3?

Initially, it was with a great deal of concept shock. Some folks would edge away as soon as possible.

I figured everyone was due to at least one double take moment, then they either got over it and could talk openly or slightly guarded about it, or you could tell they were very uncomfortable with the thought. A red face is a good indicator!

Once I had prototypes to hand out and show, the ratio swung in my favor, not hugely, but then it was more of a reality than a nutty remodeler's crazy concept.

I have learned to have fun with it, and have found a growing percentage of folks willing to try a free sample! My Mom was a great example. She's old-school. I think she went into a mild state of shock when I told her, seemed to come out of it, and then suggested "why don't you invent a wipe." Sheesh!

I really get a lot of reactions. I enjoy them all, and never go out of my way to convert them. They either get it or they will, later. Some just don't. That's OK, it's a huge market. You'd be surprised by how many people I talk to tell me they use wipes, and sometimes produce them for me as proof, usually in the glove box of the car, or packing in camping or travel cases.

As I am in my customers houses a bit, I always take notice of additional personal cleaning products which are normally a deco box of wipes near by, and I smile! That helps to substantiate that the desire for more personal hygiene is real.

Having a finished (is it ever really?) product in my hand that I am proud to show, and comfortable with the formulation we have, gives me the confidence to explain the product with absolute sincerity and honesty, and that gets people over their un-easiness and to at least check it out. They may have a buddy that would love that. I do get quite a bit of that.

It would seem like you have to have some sense of humor about this -- any good jokes come up along the way?

Fortunately, I do have a pretty decent sense of humor, and that will be a strategic focal point for the marketing of a product such as this. It has to be light hearted enough to not repulse people right away, but hey, if they want to buy one and hide it in their pocket or purse, for personal use, great.

As far as jokes go, not many. One guy at a bar I was at last week, that knew me, was talking to 5 or 6 of his buddies, and out of the blue, I heard the term "ass cream" tossed out.

I immediately turned down to look, sized up the crowd, and took the bait. I had two bottles in my pocket and slung them down the bar. One guy laughed a lot and did not believe it, until I said, hey look, my address is on the back. It's for real. Then I explained the product, and two guys did pocket them after everyone had checked them out.

Mission accomplished.

Do you use MB3?


Between using the conditioner from way back, and up to now, I have always been using something. I would eagerly try the newest formulations when they were sent, and carry mine in my lunch pail pocket for work.

All you need is a small pea sized drop, or less, on a piece of toilet paper for the final wipe. It is possible to get over 100 uses out of our 20ml bottle.

My sister in Alaska has been a tester for me for years also, and I have customers that use it on a regular basis. It really works well. I've had it challenge tested to make sure the preservatives are doing their job, and we've had a three month accelerated stability test done to show compatibility with the container and the mix itself.

What's next? Where do you hope/plan to take all this?

First off, I never think about the money, any big stuff that is. But don't get me wrong, I want to get there, and a move up to a higher quality of beans would be nice...

If I take care of the product and the process, which will always evolve until they reach continuous plateaus of efficiency, I believe the product will eventually take care of me.

I would like to grow the company, but also have some fun with it. Being a small tightly held company gives us the latitude to take advantage of marketing and advertising in ways that big companies won't risk, as they can't risk losing market share or pissing off share holders or investors. We have less at risk. More to gain.

Wipes are the only thing you might see in TV ads currently, though we are going to focus on e-commerce first and foremost and use Twitter, blogging and other modern, economical tools to get to the customers. If that all goes well, then further opportunities will evolve.

I like sports car racing, and one of my persistent goals is to get the logo on the hood of a stock car maybe, as they get good TV coverage, but a Le'mans or Rolex Grand Am Series car would really please me, as they also get good TV coverage, and cater to a slightly different demographic crowd. That would be a sort of ego trip I guess, but also a goal on my agenda. I would deserve it at that point, anyway.

If we can get good sales growth, retain and grow market share, and build the brand, it might be very possible to be bought by a larger firm in five or six years and go lay on a beach for a while. I need a vacation.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


I find it inspiring that the Electric City continues to be a hotbed of invention.

In these economic times, we all need to find ways to buttress our income.

Any local stores carrying it? :)

Try a small travel bottle with a press-open top. Fill it with 50% Witch Hazel, 50% tap water. Sprinkle on the TP and wipe. Repeat as necessary. Very inexpensive, very clean result, using TP and witch hazel.

According to, toilet paper was invented and patented in Albany. Who knew the area had such a history of improving derriere clean-up?

Steve from MB3 here,
Thanks for checking out the article!
We are not currently in any local stores, but can be reached through our website at:
Our web page just went live on March 2nd, at 12:32am, I believe, through Scott Glasser at Brayton Graphics in Schenectady, also.
I was wishing I could have got a few products into Stephen Colbert's gift basket from Schenectady!
That alone may have elicited a response from him!
The rest of Schenectady may not have pleased with that type notoriety though!
All in good fun.
Steve at MB3

That website is excellent! Between that and the choice of packaging design this product would be at home on any drugstore shelf.
I'd love to see it in stores actually; I am all for supporting local business, but I'd feel a little silly shipping myself something from less than 10 miles away.

I really hope you're making it clear that this is for the backside only. Wiping the vagina with anything other than toilet paper can introduce chemicals, disrupt the natural pH, and cause yeast infections. This is why douching is unhealthy and not recommended by doctors.

Not to mention, vaginas are self-cleaning and don't need to be "cleansed" anyway.

Abby - I believe the tag line is self explanatory that it is for your backside "Personal care for your derriere" and incase that wasn't obvious, it explains it on the product page ( under the section MB3 REVOLUTION

I know a drug store that would happily carry this product:

Just want to second I think the website is great! Also I think it's good to reassure people the ingredients are safe & non-toxic!

Steve at MB3 here again,
Thanks for the post comments!
First to Emily, Thanks for your comments on the web site!
Liz Delos at Brayton Graphics in Schenectady has carried the ball on the whole site, and to clarify, Scott is an employee of her operation.
I am soooo pleased with the website and how it does present a touchy subject in a humorous and delicate manner.
It would be hard to improve upon it, and I am very proud to have it to represent my humble start up!
Even though this project has been in motion for years, it is less than a few days on the real market currently.
I understand the in-efficiency of having to buy via web site and pay shipping and handling on it, but as a start up, the web site is most efficient for us at this time.
We do hope to gravitate to stores in time, but in reality, it is not an easy thing to do!
We do have a few small 12 bottle displays around, but until folks are at least familiar with the product, they are reluctant to spend the $6.95 for it.
On the internet and via our web site, folks can take their time, read about it, and make an informed decision to purchase.
I hope you will "bend" a little bit for now and order one to try!
We'd appreciate it!
In the future, we'd like to approach Price Chopper, Stewarts, and CVS to carry the product, but first we have to prove ourselves and earn the right to even ask them!
Thanks for your post!

Now, to Witch Hazel, yes, you can make up your own mix for personal use. I think "Tucks" is a product using these ingredients, and is more of a medicated solution, and usually recommended for woman after childbirth to clean the strained and damaged area's. In the past, I started out with water, and the oldest standby, spit!
What I found out is that either of those will rapidly decompose the toilet paper on contact, and you end up with your fingers usually coming through the paper for a visit, and leaving those little "dingleberries" behind, which was not too appealing to me.
I believe the witch hazel acts in the same way, but then Tucks, like wipes, have their own re-inforced applicator.
The Witch Hazel method may be more for a woman's delicate private area's, in my opinion, and a dabbing, versus wiping situation. MB3 is a wiping method product.
Being a male, I can't test personally for these situations, and therefore can't vouch for them honestly.

And finally to Abby! Believe it or not, there are quite a few competing products out there that want to be every thing for everybody. They claim to work for the front, the back, and probably your arm pits if they thought it would help sell the product.
We are strictly for the "derriere", and though it may work in some other situations, that would be up to the end user.
We want to have a focused product that is for one purpose only, and that is for perianal cleansing, and not the vaginal area!
We want to do one thing, and we want to do it well!
Thanks for that post also and letting me clarify your concern!

And finally to jess, a repeat "poster", thanks for the insight into the origin of our beloved toilet paper!
I would have never suspected this, but had not thought about it.
Now for my final thought of the moment, who dreamed up one ply? I believe it was made to breakdown in a septic system easier, but who can actually use it with out folding it up into a few layers anyway?
It might be good for dabbing, but for a good wipe, look out!
Thanks all!
Steve Markham

Steve at MB3 again,
Tim, I checked out your post link to Butt Drugs, and that is pretty damn humorous!
Steve Markham

> Not to mention, vaginas are self-cleaning and don't need
> to be "cleansed" anyway.

There's another bit to consider here. Folks tend to suppose that #1 and #2 are equally vile, microbe-wise, but they're not. #1, as produced, is inert. #2 is where microbes go to party like it's 1899.

Now, with women, #1 follows an exit route that can change things (middle of the stream, please). Same could be true for uncircumsized men, but I dunno the mechanics of that.

Anyhow, you're way, way better off getting pissed on. Which is not permission for your freaky ass to do whatever it freaky-ass wants this Saturday night, okay? Sheesh. Go to a movie already. No. No. Go visit your mom. God, you people are weird.



There is fat and even more fat in the list of ingredients.
The Tucks (Anusol) product contains them too but it's intended only for temporary relief; also they suggest to wash affected area with soap and water whenever practical.
Why fat is a problem? Because it's a fertile breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria.
Vaginitis is a very real and highly unpleasant thing.

And for "Schwinn bicycle foot operated pump, a used apple juice bottle, various plumbing fittings, hoses, an empty kitty litter pail" kind of dispensing product - that's downright scary.

If people want to wet-wipe that much they'd better use Aveeno or some other mosturizing lotion. At least it's prepared in more sanitary conditions.

Jeez Lu,
You are tough!
Thanks for your comments on the tucks and such. Fat! Who would have guessed. Are you aware of the ingredients for bar soap? I'm guessing that if you won't use a product with fat, (or lard), that you may not use soap. Just a hunch...

As for the vaginitis, I can only imagine that this is a condition you don't want to have! So, I agree with you on that one.
This is a perianal cleanser, and you may have to look that word up, it appears...

As for the filling machine, I guess you could picture and imagine anything you desire, but the truth of the matter is that a cleaned out kitty litter bucket functions as a stand, the Schwinn air pump provides the pressure needed in small amounts to propel the product through the lines, and the apple juice bottle acts as a pressurized vessel to hold the product while filling.
The system is simple and easy to dis-assemble and clean.
As I am pretty "anal" about the whole business and procedures, I can assure you that it is a sanitized operation, despite your pre-conceived notions.

As I had tried quite a few of the existing lotions also in my search for the proper product, I wish you well with your choices.
To the rest of you, I do not recommend them, but, if you want, feel free to compare for yourself!

Thanks, Steve Markham, MB3

Also Steve,
I think there should be some sort of warning on there to check with your physician if you have any dermatological issues in the area.

Thanks for your comment on the warning and dermatological issues, and, yes, you are correct!
As this is a cleansing product, and not by any means a medical type of product, I will work on getting the appropriate wording onto the web page and such.
I appreciate your good observation!
Steve @ MB3

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