What would you do if you were a budding entrepreneur, and you randomly bumped into Apple CEO Tim Cook? Wait—before you answer, let’s add some more variables to the equation.

1. You’re selling showerheads
2. So that means you need Tim Cook to try your product in the shower
3. And remember, Tim Cook isn’t just a total stranger. He’s Tim Cook, the man leading the most profitable company in the world.

Today, Philip Winter is the cofounder, CMO, and president of Nebia, the lauded startup behind luxurious-but-ecofriendly showerheads. Winter has proven to be an adept entrepreneur, having raised $9 million on Kickstarter, and brokered a partnership with Moen that drove his showerhead pricing from $650 to $120 in just a few years. Winter calculates that his company’s showerheads have saved 400 million gallons of water in less than a decade. Over this time, Nebia has also expanded into other bath goods. Its new accessory is a towel made from the same high-tech upcycled textiles favored by Patagonia.

But back in October of 2014, Winter was just a twentysomething who’d relocated to San Francisco, lugging around two ugly showerhead prototypes and racking up business expenses on his personal credit card. He didn’t have a network of VCs to fund his big idea, nor did he have money to focus group his product for feedback.

So instead, he got permission to test his product at a Bay Area gym. And for the first time, Winter shares the story of what happened next. At 5 a.m. one morning, he spotted Tim Cook doing bench presses. A comedy of errors ensued as Winter tried to get Cook to test the shower again and again. Luckily, Winter got a feel-good Hollywood ending.

Read the Fast Company Premium Exclusive story here.


Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach. More

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