Thursday, October 6, 2022

Don’t let naysayer bring you down

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

KEEGO: The world’s first squeezable metal bottle

Please introduce yourself and your startup KEEGO to our readers!
I’m Lukas, the founder of KEEGO: The world’s first squeezable metal bottle.

In all sports hydration is key. And for most athletes it is crucial to have a bottle that is squeezable. Allowing for fast, precise, one-handed drinking and thereby minimizing the distraction. But up until now all squeezable bottles were made out of plastic. That means: bad taste, potential health risk and throw away mentality.

Driven by that problem I set out two years ago to develop a better sports bottle. Many attempts later I found a suitable material (elastic titanium). Even more attempts later I found a suitable producer. A manufacturer specialized in producing kicker chamber for CERN and other particle accelerators around the world.

Last fall we produced the first bottle as proof-of-concept. Currently, a dedicated production system is being built in Denmark.

How did you get the idea to KEEGO?
I’m from Switzerland and a huge fan of Roger Federer. What I and my friends have been wondering all these years is why “mister clean” is drinking from cheap plastic bottles. Surely he has to take care of his sponsors, but king Roger should be in a position to rule his kingdom 😉

Nowadays, all your equipment is high-tech. You have the best shoes, the best shirt – but sports bottles are still the same they were 30 years ago. Being a former athlete myself I saw the need for change.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
We started of with a classic product design process but soon realised that for this challenge a true innovation is needed. We spent countless hours at trade fairs, looking for solutions in materials and possible technologies. From alloys, elastic and metallic glass to complicated pump systems, origami structures, hydroforming, deep drawing and creative welding – for one or the other reason none of these technologies seem to be quite the right solution for the challenge at hand.

10 months later a good friend from back home gave me a hint that drew my attention towards the field of layering-technology. Another 4 months later I had the proof-of-concept in my hand from an Austrian University. But finding a producer that is able and willing to develop and manufacture such a high-tech prototype for a small startup without was probably the most challenging part of it all.
Besides the technical challenges financing the project, assembling and managing the increasingly big team was and still is the biggest challenge. Since I am holding everything together the immense variety of topics (e.g. product, brand, marketing, financing, patent) is something I appreciate but is also very challenging.

Why Crowdfunding?
After such a long time of development we are looking forward to a real market feedback and to learn about our future customers. Additionally to the financial support it also helps us to validate our business plan.

Where do you see the advantages?
Through crowdfunding you can get an earlier market feedback and start a dialog with your early adopters. In a phase where you still have the possibility to shape the details of your product and your marketing this is very valuable. The market feedback also helps us in discussions with manufacturers and other service providers to outline the future demand. And finally, the funds contributed to the project help us cover the advance payments for tools and materials.

What will you realize after successful financing?
We will bring the first squeezable metal bottle to life. Depending on the success we will grow the team and try to find more investors.

Who is your target audience?
More narrow it’s athletes that know the benefits of a light and squeezable bottle but don’t want to compromise on taste or health. Due to the higher price (45€) it has to be a target group that spends rather more money on their equipment.
More general it’s people with an active and healthy lifestyle.
We’ll learn more about them throughout the campaign.

What is the USP of your product?
We’re fusing all the benefits of a light and squeezable plastic bottle with the clean taste and endurance of a metal one.
– New and high-tech
– Best taste
– Clean (for you and the environment)
– Light, fast and precise
– Better design

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
I get up at 7, take a coffee and start working right away. Around 9 I take a shower, have breakfast and then I head off to the office. There I juggle all the different topics (see above) and work hard until 8 p.m. Then I go home and try to make a clear cut to my private life – rather less successful.

Where do you see yourself and your startup KEEGO in five years?
Thanks to the patent and a strong production partner we will not only be selling KEEGO worldwide but also produce elastic metal bottles for other sports article brands. In five years Chris Froome, Manchester United, Conor McGregor and the Montreal Canadiens will all drink from KEEGO bottles.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
1. Don’t let naysayer bring you down. I was turned down harshly by two professors and a third one at the very same university eventually helped me develop the material.

2. In case of hardware: Go on trade shows! Nowhere else you will find so many people ready to give you an introduction. There you can learn a lot and take the chance to make a good first impression.

3. Talk to as many people as possible about your project. Even the worst feedback might bring up a good idea.

Picture Lukas Angst Source KEEGO

Link to Crowdfunding

More information you will find here

Thank you Lukas Angst for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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