A shared love of the environment has taken childhood friends, Jesse Leeworthy and Jonathan Byrt, on a quest to push Australians to make more sustainable choices when it comes to their obsession with bottled water.
Leeworthy tells Kochie’s Business Builders the idea for their beautifully designed re-usable water bottles came from a shared frustration of the impact plastic water bottles were having on our environment.
“Growing up in a small coastal town in Australia, we were constantly spending time at the beach and outdoors. We noticed an increase in the number of plastic water bottles that would wash ashore at our local beach, and decided to look into it a little bit further.”
Leeworthy says he and business partner and best buddy Jonathan Bryt were immediately stunned by the size of the problem.
“We had no idea how large this problem was initially and we were completely shocked at how, in a country that provides clean and accessible drinking water, people could buy single-use bottled water and pay over 1,400 times more than what it costs from the tap.”
While a reusable waterbottle is nothing new, the pair saw a gap in the market.
“We had experienced the frustrations of trying to fit round water bottles into our bags. All of the bottles out there were all designed around ease of manufacture. Because of this, car holders, bike holders and accessories followed suit. We decided to flip the equation and create a product that was optimized for transportation but still held the functionality of traditional water bottles. ”
Leeworthy (already a renowned industrial designer) went to work on the issue and the memobottle was born.
Watch: single use water bottles are a real environmental issue
“We knew from that point that not only could memobottle be a beautiful product, but it had the ability to become a vehicle to change people’s mentality around how water can be consumed.”
The pair launched their first range of products through crowd funding platform Kickstarter in 2014 and immediately surpassed their modest funding goal of $15k within 36 hours ultimately raising over $250K. Whilst it took almost 18 months from the campaign launch to see the bottles fully-realised, the success of the memobottle range has been incredible… They became such a hot commodity they were even included in the goodie bag for the 2016 Oscars!
Given the success of the initial campaign, it was a no-brainer that the pair would launch their new product, the memobottle H2.0. through Kickstarter again. The latest incarnation of the brand includes a new slimline memobottle and a series of premium accessories.
[Image] Memobottle founders show off their wares.
“Our new Slim memobottle is our tall and elegant addition to the memobottle family,” explains Leeworthy. The pair have also designed a new smaller bottle ideal for kids. Like all memobottles, they are BPA-free and are heatproof, freezer proof and dishwasher friendly.
Leeworthy says they have also listened to consumer feedback and developed a range of premium sleeves to fit the bottles, partnering with premium Australian leather label, Kinnon, to develop the range.
Whilst the pair’s concept has turned into a profitable small business, Bryt is quick to point out there is an altruistic reason behind the brand.
“We hope to use this launch as a megaphone to increase exposure to the cause and spread our message of halving single use water bottle consumption by 2020. The end game for us is not to sell as many bottles as possible but rather to encourage a more reusable society.”
Bryt says he will be forever grateful to the brand’s Kickstarter backers.
[image] The memobottle took out the coveted Good Design Award
“The Kickstarter experience was definitely a positive one for us. It was certainly a learning curve on many fronts, but both the challenges helped shape the memobottle we are today,” he tells Business Builders.
“Crowdfunding is such a beautiful and powerful tool: it allows an idea to be presented to the world, and it is society that decides whether they want or need it in their lives. Not that long ago you had to put your house on the line, or use life savings to back your idea to reality, before knowing whether it was an ideal solution in the customer’s eyes. Kickstarter is market research at it’s finest.
“The ability of crowdfunding to generate exposure and validate a solution to a problem is truly remarkable. Without our Kickstarter backers the memobottle would still be a CAD file sitting on our computer. It allowed us to create a product, a business and an environmental movement all at once – we think about this fact a lot. By the end of the memobottle 45-day Kickstarter campaign we had raised enough capital to produce tooling, purchase the material required, secure domains globally and solidify our IP protection worldwide.”
Byrt says since the initial Kickstarter campaign he and Leeworthy have spent the past two years focusing on strengthening the memobottle branding and values.
“The memobottle is now stocked in over 500 premium design stores and museums worldwide, and that list continues to grow by the day.
“We now have eight warehouses across the globe, resulting in reduced customer shipping costs, and delivery timeframes.
“Both initial memobottles have also taken out design awards with the A5 winning Gold in the A’Design Award in 2016 in in June 2017 the A6 recently taking out the coveted Good Design Award for housewares, fashion and objects.”
Just days into their 2nd Kickstarter the boys have already doubled their target raising over 76k. You can donate to the Kickstarter here