Geeking out on product. It’s what we do.
Everything starts somewhere, we just never thought taking a drink of moldy and plastic tasting water would be the beginning of something new.
Where did this idea even come from?
Our first baby was born in 2018. As parents it seemed obvious to us that Svea, our daughter, should drink out of non-plastic bottles. It turned out to be much more difficult than we thought because most baby bottles are plastic and Svea refused most lids. In the end she fought all bottles any way and went straight to a sippy cup, which is beside the point (she is still very stubborn to this day and we love her for it!). Fast forward to a cross country ski later that winter after we stopped along the trail to take a drink of water. Or, in my case, rather pound some water to attempt to keep up with Carina. For those of you that don’t know what a drink belt is for cross country skiing they are basically a fanny pack of water and are harder to clean than traditional plastic squeeze bottles. Point being, the water was terrible and full of a moldy and plastic taste. After realizing what we were drinking every time we exercised, our brains clicked.
Drink belts are a huge part of a nordic skier's life - whether on snow or off. Carina's was 15+ years old and tasted oh so bad.
We had this big realization that we consumed water out of plastic in all the sports and activities we loved. Cycling, in particular, jumped out as having a huge problem waiting to be tackled. We are product geeks at heart and from that moment forward we jumped straight into the world of bottles. WOW, did we have a lot to learn!
No squeeze, no problem (haha, yeah right!)
We realized from the beginning of creating the first Bivo bottle that it had to perform as well or better than traditional plastic cycling bottles. Why?! As a product that was going to be focused on health and sustainability, we were confident that without nailing performance too, it would flop. We simply couldn’t think of a cyclist who would use a nifty stainless bottle only to have to convince their cycling friend to pull over while they unscrewed the lid to drink. No, our bottle had to perform as well or better than plastic in multiple areas to ensure it would be adopted. And, most importantly, you had to be able to use one hand and get a whole heck of a lot of water without squeezing.
We tested a lot of bottles in the process of developing the Bivo One and used whatever we could get our hands on to mock up prototypes.
From early sketches to our first real prototype. It was so fun to pour the Bivo One for the first time.
As it turns out, getting water out of a bottle is way harder than expected. Especially out of a rigid metal bottle that doesn’t squeeze. What we thought would take a good 4-6 months ended up taking 18 months, lots of hot glue, countless 3D prints, endless tinkering, and a very smart engineer (yes, he really did previously work for NASA). These were incredible days - we love product, the thought process, strategy, and tinkering required. The team laughed at me filling up prototype after prototype, drinking from it, staring at it, and then repeating. In addition to being the most fun project I’ve worked on, it was also probably the most hydrated I’ve ever been.
Cage testing was also a huge part of our development - on and off the bike. We had a 2"x4" in our office that we screwed different cages onto and when people needed a break from their desks, they took a turn putting bottles in and out of different cages.
Simplicity is best
When we started down the path of solving how to get water out of a rigid metal bottle, we quickly had idea after idea. Some of them were crazy cool while some were extremely complex. I still remember measuring and tweaking designs that had chambers, pathways, and involved way too much knowledge of fluid dynamics than should likely be part of a simple water bottle. We set ourselves on a quest for simplicity knowing that our future consumers would demand it.
At this point, we had interviewed many cyclists of all types as well as set up a few focus groups. We gained a lot of information during this time. However, the key pieces of feedback that drove our design forward were three elements; it had to flow well without squeezing, have a one-handed open/close system, and be easy to clean. We were told time and time again about gross old bottles that tasted like mold and plastic. This was a big moment as easy cleaning helped spearhead the need for simplicity. It was easy to think of other water bottle lids that had so many parts or completely lacked the ability to be taken apart. We kept pushing and pushing ourselves to simplify our ideas until at the end, the Gravity Flow lid, our current system, came forward.
The many phases of the Bivo One. We started simple through rapid prototyping that evolved into our final concept.
Why did we land on this concept? It met all the key aspects we determined necessary. You could open and close it with one hand, it flowed (wow, it flowed so much we almost had to slow it down!), and the overall design was beautifully simple and, better yet, could be designed to have every component come apart for easy cleaning.
Endlessly tinkering with our prototypes prior to launch.
A few short paragraphs makes this process sound easy but it was nowhere near simple. In fact, there were times we all felt like it was not going to be possible to make a metal bottle as good or better than a traditional plastic bottle. The good news is we love problems and as I’ve said we are product geeks at heart. This is a good thing because while we have launched our bottle, we still work on it daily and discuss how it can be improved.
On that note, if any of you have product feedback we are all ears and would love to hear what you have to say.
While we designed the Bivo bottles specifically for cyclists, we know they are being well loved in all aspects of life. We want Bivo to take you on adventures and fuel more fun, no matter what you’re up to. Here's some photos of you having fun while riding. That makes us so happy!
Photo Credit: @roszko
And yes, your kid will probably steal your bottles, it’s probably the number one complaint we get! Thanks for all the cheers and supports. You are helping spread the word of Bivo and we are so grateful!
March 16, 2023
Hi Dylan! A replacement for drink belts was actually our first idea but we realized there are too few nordic skiers in this world and decided to tackle the cycling industry first. I have moved from a drink belt to a water bottle holder using a Bivo bottle while skiing but I do find myself missing space for the important things such as kick wax and bars. No designs are in the works at the moment, but it’s great to know there is some demand for it!