February’s Gainesville Area Innovation Network luncheon featured SpinChill cofounders Trevor Abbott and Ty Parker, who spoke to the GAIN members about crowdfunding, figuring out the business of manufacturing and a corporate culture of having fun.
SpinChill is a small Gainesville startup and technology that aims to cool cans of beer in a fraction of the time that just sticking them in ice would take by spinning them in ice. A heightened convection process moves the warm beer to the outside of the can and cycles cold beer throughout so that it cools faster.
SpinChill’s product line consists of the ChillBit, an attachment for standard power drills, and the SpinChill, which is a complete mechanism that goes online for $29.99, or $25 for customers who buy from them in Gainesville.
Before searching for funding, the two tested their concept through a series of upgrades presented to friends, tailgaters, construction crews and NASCAR spectators. Once they had an idea, they decided to crowdfund their venture through Kickstarter, rather than take out loans. An initial goal of $10,000 ballooned to a final take of $40,046, helped along by national media attention from sources like Yahoo News and MSN.
Abbott said that once they had their funding they began to search for sources of rubber to manufacture and stumbled upon a man in Indiana named Art who offered to machine and refine their rubber for $400.
“We were like, ‘Let’s get started. Today,’” said Parker. Once they had Art, the two found a manufacturing partner in Shenzhen, China and opened up a free Weebly website to take preorders. The Kickstarter campaign ended in early November 2013 and between that time and Christmas the two made the same amount as their Kickstarter take in preorders and have been talking to grocers and Anheuser Busch. They also hold two provisional patents that they plan to consolidate and refile in June.
Business dropped off after Christmas, Abbott said, and the next year will involve much more planning ahead and implementing what they’ve learned over the past four months, like selling during peak shopping seasons and how to run sales, like a recent Valentines Day special.
SpinChill isn’t wanting for unit sales, though, according to Abbott. The two received preorders from 30 countries and have shipped to seven others. SpinChill’s revenue projections for 2014 are between $300,000 if business remains steady and $1 million if business increases, a slide the two showed said, and continue to rise over the next three years.
A domestic market size of 210 million Americans who tailgate at least once a year, an understanding of their customer demographics and interest from an Australian distributor who requested an order of 100,000 units make that a distinct possibility while Abbott and Parker continue to refine the product. They also plan to grow their online business and prototype new products that can chill multiple cans at once or on an industrial scale.
But having said that, the two aren’t in a hurry for business to explode, Abbott said, because their business model up until now has relied on having fun with the product and selling it face-to-face.
“We’re not really guys who like to sit in the back doing CAD work,” Parker said. “We like to be out talking to people and drinking beer.”