2020 was a challenge, mildly put. We tried our absolute hardest to continue developing. Here is what we went through.
After we first launched KEEGO in summer 2019, we soon learned that problems often arise in areas where you do not place the most attention too. While focusing heavily on getting the bottle right - the cap, in particular the nozzle, and the sealing ring caused problems when not being handled right. And a good sports bottle has to withstand some well-intended mistreatment from time to time. So just half a year after launching KEEGO we started the redesign project of the cap.
By now we are at least a little bit experienced in product development, but we still did not expect it would take us so long to finally bring it to you. The main goal was to prevent the water from any plastic contact and boldly create the most hygienic cap available on the market. To solve this, we were looking for inspiration in many different areas and the system of baby bottle caps was convincing in many ways. What is good for babies is definitely also good for adults.
Together with Fredrik (part of team KEEGO since day 1) taking care of the product design - we produced prototype after prototype… after prototype. Now the tricky part is that although the 3D printing technology has well advanced there is a limitation when it comes to the very fine silicone structures. And as you will see when you get your new KEEGO the structures are very delicate. A little change in wall thickness, radius or material hardness make a massive effect on the overall functionality.
After a long search for a company that can create sample molds for our prototype nozzles (for a reasonable price, in a reasonable timeframe) we had the first prototype nozzle in Summer 2020. Since then we iterated many times (5 more sample molds) until we decided now it‘s ready.
The new nozzle is our answer to all our requirements regarding great flow, spill-proofness, sealing, cleanability, easy-assembly, durability and no-plastic-contact.
We strongly believe that this new design is made to last and that is exactly what our primary sustainability focus at KEEGO is. Not a throw away bottle.
The latest evolution stage of the KEEGO bottle brings a new outer material.
In order to optimize the squeezability we purposely skipped the indent that regular bottles have. This leaves the question regarding good grip of our KEEGO.
We all know and love the ripples both from an aesthetical and a functional point of view, however, on a rough playing field one or the other bottle might get dropped. That’s why we decided to go for a softer rubber like material on the outside (that also has a positive effect on the squeezability). The soft-touch material is very nice to hold and gives better grip even for sweaty hands.
We understand that with a softer outer layer, marks may arise more easily, but together with a bunch of Viennese bike-messengers we tested in harsh conditions and think they age very well.
They had a lot to do this year.
We said it already, but we will say it again - 2020 was tough.
We had to cut costs wherever we could in order to be able to invest as much as possible into product development. But, the word got around about our product anyway, and many chose KEEGO as their Christmas gift. Not that we are complaining. And by the end of November, we knew that we need to start a new production soon and so we reached out to our manufacturers. Christmas came along quickly and we hardly managed to order the materials (financing is always a major topic..).
We went highly motivated into the new year. But reality struck again. We learned that one of our manufacturers had to close down because of the big C and of course a massive drop in his orders.
Also, the delivery of one of our materials got stuck. Hi Brexit. We didn’t miss you.
As you know we always try to evolve and improve. Ranking very high on priorities, is that we try to maximize usage of bio and recycled materials. So we scheduled a sample run with our corona-struck manufacturer. It took us until mid-February to run these tests with recycled materials. And in the following testing the bottles failed. Gut punch. There is no sense in producing bottles in a more sustainable way if they lose their durability. Luckily, we made the test run with several combinations of materials and finally decided for the soft-touch material. We will continue working on this.
Now, it was time to push hard for a production start. So we convinced the manufacturer to re-open and slot us in. But the material from the UK was still not there…A lot of emails, a few calls later, a few favors called in, and we managed to borrow material from another factory and production could start mid-March.
The production itself was also bumpy just like the transport across Europe. Nothing seems to flow as it used to in these extraordinary times.
However, we now only have transport and assembly left and are very happy to soon be able to supply you with the latest stage of the KEEGO bottle, with better grip, squeezability and an entirely new cap!
We hope you get to enjoy it in a memorable beautiful spring and summer.
We Bounce Back!