The water bottle hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years, according to Barak Zitron, one of the founders of the innovative MODL bottle, which has now raised more than $35,000 on Kickstarter. The realization came to him one day when the recent University of Georgia grad was out hiking in the summer of 2017.
“I had a Nalgene that was full of water and every step I took for miles it was banging up against my leg. I was so frustrated with why there wasn’t just one other point on the bottle to clip it in place,” he said. “It’s a rigid, single-purpose container, and I thought I could improve on it.”
The idea lived only in his head for a while, until, later that year, he was camping in North Carolina with two friends and fellow UGA students and Tau Epsilon Phi brothers, Justin Guld and Zack Leitz.
“There was a crazy storm one night and we had to stay in the tent all night, so I just threw this idea I had out there,” Zitron said. “The water bottle wasn’t versatile, and we thought we could do better. We decided that if we woke up the next day and didn’t think we were crazy, we’d start looking into it.”
Their innovation was a new challenge for the three, but not, by any means, an easy decision. Zitron had an investment banking job lined up, Leitz was beginning work in consulting and Guld was preparing to go to medical school.
“I was able to defer medical school for a year. I didn’t have to jump off all the way into it. It was more of an experimental phase,” Guld said.
Ultimately, Guld would decline medical school for the moment to continue focusing on MODL, a decision that he had to explain to friends and family.
“You can imagine how excited my parents were when I made a left turn from medical school to water bottles, so it took my family some time to really understand and see where our heads are at,” he said.
Zitron didn’t have the same time cushion to make his decision.
“I didn’t get to defer my investment banking job,” he noted. “I always thought I was going to be an entrepreneur, and so the people surrounding me expected this a little more from me than Justin, … but we all have friends and family surrounding us and they’re all on board too.”
While none of the three have prior experience in product design, Zitron took the lead on making his vision a reality, working with a prototyping firm in Nashville.
“I started with it being collapsible, and I realized that if it was double-ended it would be easier to clean, and you could put caps onto either end and really give the bottle a lot of different functionality,” Zitron said.
Incorporating different lids, each with different designs, MODL has water filtration, shower, hands-free and sports caps.
MODL’s Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign launched on April 16, and within its first five hours online, surpassed its $15,000 goal.
“All this hard work has culminated in the Kickstarter, and of course we had all our stuff aligned for production and fulfillment afterwards, but this was the big make or break jump for us,” Guld said. “It was one of the most exhilarating days of our lives.”
As of Monday, the team announced their first stretch goal: should they reach $50,000, colored ‘lifeloops,’ the attachment straps on the water bottle’s lid, would be available to backers.
As part of that Earth Day announcement, MODL also teamed up with One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every $10 raised that day.
Guld added that hearing from friends, family and supporters has been important for all three founders. “None of us could’ve expected this, and the outpouring of love and excitement from people has been amazing,” he said.
MODL’s Kickstarter runs through May 16. To learn more about MODL or the crowdfunding campaign, visit www.bit.ly/2GAfc3u.