Although warm beer may be popular in England, most beer lovers in the States would probably rather drink water from the kitchen tap and use the warm beer as a hair rinse!
Cousins Adam Callinan and Matt Campbell were no exception. They loved to hang out on the beach, basking in the sun and sipping on a nice cold beer. Matt was at the beach with his Uncle Van one day and they were complaining about how quickly the beer warmed up in the hot summer sun after it was poured into their plastic cups. They were tossing around ideas when Matt had a brainstorm: “What if we could leave the beer in the bottle and put the bottle in something that would keep it cold, like one of those stainless steel water bottles?” Since they also knew that in other settings (tailgating before a sport event, sitting on the front porch, at a frat party) the danger of dropping the bottle and breaking it was an issue, the product he envisioned would also either keep the bottle from breaking if possible, or at least safely contain the broken glass.
At the time, Adam was working in Los Angeles, with over ten years of experience in building small businesses. In a 2016 interview with Raghav Haran of SingleGrain, Adam recalled that in the beginning of their joint venture his “cousin and partner had a lot more faith in the product than I did. I thought it was a great product, and I loved it and used it myself, but I wasn’t convinced early on that someone would pay $20 or $25 for it.”
While the cousins didn’t need to raise a significant amount of money, a crowdfunding campaign was initiated as a way of determining whether there would be demand for the product at a price sufficient to create a functional business model. With an initial goal of $5,000, they ended up with a total of $13,928 from over 300 backers and convinced Adam that “we had something that was more than just a novelty item that you’d see on the shelf at Spencer’s.”
The first product was shipped in January of 2014. “We kind of fumbled around for maybe seven or eight months, played with Facebook advertising and AdWords, Twitter advertising, all the normal things that people go and try to do and figure out,” Adam told Rahgav Haran. “What I figured out pretty quickly was with this product, is you have to see it in action. It’s a visual product. I had basically been using still images because at the time that’s all you could do with Facebook.” In August of 2014 Facebook launched a video platform and after putting a video on their Facebook page, income grew quickly—rising from monthly sales of $2-3,000 in August to $60,000 in the first two weeks of December 2014.
BottleKeeper initially sold primarily on their website and Facebook page. When they realized through their marketing analysis that their largest group of customers is women between the ages of 35 and 60, they began to use Pinterest as well. Being a predominately women-based site, this has worked out very well for the company.
Like any successful entrepreneurs, Adam and Matt do a significant amount of analysis of their marketing efforts. According to a Facebook Business Case Study the BottleKeeper’s week-long campaign, which ran June 6–13, 2017, attracted hundreds of new customers and tens of thousands of dollars in additional online sales. “The makers of the insulated beer bottle container used offer ads to retarget people who had interacted with its video ads and website, generating more purchases, higher returns and over $25,000 in directly attributable revenue.”
BottleKeeper comes in three sizes: The Standard 2.0 is made for the typical 12 oz bottle such as Bud Light and Corona, has durable powder coated, metallic and printed finishes, and lots of color options to choose from. The Stubby 2.0 is made for the shorter/wider 12 oz bottles such as Sierra Nevada and Lagunitas, is powder coated (except Stainless) for superb feel and durability. The largest size is the same construction and made for a 22oz bottle. All sizes come with a bottle opener in the cap and a tether to keep it attached. The bottles can also be laser engraved with team names and decals or personalized.
Initially Matt and Adam may have had some doubts about how much interest their idea would garner. But by now there should be no doubt. In an article by Connie Chen on Business Insider in July 2018, she said the BottleKeeper solves problems that a simple koozie or party cup does not. “I like drinking beer, but I would like it a lot more if my bottles didn’t get warm within a half-hour. Now that I think of it, I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘Yum, I love warm beer!’”