The reuseable bottle revolution
We thought it was about time we celebrated Great British Design here on the Forma Blog and who better to talk to than Founder & MD of Chilly’s
– James Butterfield, who tells us how it all started for him and how he turned a dream into reality.
James, welcome to the Forma blog. Chilly’s has been in business for over 5 years now, how did the idea evolve in the first place and where did the name come from?
The idea for Chilly’s came to me in the summer before my final year of university. I was away on holiday, and the hot weather made drinking cold water almost impossible while out and about. I found the only way to keep my water cold throughout the day was to carry around a traditional flask, but the style and design was not something many people or I wanted to use for cold drinks. Like many others at the time, I just started refilling an empty plastic water bottle each day, so the idea to create a product that combined the convenience of a plastic water bottle, with the high performance technology and eco-friendly benefits of a traditional flask evolved from that experience. Chilly’s was born you could say!
The name was actually my Mum’s idea. I wanted Chilly’s to keep drinks cold or hot for as long as we could make it possible, and so the whole play on words being 'chilly-cold' or 'chilli-hot' (as in pepper) was the basis for the name.
Financial support for Chilly’s all started via a crowd funding website, what was the response like to your plans?
The response when we launched our campaign on Indiegogo was fantastic. It was a lot of work preparing and running the campaign, but at the same time a lot of fun! We also have to live with our campaign video surfacing every now and again, which makes us cringe a little.
We had amazing support from our friends, families and at the time colleagues from our day jobs, but what we found really exciting was the backing we got from people we didn’t know who just liked our product enough to back us. That felt pretty special.
Did working in such a collaborative manner give you more confidence in establishing the brand?
Absolutely! It really did feel like we were putting ourselves and Chilly’s Bottles out there to be judged and to get such a positive response gave us a huge amount of confidence that what we were doing wasn’t totally mad. It also helped massively when approaching retailers and the press to demonstrate the amazing feedback we were getting from the public and therefore the potential consumer demand for our brand. The product really seemed to resonate with people, and we still get contacted by our Indiegogo supporters now.
And obviously the funding came through?
Yes it did thankfully. We decided to pick the riskier crowd funding option whereby if you don’t hit your target, everyone’s support is refunded. It was a bit scary, but we knew that in order to launch the 5 colour range (previously we only sold black) we needed to prove the demand and get the right level of financial backing. In the end we were fully funded, and received backing from people in over 20 countries.
At formahouse.co.uk we describe Chilly’s as the ‘re-useable water bottle revolution’. Was that the plan all along?
Our mission at Chilly’s is to increase the adoption and everyday use of reusable products. We understand people are creatures of habit, and however much we know we should be more eco-friendly, we don’t always reuse items, but we believe our products offer the level of style and performance benefits needed to make it an easy decision to start using a reusable water bottle instead.
The real genius of course is that the bottles can keep water ice cold for up to 24 hours and soups warm for 18 hours. How did you develop this kind of innovative technology?
The Chilly’s Bottle actually uses double-wall vacuum technology that can be found in the traditional flask. What we have done is produce a product that incorporates this technology into a modern and stylish design. We wanted to produce a bottle that people would enjoy using and want to have with them every day.
You recently launched the 260ml bottle what was the thinking behind this mini-version?
As I mentioned earlier we want to increase the adoption and use of reusable products in our everyday lives, and part of that was to produce bottle sizes and colours of our products to meet as many people’s tastes and requirements as possible. The 260ml has proved immensely popular for fitting into handbags as well as for children.
The demand from health conscious consumers for products to help hydrate us whilst on the go seems to be going from strength to strength. How do you see this trend and demand evolving?
We really believe people are becoming far more aware of the benefits of looking after themselves. More people are choosing to seek out ways to lead a healthier lifestyle, and drinking more water is a big part of this. We believe this will continue to grow, and our goal is to offer people the best possible products to make these lifestyle changes easy, enjoyable and genuinely beneficial.
What are your personal product development plans for the future. Anything exciting in the pipeline you can tell us about right now?
In the short term, our focus continues to be on expanding our Chilly’s Bottles offering. As for other product lines, this is something we are working on and what we can say is that anything we launch in the future will be very aligned with our mission.
Who are your design icons?
While obvious, it has to be Joseph Joseph. I truly believe the best businesses are the ones where you think, “why did I not think of that?”, and with each Joseph Joseph product you get that feeling. Their ability to improve existing products through simple and highly innovative design is incredible. I also have huge admiration for it being a British company by two brothers, one who is design minded while the other is business minded. Being able to show the power of putting very different skill sets together to achieve something amazing is very inspirational.
If you could design anything in the World what would it be?
I think the products that most excite us, and the ones we would most like to design, are products that offer such value and are so useful that they make their way into people’s everyday lives. This is definitely what we are trying to achieve with the Chilly’s Bottle and any future products we produce.