In one of the heaviest beer consuming countries in the world, three friends created a gadget that makes the experience a bit more fun. BOx, a smart bottle opener that you can use with one hand, sends a message to your buddies every time you open a bottle.
This is the story of how four founders, a Vietnamese-American architect, a Swiss Engineer, a Vietnamese-Swiss artist, and an Lebanese marketer, crafted “the Apple of bottle openers”.
I sat down with Karim Choueiri, one of the founders of BOx, for some hot pizza and a cold beer to see why this could be the coolest gift this season, if not the most heartwarming story of passion.
How did you get the idea to start BOx, the world’s first smart bottle opener?
We were looking for new ways to chat with each other. Instead of texting or taking out of our phones. We came up with the idea of the “smart opener” or a conversation opener. It’s a collaboration with students from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology.
We love the idea of chatting with actions. You can connect any action to it. Pull from a database of images or texts (e.g. good morning (time) from Saigon (location)).
And all of this is one-click. We’ll never make it complicated. BOx and its accompanying app will never replace your WhatsApp.
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What was it like releasing the product on Kickstarter?
In May 2015, we tested interest by releasing our project on Kickstarter. It’s the easiest way to reach a large global audience. 90% of our Kickstarter orders were from Europe and North America. We set our initial goal for $15,000. Within 10 days, we received $20,000 from nearly 400 backers and 1,000 pre-orders. Soon after, media outlets from the Verge to Huffington Post came knocking.
What’s the connection of BOx to Vietnam?
It’s 100% assembled in Vietnam, with most of the materials also made in Vietnam. Especially the handcrafted wood. We even collaborated with a local university to get the tech right.
Can you tell us some of the future plans for BOx?
We’re focused on e-commerce sales, but we’re open to stocking our items in cool gadget shops.
We’re in contact with a few suppliers, for example SoNice. We’re also looking for distributors that make sense for our model. On the finances side, Kickstarter got us halfway. We’re self-funded for the rest of the capital. We’re a Swiss-based company and set up to take investors, starting from January.
We decided to start with the bottle opener. But we’ll be brainstorming new, simple Internet of Things (IoT) products next year. Things that involve a shared moment.
What’s the competition like for your type of product? How are you standing out?
Right now, we don’t have any direct competitor. We have a lot of partnership opportunities. For example, bar owners can use it to see who’s opening the most bottles. Our next project is to optimize the product and the app.
What are some fun facts about BOx?
- The gadget is 100% handmade and assembled in Vietnam. The real wood handle alone requires hours of work.
- We didn’t just come up with the design. We developed 50 prototypes and we’re still refining it.
- We sell online, but we’re always behind the scenes working to improve the experience. It takes us less than an hour to respond to an email.
- Last but not least, it’s $35 including worldwide shipping!
The product is on sale now and delivers worldwide from Switzerland. There’s a 10% discount during the holiday season (code: Bchristmas).
Edited by Hao Tran.