Nothing signals the end of winter like enjoying a drink in the sun. While we in the Pacific Northwest still have months of rain to endure, these indecisive spring days present us with rare opportunities to dine and imbibe outside—opportunities we are not prone to waste.
However, the outdoor dining and drinking experience is not without its frustrations. Chris DeWald, for one, has seen too many picnics and beach outings marred by beer bottles, wine glasses, and cocktails that have fallen victim to clumsy hands and feet. Finally, he decided to get up off his lounge chair and do something about it.
A graduate of Portland State University and father of two, Chris enjoys the Great Outdoors, and even moreso with a refreshment in hand. Here, Chris talks to OEN about his invention, the Bevie Pro, and how he’s looking to get it to the masses:
What was the spark that inspired the birth of Bevie Pro?
The Bevie Pro was an idea I had on several occasions while out trying to enjoy a drink. The last straw was during a trip to Las Vegas, where it was 105 degrees outside. I had no place to put my $10 pool beer, so I sat it down for a few seconds while I put sun lotion on. When I returned to my beverage, it was already warm and undrinkable from sitting in the sand for that short amount of time. I thought, there has to be a better way!
What problem does your business solve?
First and foremost, it allows the user a ‘hands free’ experience that lets you read, eat, or surf the web on your phone without the balancing act of dealing with your beverage. This also allows you to keep your drink off of the ground to avoid accidental spillage or dirt and sand covered containers that render your beverage undrinkable.
The other aspect is the product’s unique patent-pending ability to hold stemmed wine glasses. The top part of the wine lid can be custom-branded for a creative and new way for wineries and other businesses to promote their brands.
How did you take your product from idea to reality?
Our product went from an idea at the pool to a drawing on a notepad. We then found a basic cup holder, made some modifications and added Velcro straps to attach it to an armchair. It wasn’t pretty, but the concept worked!
We then built our next prototype out of everyday household items. Duct tape, a cutting board, backpack hardware, Velcro, and a lot of glue! This product is still dear to our hearts!
Next, we found a local CAD guy to draw up our idea and make quality prototypes using 3D printers. After several attempted designs (and thousands of dollars), we finally got to where we are today.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
I really enjoy the freedom and creativity I get to exercise with my company. It’s MY vision and the work I put into it is my own. This mental aspect really helps when I’m putting in 16-hour days!
What has been the biggest surprise in your entrepreneurial experience to date?
I’ve always heard that when preparing for a business and a project like mine, I should double the amount of time and double the amount of money you think it’s going to take. To my surprise, this advice has been spot on.
As an entrepreneur, what keeps you up at night?
For me it’s the constant thoughts going through my head. When you’re in the middle of a start-up, you wear a lot of hats and many of the tasks you need to perform will take some research and time to implement. It can be hard to put the “closed” sign up in your mind.
What is your #1 piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur?
Do your homework, know your product/industry inside and out, and have a plan in place to take it to market. A lot of people have great ideas or products but have no idea on how to get them to retail.
What song best describes your entrepreneurial journey?
Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
Imagine your venture becomes wildly successful. What does that look like?
Our market plan is to sell direct and online to start, and then eventually find a distribution network to get the Bevie Pro out to the masses. If you want to go big you have to step away and find a network that can get it to retail all over the world. Once successful, my wife Stacey and I would like to start our own foundation to give back to our community.
Can you describe your typical day?
My wife Stacey has taken on our business endeavor full time, and I still work in the corporate world. When I punch the clock at 5 pm, I then go into ‘entrepreneur mode.’ It’s been a lot of long hours, but has been very rewarding personally and it’s also helped me grow professionally. It will be very gratifying to eventually be my own boss!
What’s your favorite local business and why?
Being in the beverage industry for going on 20 years, I really enjoy seeing the small breweries in Oregon flourish—going from being brewed in a garage with grassroots marketing to major players in the beer category. Breweries like Deschutes, Widmer, Ninkasi, Boneyard, 10 Barrel, etc. My admiration list is long!
Any other tidbits or fun facts to share?
We’re currently seeking support for our Kickstarter campaign. Join in the fun and share with your friends!