It’s like a Keurig machine for making cocktails
KITCHENER — What Keurig did for coffee, Bryan Fedorak and Jason Neevel want to do for cocktails.
The two entrepreneurs made a machine called Bartesian that produces six different cocktails. It works much the same as the popular coffee maker. Premixed cups containing ingredients are slipped into the machine, and with the press of a button, combined with liquor to make a cocktail.
More than a year ago they surveyed a lot of people about the machine.
“We iterated the model, learned that people were actually quite interested in it,” Fedorak said.
The survey results, known as “customer discovery” in startup lingo, surprised them. Initially, they thought their market was young people. But they discovered the most interest among 25- to 55-year-olds.
“They are usually outgoing, like to have fun, like to host parties,” Fedorak said.
After graduating from the University of Waterloo with a degree in mechanical engineering, Fedorak did his master’s in business administration at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Neevel and Fedorak were in the same engineering class, and started working on Bartesian in May 2014. They incorporated in October 2014, and had a rough prototype built in time to apply for a hardware incubator in Shenzhen, China — Hax Accelerator, formerly Haxlr8r.
Bartesian is the fourth hardware startup from this area to go through Hax Accelerator in China. The others are Voltera, which is making a 3D printer that produces circuit boards; Palette, which has created a series of analogue controls to produce an easy-to-use interface for repetitive computer tasks; and Avidbot, which makes robots that clean floors.
“China was an awesome experience,” Fedorak said. “We were able to prototype much more quickly, and less expensively.”
During their four month stay in China, the Bartesian partners completed four versions of the prototype. Now, a little more than a month after their return, they are launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 to cover production costs for the first 300 machines.
“We are super excited about that,” Fedorak said.
The Bartesian machines have an early-bird price of $249. Once those are gone, the price rises to $299. The short-term strategy is to begin production with the funds from the Kickstarter campaign. The medium-term strategy is to sell the machines online, and to pursue promising discussions with selected retailers, such as Brook Stone in the U.S.
The Bartesian has four glass cylinders that hold gin, vodka, rum and tequila. There is a reservoir for water as well. Fedorak and Neevel worked with food scientists to produce the small, disposable cups that contain all of the non-alcoholic ingredients for each cocktail.
There are six cocktail mixes available for the first product launch. The first three are classics — cosmopolitans, margaritas and sex on the beach. Also included are three custom-designed cocktails for the Bartesian — uptown rocks, Bartesian breeze and zest martini.
“As we continue to grow, we will be adding more,” Fedorak said.
The cocktail recipes were designed by “cocktail deeva” Dee Brun. Food scientists in Guelph turned the recipes into ingredients that are packed into the disposal cups. The cups will cost about $20 for 12 cocktails.
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