When Jack McNamara, WCAS ’15, brought his Kickstick mini bottle idea to Bacardi, the people he met with had a lot more questions for him than he had anticipated. “It was more of an idea than anything else,” McNamara said.
The idea for his liquid-filled straws originally started out as something to be marketed to vitamin companies. The idea was to put powdered vitamins in a container with a screw-off lid on either side, mix the vitamins up with some water, and sip through the container.
After talking over the idea with his mother and brother, however, McNamara decided that there was more of a market for his idea in the liquor industry. “It’s the best industry for it,” McNamara said. “That’s where a lot of the money is.” In addition to the financial potential, McNamara said that there are similar products already designed for vitamins, but not for liquor.
He started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the molds the company would use before cancelling the campaign on Saturday. It had earned $6,228 out of his $10,000 goal and was trending toward over $16,000.
He has decided to sell the patent for the Kickstick rather than try to market the product himself.
“I cancelled it because I realized that the Kickstarter had already helped me prove that this concept was sound,” he said. “I don’t need a manufacturer to sell a patent … I am going to sell the patent to any of the beverage industries interested.”
McNamara said that he will be returning all of the money that backers had originally pledged but is still grateful for their support.
“Thanks to all the generous backers, I think this product is ready to go,” he said. “Kickstick would never have gotten this far without them.”
The Kickstick is reusable and recyclable and holds the standard 50 milliliters required for mini bottles. To make sure he hit that minimum number, McNamara changed the shape from a cylinder to a longer, skinnier cube. The twist-off caps on either end have dice on them, and McNamara is working on a connector piece that would make it even easier to mix drinks or take shots with a chaser.
“The whole idea started off with something extremely basic, and now it’s going off on a whole array of directions,” McNamara said. “I tried to make it as fun a product as possible.”
Although the Kickstick can be used for taking shots or mixing drinks and powdered beverages, McNamara’s focus is on replacing mini bottles with something more functional.
“From what I’ve read, a lot of the liquor companies use the mini bottles as a marketing tool,” McNamara said. “My idea was to separate my product from the rest of them to create more functionality and efficiency. It would be cool to have a product that serves more purposes.”
In addition, he said, the sleek and modern design simply looks more interesting. “I’d buy the one that looks different, the coolest,” he said.
After McNamara dropped out of Colgate University to play professional hockey in Europe, he had more time to dedicate to working on the Kickstick. His first team was based in Denmark, and the Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship accepted him and his idea. He began researching the patent process in Slovakia and eventually had a few prototypes made while in Denmark, which were featured in his Kickstarter campaign video.
“It was kind of a perfect plan for me,” McNamara said. “The project was a great way for me to keep my mind off the game. You only play hockey two hours a day.”
McNamara said that he has not officially added anyone else to his design and marketing team, preferring to carry out his venture solo. He has, however, integrated as many comments and suggestions as possible.
“I’ve had a lot of mentors,” he said. “For the video, the product, the website, sure it says my name, but everyone was involved. I tried to take as many ideas from other people to make one cool product.”
After he had what he considered the final design in prototype form, McNamara found a company willing to make Kicksticks. Originally, McNamara had planned on marketing a finished product to liquor companies, which would then pre-fill the Kicksticks with their product and place them in liquor stores. He anticipated the products to cost about $1 or $2, the standard for mini bottles.
Now that he is selling the patent instead of a physical product, however, he is hoping to penetrate other industries such as supplements or energy drinks. The seemingly unlimited options and flexibility that Kicksticks provide is reflective of McNamara’s creative process as well.
“I love the design aspect of the whole thing and creating new products and innovating,” he said. “It’s fun to find those loopholes.”