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#85 Liquid Hardware – Custom Vacuum Insulated Water Bottles & Coffee Mugs With A Magnetic Lid. Founder Steve Kitto Sharing His Story

Liquid Hardware logo

Liquid Hardware

Liquid Hardware is here to keep your lid on lock and your beverages cold or hot

Never lose your lid with Liquid Hardware

To find out more behind how Liquid Hardware got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews Liquid Hardware founder, Steve Kitto

More about the episode…

Josh sits down with Liquid Hardware founder Steve Kitto. Liquid Hardware is a water bottle manufacturer that offers a easy to use, insulated water bottle with a sleek design. It was simple scenario of losing the lid to a water bottle, that drove Steve Kitto to rush to a solution and, having a fully functional woodworking shop, he had the resources to get started on R & D (and did just that!). After finally nailing the perfect product, Liquid Hardware turned to offer customizable designs for small businesses or any passerby with a creative spark!

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Show Notes

  • What is Liquid Hardware all about?
    • “We are a vacuum insulated water bottle/coffee mug container company and we have a patent magnetic lid tethering system where the lid comes off the bottle and you can stick it to the side of the otherwise, non-magnetic container…”
  • What made you decide to create this magnetic lid to attach to your water bottle?
    • “…At the time I was living in idaho and I had a really bumpy dirt road that led up to our house. I had a regular water bottle and the lid came off and it rolled out under the pedals of my truck and I immediately thought ‘why isn’t it magnetic’…”
  • Were you always tinkering and working with your hands as a kid?
    • “Yeah I was. I can remember taking apart my dad’s radios. My brother and I, just disassembling them and putting them on a 2×4 and trying to figure out how they work…”
  • Did you know from a young age that you always wanted to start your own business?
    • “Yeah, I think so…I worked for Fish and Game, and I worked for Snow King and a number of places. As soon as I could I ended up starting a furniture business…I just love that, I love the freedom to work as long as I want to work…”
  • What was the prototyping process in developing your product?
    • “It really was a prototyping process because I was basically getting single walled bottles on the market and hacking them apart…and I’d take a piece of metal and attached it to the bottle and do whatever I needed to do to attach it to the lid…and all at the same time, we were doing a lot of research on that end and realized no one had patented the idea…”

  • Did you keep your day job while you built Liquid Hardware?
    • I was still making furniture at the time and my wifes a school teacher so she had that time…my parents had passed away unexpectedly at a young age so we ended up with some money but, I was able to fun the company and keep going through some of this hardship…I have them to thank in a big way…My dad actually knew about this idea before he passed away and he was very for. And part of this thing is I have a disease called PKD which is Polycystic kidney disease and my father had that as well. Part of it is we’re trying to give some money to research to PKD and you have to drink a lot of water as a result so maybe that’s why I got into it…”
  • What has it been like trying to keep sustainability in mind when trying to build Liquid Hardware?
    • “We’re basically making a product that we hope people use for a long time. I made a decision when we started with this newest manufacture that we were going to make our bottles with a thicker stainless steel than our competitors are using because I didn’t want it to dent and I wanted people to use it for a long time…”
  • What does an average day look like at Liquid Hardware?
    • “…I’d say 90% of what we do is for other companies, so we co brand our bottles for them…we’ll work on the logo and do those production runs as they come in. That’s a lot of what’s going on here and then, the team here, Chris, or Myself, somebody will be handling outreach for new contacts and sending out samples…”
  • What has been one of the hardest things about starting Liquid Hardware?
    • “I think just getting the word out there. There’s a lot of competing brands out there. There’s a lot of competing brands out there…That’s starting to turn tide on us, people are starting to get it. On the manufacturing side, I can’t tell you how difficult that was. That was a choice I made, I had opportunity to make investment and I turned it down because I wanted to get it right and go at my own pace…”
  • What has the growth been like since you launched?
    • “It’s taken a while to get the traction but we’re doubling and growing, I think this year we’re going to do three times what we did last year. We’re definitely in that growth stage but, we’ve got some really great customers that reorder from us fairly large orders several times a year…”

Liquid Hardware Water Bottles

  • What would you say is one of your greatest fears and how do you manage that?
    • “You gotta be fearless in a way…Maybe from being in business before this, being a furniture maker, making custom furniture for people and, not knowing how it’s going to turn out every time, it’s helped me along that path…Making sure I can pay my employees, growing, and that kind of thing, that’s something that’s always in the back of my mind…”
  • What advice would you give to someone that wanted to start a business in the outdoor space?
    • “Go for it. At some point you need to just go for it and take that leap of faith because if you don’t you’ll just sit around and think…Kickstarter is a great place to start, you end up building a nice customer base. I still have customers that buy from us today from both of our Kickstarter campaigns…”
  • Where do you see Liquid Hardware headed into the future?
    • “Just to keep growing and to keep coming up with innovative products which we’re working on now. And being able to employ a bunch more people locally in the Teton Valley…”
  • What’s the best part about running Liquid Hardware?
    • “You know what’s really cool? Seeing a bottle out in the wild. Sometimes my daughter or someone will spot someone with a bottle…Just coming up with different ideas and the whole patent process is really interesting to me. That whole side of the business, the design side and creativity side is really interesting…”


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