The Evolution of a Good Idea: from Concept to Company – Ep14

RemUV - Braden Reiber

Ever had a good product idea?  Of course you have.

Whenever you identify a need or a problem and a new way to solve or fulfill it, there is always a potential product in the making.  As it has been said: “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Braden Reiber is an inventor who stumbled upon an idea, which in turn turned into a better idea that then eventually evolved into a business: RemUV, a company that develops small devices that can clean water using the power of the sun.  In this podcast, Braden shares his story of how he came up with his innovative idea and turned it into a product that could help those around the world easily clean their water supplies.

Listen in to our latest Born to Design podcast as Braden discusses all of the twists and turns of being an entrepreneur and building a new product and company from scratch.

Learn more about Braden’s fascinating new product here: remuvball.com

Also, be sure to check out all of the Born to Design podcasts, and subscribe below so you will never miss an episode:

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If you are an entrepreneur, like Braden, or looking to start your own business, and would like to use SOLIDWORKS for designing innovative products as Braden does, please note that we offer special pricing with our SOLIDWORKS entrepreneurship program.  Just go to solidworks.com/entrepreneur.

 

AI Assisted Transcription

Braden Reiber 0:00
We started looking into disaster relief and aid for just shipping bottled water and the costs are astronomical. And it’s always

Cliff Medling 0:06
it’s amazing yeah.

Braden Reiber 0:07
You take something like our device that weighs in at 35 grams and you start shipping that with its own bottle in a disaster scenario then you give the power to the individual to collect their own water treat their own water when and where ever they need instead of having to come to a central hub and you know, get cases in cases of water just to last a week typical person in disaster scenario probably about two liters a day so last 50 days.

Cliff Medling 0:32
Hi there. This is the SOLIDWORKS Born to Design podcast a collection of inspiring stories about those who create, build, invent and engineer new ideas and actual new products. And by the way, they all use SOLIDWORKS. I’m your host Cliff Medling and this episode is titled The evolution of a good idea from concept to company. I’m talking with Braden Reiber an inventor who stumbled upon an idea which turned into a better idea that eventually evolved into his business

remUV is a company that develops small devices that can clean water using the power of the sun. Bradenshares a story of how he came up with his innovative idea and turned it into a product that could help those around the world easily clean their water supplies. Let’s jump right into the story.

Braden Reiber 1:18
The development path for this was kind of an interesting thing. I started with this roof carrier design. It was a roof carrier box that was designed to air out your athletic gear. So it was invented in the front fence and in the back. This is my first patent. And so we we were developing this and this drying out of your gear aspect and then we

Cliff Medling 1:36
Kind of like hockey equipment stuff,

Braden Reiber 1:38
lacrosse pads, hockey gear, ski gear,

Cliff Medling 1:40
stinky stuff.

Braden Reiber 1:41
Yeah, you know what in the car. I was in college at the time, and I spent a couple years in an apartment with no garage. And so I would put my lacrosse gear in my bathroom with the vent fan on and that only got halfway there. And so then I would drive down the road to practice and I’d be holding my gloves out the window to get it all the rest of us and so there’s gotta be a better way to do this.

And I came up with this roof carrier. And that’s where it all started. So came up with the roof carrier idea. My dad who works with IP lawyers all day he does expert witness head hunting for them, told him on the phone one day and he said, don’t you tell a soul about this? I was like, really? He’s like, yeah, I think you got something here, man. Let’s work on this.

Cliff Medling 2:16
So it’s funny. I have three kids and I keep telling them to come up with great ideas and whenever they come up with what I tell them exactly that. This is great. Don’t tell anybody.

Braden Reiber 2:26
Don’t you say Oh, yeah, he’s like this. This got patent potentials. So yeah, just kind of spun up from there. We went to the we applied for provisional and I worked on the concept for about a year and my I then rented a garage at this garageless apartment, did a little bit of r&d in there and develop the first working prototype for that carrier box. And yeah, then we

Cliff Medling 2:45
it’s always interesting how these ideas flow. It’s like there’s always an initial idea and then a better idea comes out of it

Braden Reiber 2:51
a couple of pivot points.

Cliff Medling 2:52
Yeah,

Braden Reiber 2:52
We pivoted I think twice in the whole scheme of things. So we went from this carrier to this like track system for it and then from that, we found out that the LEDs became price point available for consumer grade product pivot to that the worldwide water markets, I mean, weigh that against the roof carrier market, it was no brainer.

And so the ball, this water disinfection device evolved from that first product. I was thinking through the problem of how do I get the light to penetrate inside of escape or a boot or a helmet or a glove. And so I came up with this LED ball that you would just drop into those items, and it would actually bring the light from the outside inside. And we get that same effect.

Through the research of the technology and learning more about UV and UV light in general just realized that there’s this huge application in water. And there’s like a light went off, an ipaphany and we pivoted in the company direction and we went from the roof carrier device to this water disinfection device and haven’t looked back since. It came about first as a cool consumer product. And then we realized the kind of wider reach and implications of disaster relief humanitarian aid 2.7 billion people worldwide that don’t have proper access to proper sanitation and water. So we saw this really long felt worldwide need for a device that could be truly portable to generate potable water. And so we started developing this in regards to that as well.

Just I mean, we want to, we want to create this robust consumer market to so that we can be here long term for the humanitarian aid and disaster relief side. And we started looking into disaster relief and aid for just shipping bottled water, and the costs are astronomical. And it’s always

Cliff Medling 4:22
It’s amazing. Yeah, it’s amazing.

Braden Reiber 4:24
Yeah. So you take something like our device that weighs in at 35 grams, and you start shipping that with its own bottle in a disaster scenario, then you give the power to the individual to collect their own water, treat their own water, when and where ever they need it. So instead of having to come to a central hub, and you know, get cases in cases of water just to last a week, you give them something in our charge, the battery capacity, and this is 120 liters. So typical person in disaster scenario, probably about two liters a day. So last about 50 days.

Cliff Medling 4:52
Yeah, that’s great. I mean, we have worked with a company called field ready who helps with disaster political disaster areas, and they go on site to try to not just solve a problem, but teach people how to solve their own problems.

Braden Reiber 5:04
yeah

Cliff Medling 5:04
So this this is a way to do it. Right?

Braden Reiber 5:06
Yeah. Yeah,

Cliff Medling 5:06
To help them, you know, instead of right, shipping them containers of water, which still, you know, drink once and create more, you know, waste.

Braden Reiber 5:16
Exactly when it’s, I mean, even further than that, you know, the waist is definitely a big aspect. But you have people because of the mad scramble, that usually happens in a disaster, everybody wants to hoard and they want as much as they can, because that that life saving water or food becomes the absolute commodity in in necessity for them to have so shortages everywhere. And you know, not everybody has access to it.

So there were articles after the disaster in Puerto Rico, there are articles about people pulling off drainage ditch water and saving it and drinking it without really properly treating it and they were eating flushing diseases and die. So I mean, you know, you think in a place where America is giving great humanitarian aid or we should be and you have people dying because they’re collecting water and not properly treating it when there’s access to it for others. It’s just kind of mind boggling that that goes on.

Cliff Medling 6:00
You’re definitely on to something great. And this is a great, I think I can see it.

Braden Reiber 6:05
Yeah. So this is actually an interesting spot to be in as an r&d company, you UVC tech, you UVC light has been known and been around in the industry for a long time. Typical, you know, your H VAC systems, water purification, a lot of application and medical actually, you know, hospitals and

Cliff Medling 6:21
that make sense,

Braden Reiber 6:22
Disinfecting terminal cleans for ORs that kind of thing. What’s interesting about the technology now is that it’s actually evolved into the LED space. Previously, it’s been mercury bulb technologies kind of outdated at this point in 2014, the Nobel Prize was one for the development of deep UV LEDs. And so that’s what we’re actually using now is this new emerging technology, commercially viable product has really only been on the market for about two years. So

Cliff Medling 6:46
Could you explain what that you know, for those of us don’t know what that technology is what it was.

Braden Reiber 6:51
So ultraviolet, C spectrum light is below the 280 nanometer wavelength range. So it’s anything from that point below, and so what it is is actually germicidal in nature. So the wavelength of the light is so small that it actually passes through the cell wall through the nucleus and shatters parts of the DNA creating what’s called a pirating dimer on the DNA. So if you imagine this helical ladder, right for the DNA shatters the the chain right in the middle, and then those groupings, those base pairs actually group off to the side and create a dimer, which means that the the proteins no longer replicable.

So this is all the really heady science stuff. But in essence, what it means is that the cell itself becomes inert, it can no longer reproduce or replicate proteins for cell division or for its natural life cycle. So the cell eventually just dies off. So you know, there’s no filtration or extraction for our technology is literally just a degradation of the cell and kills it off. And then

Cliff Medling 7:42
you get a little more protein in your water.

Braden Reiber 7:44
Yeah, becomes dead at that point.

So it’s safe to drink

Yeah, haha

Cliff Medling 7:50
Exactly. Well, I mean, I don’t I’m not familiar but that’s it’s it’s fascinating technology has, it’s amazing where it could go, I guess.

Braden Reiber 7:55
Yeah, who thought the power of light can actually help us, you know, cure disease and do all sorts of things for health and, you know, longevity of the human body. It’s pretty cool stuff so that the technology like I said, it kind of evolved from the mercury bulb discovery of UV light is over a century old. So it’s been around but these new LEDs have enabled us to create new form factors in the technology that were previously unachievable.

So you know, we’ve got this handheld device, the entire package with the external battery pack is three inches. Our main device, I brought it here, it’s about an inch and three quarters in diameter. It’s like the size of a ping pong ball, golf ball fits in the palm of your hand. 30 grams, so it’s super light for applications like backpacking and travel, you just pop that in your backpack and you go a lot of the other tech out there is a little cumbersome. Big 67 inches long for some of the devices or a big old bottle cap that’s super heavy. So the LEDs have really allowed us to scale down the tech and make it pocket size portable, handheld.

Cliff Medling 8:55
Exactly. So you were in college, you really want to do something. Where did that come from? Where in the back your brain decided I was it wasn’t the fact that you wanted to start your business or the fact that you wanted to really do something. I mean, what’s what was your passion? Where did that come from?

Braden Reiber 9:10
Five year old brain. Five year old brain if you asked me and I was standing here this tall it would have been either inventor or aeronautical engineer. But somehow I knew how to say it.

Cliff Medling 9:18
Not professional lacrosse player?

Braden Reiber 9:20
I was okay. I don’t think I would have ever been that skill level. That’s uh,

Cliff Medling 9:23
Well usually you know, five years old. I don’t want to be a professional sport athlete or what not.

Braden Reiber 9:28
Yeah, no astronaut or sports athlete For me it was inventor.

Cliff Medling 9:31
You really wanted to be an inventor.

Braden Reiber 9:33
Yeah, it was the kids taking my toys apart and building new toys out of them. If my dad right here, he’s got a bunch of stories about finding me with a bunch of D-Cell batteries taped together, looking up at him going I need more power.

Cliff Medling 9:43
And that’s that’s great.

Braden Reiber 9:46
Yeah, so that’s that’s kind of where it’s been up from. I was always tinkering and pulling stuff apart. And nothing in the house is off limits for me all the tools in the garage and all that kind of stuff. Were fair game. So I spend a lot of my time growing up, you know, designing and building something new every day. Playing in the garage and putting something together with my hands.

Cliff Medling 10:04
I love that I remember my my mother had her hair dryer and it was like smoking up because there’s so much hair and I’m like well I’ll just take it apart she’s like you’ll never get that back together and I did and I’m like yeah, it was pretty simple mechanism you know it’s it’s a fan and a heating unit with a few screws early was that bad. And uh so

Braden Reiber 10:22
You know the the self taught aspect of it growing up and kind of like you said tinkering with the hair dryer and pulling it apart and learning that kind of stuff. That was all the the burgeoning initiation of this for me in school kind of really reaffirmed it and then starting this company is brought it even further.

Cliff Medling 10:37
So what was the next step? Once you decide you want to build this? You obviously had to pull some friends together some people together to help you. You know, I mean, you know, you’re a designer, but now you’re the president, CEO of a company. So yeah, that’s got to be.

Braden Reiber 10:49
Yeah, quite the learning curve. Yes. So yeah, we spun up we did the pivot from the carrier device and that that kind of was the first few legs down the path so to speak. But pivoting to this water disinfection device to pivoting to remUV it kind of started in more of a legal fashion. Oddly, we had been looking for some startup capital and realized that we really needed to get kind of our legal formation down and and you know, our ducks in the line, so to speak that way.

So we started looking for legal counsel. And then the team kind of built from there, we started looking for experts to help us and to basically bolster our position with investors and show that we had a robust team of, you know, brain trust, so to speak. And so actually, one of my dad’s experts came on and he’s an expert in photonics and lasers and LEDs, and you found them through my dad’s expert witness work.

And so we added him to the team and then through an old business contact, I added our other partner and it just kind of kept growing from there. And then the family friend who actually funded us and he’s our first angel investor, and he came into town I picked him up from the airport, just not even thinking about pitching the idea or anything and just pure happenstance picked him up asked me how I was doing what I was working on.

I got an email A month later saying, hey, I want to invest. This sounds like it’s got legs. And so that was our first startup capital that enabled me to go out and find our engineering contract workers that would do now that we have working on the team and on the project with me, so I’m mechanical base, but I’ve outsourced for all of our electrical design and firmware development. And we work with a local operation and in Colorado up in Lafayette called clear blue engineering and their soup to nuts. They take us from you know, sketch on the napkin, developing the prototype all the way through full scale manufacturing, distribution, inventory logistics,

Cliff Medling 12:32
That’s awesome. That’s awesome that those resources are out there today.

Braden Reiber 12:36
Yeah,

Cliff Medling 12:37
You know, you know, wish they had Shark Tank on TV when I was when I was younger. I had these crazy ideas.

Braden Reiber 12:43
So yeah, it’s quite the process, and I never would have, you know, it’s funny. I was telling my dad when I first started this thing, I was like, yeah, it will be will be on the shelf in six months.

Cliff Medling 12:52
Wow

Braden Reiber 12:52
Little did I know, year and a half later, almost two years later. We’re just in our regulatory efforts now and so back full circle to the very first question, what would I have hold younger me.

Cliff Medling 13:00
Yeah,

Braden Reiber 13:01
Stick with it. Don’t ever give up. And that’s it’s been reaffirmed by my family, my friends, my dad, mainly he was he was the one who said you don’t ever quit anything, but I would just go back and reaffirm that to myself because it is it’s that stick to it ness. It’s the guts to keep going and keep searching on most entrepreneurs have great ideas. A lot of them fail because they don’t, they don’t push and they don’t keep at it. And then that drive it’s it’s a yo yo roller coaster.

It’s up and down. I have days where I’m down on the dirt like God, really? Am I doing the right thing here making decisions? Yeah. And I have days where I’m on top of the world and it’s like, oh, man, everything is lining up. This is going so smoothly. How am I so lucky. So it’s it’s getting through the low times so that you can ride that high risk

Cliff Medling 13:42
Right I think it’s true. America is a great place to start your own business, be an entrepreneur, but America also has a lot of legal, legal red tape you have to get through so but some necessary probably, you know, some maybe not maybe I shouldn’t say that uh but it’s only my opinion. That’s not SOLIDWORKS opinion.

Yes, but it’s it’s still a. That’s great. Well, I think you’re onto something by that. I agree you should definitely stick with it. I look forward to seeing where this goes and where you take it. I think it’ll be. I think I’ll hear good things about Braden in the future. Yeah,

Braden Reiber 14:13
I hope so. Fingers crossed. haha

Cliff Medling 14:14
Yeah. I think that’s great invention stick with it. It’s taking a long and you know, those, these are good things for people to hear.

Braden Reiber 14:20
Yeah, the other. The other piece of advice that I would give is take your time in building your team. I started off with just kind of this idea in my head. And then, through some really good guidance from my father and from some of the other people in my life, I brought on very specific team members for very specific purposes. I’m the youngest guy on our team by probably about 25 years. So I tried to build this quote unquote brain trust, as I mentioned earlier, of just experts in their field, people who had done it before I was a you know, new entrepreneur, no idea what the heck I was doing and where I should go next, or what I should do or what’s you know, who do I need to bring on and so I found some lifelong entrepreneurs and people who had just started multiple companies.

Found some tech experts who understood the technology I was trying to develop. And I took my time cultivating these relationships with these people and then bringing them on. And so I would say that as a bit of advice for any entrepreneurs, make sure that the team you have is is what you need it to be, and and take your time and doing it to look around because there’s plenty of programs. There’s all sorts of stuff.

We were talking about accelerators earlier, and there’s plenty of amazing accelerators out there. And you guys with the entrepreneurial program through SOLIDWORKS,

Cliff Medling 15:24
Oh yeah we should touch on that. Yeah,

Braden Reiber 15:26
Haha maybe we talk about that.

Yeah. Just a little bit. It’s good to throw that in there. So tell us about the you know, using the SOLIDWORKS entrepreneur program, and how that worked for you.

So yeah, it was fantastic. The program has been amazing. I when I purchased the base level SOLIDWORKS and then got access to everything else to the entrepreneurial program, which has allowed us to do some of the really high end, digital real life renderings present some of that in some of our media and marketing collateral. Just all the tools, all the tools

Cliff Medling 15:52
Did you guys use simulation at all or ?

Braden Reiber 15:54
A lot of thermal stimulation. That’s a big aspect with ours because it’s such a small form factor you know palm of your hand yet we’ve got a lot of a lot electronics packed in there,

Cliff Medling 16:03
Right thats true

Braden Reiber 16:03
Being able to bleed off the heat and make sure that this thing doesn’t die on us midstream. So to speak on it.

That’s great. That’s great.

So yeah, it said simulations been great. We’ve done some impact testing and all that kind of stuff with through simulation as well, making sure that our design is robust enough to chuck it at a rock wall, pick it up and still use it. So.

Cliff Medling 16:20
So how did you find your engineers for your team?

Braden Reiber 16:23
Yeah, yeah. So like I said, there’s a little bit of a process, the technology experts that I brought on that I mentioned my dad’s connection, he kind of got me going on the idea of bringing in outside help to help design the prototypes. And to get us down the road to a shelf ready product. I went out and just started Googling people in the local area. I realized I wanted to find somebody who was in Colorado, that’s where I’m based and based in Denver, and so I wanted to find somebody that I could drive to.

In case there was ever something I needed to be on site for, you know, it’s really tough to fly to California and go to Silicon Valley. If I’m in Denver. It’s a bit of a planning so yeah, so I started looking around on online for just manufacturing operations. Anybody who is doing electrical fab PCB fab, because a lot of our stuff is electronics, I knew I could probably hack some of the mechanical without any extra help. And I have but the other big firmware development PCB development was my big look.

So I found a bunch of different operations about 10. I’ll start with about 15 whittled it down to 10, that I actually went out for first meetings with to kind of gauge and see who I wanted to sit with. And then I went out for quotes from five in there to down to just one from there. And it really came down for me to the caliber of the partnership that was being presented. You know, all of them had very similar capabilities. They could all do everything I was looking for, but it was it was finding the right fit and the partnership side.

Did they want to be more of a partner or just a contractor,

Cliff Medling 17:41
right

Braden Reiber 17:41
Or the client relationship? Or was it more of like they’re invested,

Cliff Medling 17:45
They’re invested in the product absolutely.

This is great advice. This is really good.

Braden Reiber 17:46
And they have it Yeah, clearly has been amazing. They’ve bent over backwards for me in ways I would have never expected a vendor to ever do every aspect of the project, from billing through design through everything. It’s been amazing. So

Thanks.

Cliff Medling 17:59
Maybe I’ll start my own company.

Braden Reiber 18:01
haha

Cliff Medling 18:01
I’m a little late in the game. I’m counting on my kids now.

Braden Reiber 18:04
There’s another bit of advice. It’s never too late, never too late. You’ll be with your kids someday. That’s my dad, me, were partners.

Cliff Medling 18:10
That’s what I that’s what I hope for man.

Thanks for listening today. And remember that if you are an entrepreneur, or looking to start your own business and would like to use SOLIDWORKS for designing innovative products his Braden does. Please note that we offer special pricing with our SOLIDWORKS entrepreneurship program, just go to SOLIDWORKS.com/entrepreneur.

Also to learn more about Braden’s business go to remUV.com that’s remUV UV as an UV light and learn about these innovative new products. We will be back again soon with more great Born to Design podcast at SOLIDWORKS.com/podcast or wherever podcasts are readily available. Until then, keep innovating. I really hope that what you heard today is the spot you If you enjoyed it, please head over to iTunes search for the Born to Design podcast and leave a five star review so that this podcast will be recommended to more people, helping us expand the Born to Design community. Thank you

Cliff Medling

Cliff Medling

Cliff Medling is a Senior Marketing Manager at SolidWorks and the host for the Born to Design Podcast.