Growing Companies

While Brian Hock trained for the Louisville Ironman in 2010, he had an idea for a way to stay hydrated along the way. That idea evolved into Simple Hydration, a start-up company with an innovative product that is being manufactured in the US.

Hock, 43, knew of three ways to keep hydrated while running; backpacks that hold bladders of liquid but are cumbersome, belts that hold water bottles but chafe and don’t stay in position, and simply carrying a bottle in your hand. Hock didn’t like any of those, so he thought of an innovative alternative. He created a bottle that is held in place by the elastic waistbands on athletic apparel. After completing the Ironman and catching up on work at his graphic design firm, Brian Hock Design, Hock started working on his idea.

His finished design looks like a normal water bottle on the top, but slims down enough so it can easily slide between a waistband and hip. The larger top acts as a hook to hold the bottle in place.

With his design experience and fine arts degree from Bowling Green State University, Hock had the knowledge and know-how to design the product and make rough mock-ups. After four months of working on the product on nights and weekends, Hock found a company in California that could turn his drawings into a prototype, but first, he needed funding.

Hock turned to the crowd sourcing website, Kickstarter, which allows people to donate as much money as they want to a specific fundraising campaign. Hock researched the most successful Kickstarter campaigns, wrote a script for a small video highlighting his water bottle and set his funding goal at $20,000. Last August, four days before his campaign on Kickstarter expired, Hock reached his goal. He raised a total of $21,800, which enabled him to get the first round of his bottle manufactured in Los Angeles.

“I think the Kickstarter campaign gave me a good PR hook,” Hock says,” It wasn’t as popular then and it got me into a couple newspapers and things because people were interested.”

That interest has helped his bottles make their way into 10 stores across the country, from Florida to Utah. Hock is working with retailers in Canada and France to expand, all from his office in Mariemont or his home in Anderson Township. Hock attended a retail show in Austin, Texas, that helped him get publicity, but he also uses direct mail and cold calls to find retail outlets. In his search, he has also discovered other markets that are interested in the Simple Hydration bottle. A mountain biker called Hock recently and told him how perfect his bottle was for his sport. He recalls the man saying he and his friends would use crush plastic water bottles and keep them in their pocket, but Hock’s product worked much better. That kind of credibility contributes to Hock's success.

Recently, the LA Times contacted Hock about featuring his bottle; Runner’s World Magazine also has a sample of the bottle, but Hock has yet to hear if they will feature it.

“The best way for someone to try a product is if it used by a credible source,” Hock says.

By Evan Wallis

Simple Hydration
Cincinnati, Ohio
Brian Hock