While I haven’t gotten to hold one of Brian Hock’s Simple Hydration Water Bottles, the concept interested me enough to do an interview with Brian and invest some of my own money though KickStarter. Like all good ideas, the Simple Hydration Water Bottle is, well, simple. The bottle’s design eliminates the need for a belt or other fastening device to carry it with you when you run. It is also well-designed to be carried in your hand.
BITR: Brian give us a little running resume.
Brian: I stated running in races when I was 10 years old. I ran my first full 26.2 marathon when I was 12 years old in a time of 4 hours 47 minutes. I really enjoyed running and found some early success by placing high or even winning my age group at some races. I then ran Varsity Cross Country and Track at Anderson High School (Cincinnati, OH) where our CC team was ranked #1 in the state and I was our number 5 guy running about 16:15 for 5K. I did a bit of everything in track but my best event was the 800 meters in a time of 1:56.9. I then went on to run Varsity Cross Country and Track at Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, Ohio). In college I managed to run a 3:57 1500 meters on the track and a 26:09 8K on the grass.
After college I continued to run but primarily for enjoyment and staying in shape. I have run 6 marathons including Columbus (3:31 PR), New York City, Bermuda, Air Force and Chicago. And 3 years ago I completed what would be the first of 2 Ironman Triathlons when I set a personal record of 12:10:16 at Ironman Coeur d’Alene (Idaho). I finished Ironman Louisville (Kentucky) in 2010.
BITR: What is your favorite Distance or event?
Brian: I’d say the Half Marathon distance as I like how you can push yourself yet you can recover very quickly from a hard race. And it’s far enough that you get your money’s worth every time.
BITR: How did you get into Running and Triathlons?
Brian: My Dad got me into running by having me go on some small (and slow) runs around our neighborhood when I was 10 years old. I come from a family with six brothers and sisters so it was some nice time to just be with my Dad. He took up running when he quit both drinking and smoking cold turkey. He then set his goal on running a marathon and he did just that by completing the YMCA Pacemakers Marathon in northern Kentucky back in 1980. He was probably one of the first to run a full marathon in a pair of Hush Puppies Shoes. Marathons were not like they are today and the race may have had 150 people total. When he came home and told me that the race director heard their was another runner coming he went out and ran the last 400 meters with my Dad to finish in just over 6 hours. They had taken the finish chute down because they thought everyone had finished. I saw his certificate and thought that was cool and said I would like to do it the next year. So in 1981 I ran that same marathon in 4:47 and had no clue how far it really was as my longest training run was only 15 miles prior to the race. My parents did check with a doctor to see if it would be okay if I did run the marathon and I’m glad he said yes.
With triathlons I jumped into the deep end right away by signing up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene back in 2007. I had taken a couple years off running to start my own design business and was at the Flying Pig Marathon in 2007 to cheer on some friends when they challenged each other and me to qualify for Boston. I initially took the challenge as I knew I needed to get back into shape but then I started thinking that if I’m getting into that good of running shape then I should just go ahead and do an Ironman Triathlon. I always wanted to do an Ironman since seeing the Wide World of Sports present the Hawaii Ironman back in high school. I basically had to learn how to swim and bike but I surprisingly picked it up after a few months of training. I love the Ironman and can see why people get hooked on the sport.
BITR: Give us a little information on your design background.
Brian: I worked as an Art Director on two national magazines right after college and then shifted to advertising. I worked with two small business-to-business advertising companies moving up to be a part owner and vice president of design with DeanHouston, Inc. in Cincinnati. I started Brian Hock Design (BHD) in 2003 and provide a range of services including identity, brochure, catalog, trade show, annual report and web site design. BHD provides graphic design solutions for local, regional and national companies and organizations including First Group America, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Fletcher Homes, Viking Partners and the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati among others.
I have served in many roles including President of the American Institute of Graphic Design (Cincinnati Chapter). During my term as president membership grew by 200%. I also served on the board for the School of Advertising Art (Dayton, Ohio) and regularly lecture about design at universities in the midwest.
In 2006 I designed and launched a social networking site for designers called designerID. The site continues to grow and now has over 3,000 members and 10,000+ pieces of design in its database. In 2008 I also launched GreatOfficeSpaces.com as a way for design firms to showcase their unique office space to attract talent and be seen as innovative.
I am a 1991 graduate of Bowling Green State University with a BFA in Design. I also was selected and attended a 2-week program on Design Leadership at Harvard University in 2004.
BITR: How and why did you get started designing a running water bottle?
Brian: When I was training for my second Ironman Triathlon in the summer of 2010 I came up with what would be the idea. The Louisville Ironman takes place in late August and the temperature around that time can be brutal so I was doing some training runs around 3 pm to simulate when I might be starting the marathon. I hate to carry a water bottle in my hand because it makes you less efficient as a runner and I don’t like to use a hydration belt because they’re clunky, shift around and the bottles are hard to put back into place. So my temporary solution was to take a full Aquafina bottle squeeze some air out of it and then slide it into the back of my shorts utilizing the waistband to hold it into the place. It actually worked okay except it would slip down every once in a while.
So my original thought was to design some kind of case that could hold bottled water and could clip to your shorts. I contacted a local seamstress who agreed to help me with my prototype and was surprised when she said she would help for free because she thought this initial idea was good (she happened to be a runner). After testing this prototype and realizing that it wasn’t simple enough it dawned on me to actually make the water bottle itself the clip.
BITR: What have you learned through the development and design of the Simple Hydration Water Bottle?
Brian: I would say the greatest thing I have learned is that you have to keep pushing to find a simple solution that works. I saw this first hand with the Simple Hydration Water Bottle and how could I continue to improve and simplify the design. First it was the holder, then the clip and finally continuing to modify and improve the bottle design itself.
Then I was confronted with the challenge of finding a blow molding company in the United States that could make this bottle. I was very glad to finally find one in California but I must have been turned down by a half dozen companies after reviewing the specifications for my bottle. This bottle pushes the limits of the blow molding process and proved to be one additional challenge to overcome. This same selection process happened with the bottle’s push/pull cap.
BITR: With a month left to go on KickStarter you have a large sum to go, what will happen to Simple Hydration if you don’t reach your goal of $20,000?
Brian: I knew the $20,000 goal amount was lofty but I’ve always been one to meet my goals. The Simple Hydration Water Bottle is moving full steam ahead as we’ve had a great response from runners as well as some initial orders from running specialty stores. Just last week Bob Roncker’s Running Spot (Cincinnati & Kentucky) placed an order for 700 bottles. We have an aggressive production schedule set and in motion to have the first run of Simple Hydration Water Bottles produced by mid-August. If (by some chance) we don’t reach our goal then all orders can and will be transfered over through our web site so that we can get our innovative bottles to our customers.
Note that we’re actually on pace to meet our goal based on number or days remaining versus funds raised. But we do need your help to continue the momentum and make this dream a reality.
BITR: Is KickStarter the place to get information about the project?
Brian: Yes. Anyone can get information about the bottle or place a pre-order for a bottle(s) at one of the pledge levels on my Kickstarter page. Similar to our aggressive production schedule, we’re also building a brand new web site that will be live by the time the Kickstarter campaign ends on August 9th.
Brian: I hope people will back my Simple Hydration Water Bottle and take this new product journey with me. It could be simply pre-ordering a bottle or stepping it up to be a part of the Simple Hydration Racing Team (where you’ll be profiled on our new web site). I’m just an average runner, husband (to Kristin) and father of two great kids (Braden 7 & Brianne 2) that had an idea and is now trying to make it a reality. This new product has forced me to step back and look at things in a simple way just as one of my kids do. We’ve had great fun building crude prototypes or running around our family room to test the ones we’ve developed. It’s also been a tremendous amount of hard work and learning that never ends. I now take my years of business and design experience and blend them with my passion for running to bring the Simple Hydration Water Bottle to market. My goal, much like the lofty goals I set with the funding of this product, is to make the Simple Hydration brand one of the top in the running industry. If this is a marathon then we’re just about to hit the first mile and boy do we feel good.
I thank you in advance for your support. It means a lot to me, my family and runners everywhere.
BITR: Watch Brian’s video and see how the bottle works.