I had the distinct pleasure today to visit with Eli and Jen Crane, the founders and owners of startup company – Bottle Breacher. Two nicer and more genuine people you will not find. It was absolutely wonderful to visit with them and be introduced to their products more thoroughly and their process from design, operations and marketing. The passion in both of them is infectious. It also reconfirms the entrepreneurial spirit that drives this country.
What is Bottle Breacher?
I hesitate to write what Bottle Breacher makes and markets because before I hit “publish” on this post, they will likely have come up with a new idea and put it up on their website. Nevertheless, the core offering of this company is extremely unique bottle openers based on 50 caliber ammunition. 50 caliber ammunition? You read that correctly. I’ll explain that in a moment. But, during our tour, Eli and Jen walked Kim Brooke and I through their operations. They showed some of their early products – manufactured literally out of their garage with a Dremel. Using a fabric tape measure and Sharpie, Eli was able to draw out and cut out two units an hour! Not something you can scale but they learned something valuable – market validation. We then were able to see how they laser etched the various images and lettering onto the shells – from one at a time to an entire tray load. They highlighted the powder coating process and finally how they took pretty raw shells, polished them and cut them with some very high end CNC machines. That’s a long way from fabric tape and Sharpies! Walking from one densely packed industrial real estate unit to another showed that they have gone far in their short history.
This history includes a successful stint on Shark Tank where Eli and Jen pitched their idea and got an investment from Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary for a small stake in the business. Those funds helped pay for their CNC machine that cuts out the bottle opener shape from the ammunition. But, according to both of them, it was likely the publicity from the event that has been the most beneficial to them. Over that time, they have produced a variety of special pieces for many celebrities and sports stars including a full set for Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, which he gave out to dozens of his friends and colleagues. Special tribute units have been made in honor to many of our fallen soldiers including Chris Kyle, the Navy Seal who inspired the move, “American Sniper.”
50 Caliber Ammunition
I mentioned I would explain why 50 caliber ammunition. Well, Eli proudly served our nation as a member of the U.S. Navy Seals too – including being on the same Seal team as Chris Kyle – and was inspired by a gift he received. That gift was a bottle opener machined out of ammunition. While he readily admits that he did not invent the idea, they surely have perfected it. Jen’s background in business and her great education in marketing from the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona have allowed them to really start an equally important step as the operations and that is branding and marketing wildly. They are definitely a great team. And, on top of that, they obviously have a dedicated group of employees that keep this ship running tightly. For my part, I’m confident that they will continue to grow well into the future.
Fortunately, for us, Eli and Jen have also agreed to be one of our speakers in a new conference we will be hosting in the fall of next year called, Ideas to Doors. This conference will feature startups and early stage companies just like Bottle Breacher with great story-tellers like Eli and Jen. It will be a very inspiring, raw and unfiltered experience. Keep your eye out for more about this new gig. As for Bottle Breacher, check out their company and story at: http://bottlebreacher.com/
I am the Director of the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing at the University of Arizona and the PetSmart Professor of Practice. I am very passionate about teaching, being a Dad, barbecue and chocolate – not necessarily in that order.