By: Rhea Puri
Did you know that about 34% of all glass containers in the U.S. were recycled in 2011? That is equivalent to removing 210,000 cars off of the road. All glass materials are 100% recyclable, but majority of liquor retailers only accept glass under dry and unbroken conditions. The quick, safe, and convenient model of the Fastrack allows businesses, home brewers and private parties to collect beer bottles without the hassle. The patented product was developed to allow for an individual to efficiently dry out beer and wine bottles. The bottles may then be stacked and stored in an organized fashion for recycling or reuse. On a grand scale, the Fastrack cuts down over 150 hours of labour at a bar. In the home of a customer, it takes away the headache of post-party clean ups and prevents the problem of fruit flies. The product has gained fans worldwide and it is acknowledged for its brilliance, being featured in over a dozen online articles.
Mitchell Lesbirel and Casey Binkley were joined together by their education at Dalhousie University. As a passionate home brewer experiencing lengthy efforts to care for beer bottles, Mitchell thought of the concept for Fastrack. Mitchell and Casey felt others would equally benefit from the problem-solving innovation. Together, they invested thousands of hours into developing samples and testing prototypes. By posting demonstration videos of the Fastrack on YouTube, they discovered the breadth of their potential market. In order to expand they sought advice and assistance from the RIC Centre, a regional innovation centre created to help technology startups accelerate their innovation to market. At the RIC Centre, Mitchell and Casey were paired up with their Entrepreneur-in-Residence mentor, Tim Scott, who helped them apply for government funding and guided them to successfully attain the “Level Up” Grant of $13,500. In addition, Tim helped the pair to consider a more extensive line of products while their Volunteer Advisor, Axel Kuhn, made suggestions to help improve their website and perform SEO. Lastly, RIC Centre’s Business Analyst, connected them to valuable contacts that alleviated some of the challenges when starting a business such as formatting grant proposals.
Mitchell states “The RIC Centre has played a pivotal role in pushing FastRack to the level it is now. Without the RIC Centre’s guidance and advice, it would have been a much slower process for us to reach market.”
Since starting in 2012, the Fastrack has had remarkable success and will continue to grow with the help of the RIC Centre. Today, Mitchell and Casey aspire to sufficiently meet demands from North America, Europe, South America and Australia. They recently acquired some of the largest beer and wine wholesale clients such as Brouwland in Europe and ABC Cork in Canada. In 2014, they hope to reach their sales goal of $2,000,000 and have the product in 2,500 stores. Since starting in 2012, the Fastrack has had remarkable success and will continue to grow with the help of the RIC Centre. Future plans include the development of new products and thus ideally obtaining more grants. Fastrack serves as a primary example of how a company can strategically conduct a strong start in the market and continue to flourish with the right help.
Update March 2014: Fastrack was recently aired on Dragon’s Den and is one of the highest viewed videos!
Rhea is currently a student at the University of Toronto Mississauga attaining a degree in Communications, Culture, Information and Technology, as well as a certificate from Sheridan in Digital Communications. She has great interest in marketing, the effects of media, and environmentalism. Rhea intends to open a business post-graduation.
The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal and professional experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.