15.3 C
New York
Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Richmond company makes a plastic-free bike bottle

Bivo water bottles are made of stainless steel and have a high flow rate spout. Seen in Richmond on Monday, November 7, 2022. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

When Carina Hamel was ready to take her daughter to daycare, she was trying to teach her how to drink from bottles.

Hamel tried all kinds, but he didn’t like that the bottles he found were all plastic. If it’s heated in a dishwasher, the plastic can leach out, he said. It can also leave a bad taste in your mouth. And when the bottle wears out, there’s only a 5% chance the plastic will be recycled, according to a recent Greenpeace report.

One day while living in Portland, Oregon, Hamel and her husband, Robby Ringer, were skiing and discussing what bottles they could use to feed their daughter. They realized that they, too, were drinking from plastic bottles.

Hamel is a former University of Vermont cross-country skier who was a teammate of Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray. Hamel and Ringer are also passionate cyclists.

They returned home that day and began looking for outdoor sports bottles. With the exception of one made in Italy that was sold mainly in Europe, they couldn’t find a bike bottle on the market that wasn’t made of plastic.

(A cycling water bottle differs from other sports bottles in that it fits in a holder on the bike frame and can be operated with one hand so the rider can drink and continue to ride at the same time.)

In 2019, they started to design and develop their own plastic-free bicycle bottle.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, they moved from Oregon to western Massachusetts to live with Hamel’s parents, who were taking care of their daughter. They launched Bivo in 2020 from their parents’ cellar.

A year and a half ago, Hamel and Ringer moved to Vermont. They wanted to locate the company in a city where they could attract talent that understood cycling. They chose Richmond, the home of Rooted Vermont, the annual gravel bike race, and Cochran’s Ski Area, which offers mountain biking trails in the summer.

“We chose Richmond because it’s a great cycling hub,” Hamel said. When he was on the UVM cross-country ski team, he would head to Richmond to train on their roads and trails in the summer and fall.

At a June launch event at Hula in Burlington sponsored by LaunchVT, Hamel recounted how she and Ringer decided on the product.

“We found a hole in the market,” he told the audience.

The bottles are made of metal and cannot be squeezed. Ringer demonstrated Bivo’s gravity flow system, which, if placed over a cyclist’s mouth, generates a strong jet of water.

Since she and Ringer began their research on bike bottles, several other metal bottles have been introduced to the market. But Hamel said the gravity flow technology is the biggest difference between the Bivo and the other bottles.

“The Bivo bottles open and close like a normal sports nozzle and pour very quickly and without air in the stream of water,” said Hamel. “The spout system we invented allows cyclists to drink on the go and get enough water.”

Bivo makes 21-ounce and 25-ounce bottles, the former selling for $39. At the request of customers, Hamel said, Bivo now offers a dust cap and an insulated bottle.

They sell about half of their bottles from their website, with the rest sold at stores including Outdoor Gear Exchange on Burlington’s Church Street; some bike shops in or near Richmond; and more than 40 retailers across the country and in Canada.

So far, Bivo has only two employees in Richmond besides Hamel and her husband. A third works in Portland, Oregon. Hamel estimates that Bivo will create 13 full-time jobs in Vermont by 2028. The bottles are made in China.

Hamel told the LaunchVT audience that he expects Bivo sales to hit $617,000 this year and predicted positive cash flow for early 2024. He said he was raising capital from friends and family.

Bivo’s target market is avid cyclists, which Hamel defines as people who bike at least twice a week. She estimates the annual bottle market for those riders to be $714 million.

Hamel and her husband plan to grow the company by eventually offering bottles for running, hiking, yoga, golf and soccer.

Do you want to be aware of the latest business news? Sign up here for a weekly email on all of VTDigger’s reports on local business and economic trends. And check out our new Business section here.

Did you know that VTDigger is a non-profit organization?

Our journalism is made possible by member donations. If you value what we do, please contribute and help keep this vital resource accessible to all.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles