Meet the World’s Toughest Coffee Maker, COFFEEBOXXBy Jane Whitttington on March 5th, 2015 /
In the “why didn’t I think of that?” department, Jim Doan, Founder and CEO of OXX, had a brilliant idea. Walking through a new subdivision with lots of houses under construction, he noticed a workman carrying a beat-up microwave onto the worksite. He realized that construction sites were not the best places to use small appliances. Meant for home use, they didn’t stand up to the conditions on job sites. Why not make something that did?
Doan, whose degree is in industrial design, worked for Whirlpool for several years as lead designer. He says, “Working there was great, but in 2012, I decided to leave. I’ve always been entrepreneurial, and I knew that it was time for me to start my own business. With that in mind, I spent a year figuring out just what this business could be.”
He continues, “The corporate buzz word is ‘innovation’, but in the appliance business, innovations are really few and far between. The idea I had was to create a coffee maker that would be tough enough and reliable enough to work well on a construction site. The home appliance industry is a huge business generating over $250 billion a year. But it’s called the ‘home appliance’ industry for a reason. No one has ever really thought about appliances for use outside the home.”
After coming up with the idea for the COFFEEBOXX, Doan set about designing and manufacturing what now boasts to be the “World’s Toughest Coffee Maker.”
Over the next year, Doan put together a business plan, thought about products and funding and considered sales, branding and marketing. By the end of 2012, Doan was ready to find funding and get going. He found two private investors, got a small business grant through a branch of the Small Business Development Center and also used Start Garden, an online fundraising tool. After raising the seed money, Doan focused on finding manufacturers and developing his product. Up to this point, Doan had been working on his own, but in 2013, he brought on a salesperson.
“I went to China several times to secure a manufacturer, and we found someone who could make a high quality product and who was reliable and cost-effective,” said Doan. “Once the prototype was made, it was time to go out to retailers to see if the big box stores were open to this new product. Fortunately, they were!”
Doan continues, “In essence, what we did was ruggedize the coffee maker, making it suitable for use on worksites. Another market for the product is for outdoor recreational use. Because it needs an electrical source, it can’t be used for wilderness camping, but is great for use at campsites or in RVs. What we wanted to create is something that is portable, robust and built like a tool rather than a home appliance.”
In a year and a half, Doan went from the first inkling of an idea to manufacturing a truly innovative product. The company has grown from one employee to eight.
The coffee maker should be in stores by mid-March this year and will retail for between $200-$300, depending on the retailer. It will also be for sale online, but the main push will be in stores.
The COFFEEBOXX is described on their website in these words: “Designed to work in the world’s harshest environments, the COFFEEBOXX™ brews a perfect cup of coffee in under 90 seconds at the touch of a button. Featuring an impact-resistant shell, a crush-proof core that can withstand a ¼ ton load, water-resistant and dust-proof protection, rust-resistant hardware and construction, and a watertight system design that makes it spill-proof, it’s safe to say that this beast of a brewer can go anywhere you dare to venture.”
Made of extremely sturdy material, COFFEEBOXX weighs only 11 pounds and is easily transported using the built-in handle. Single-use coffee packs are used to brew the coffee.
Since its introduction, the COFFEEBOXX has received lots of press. Doan says, “It’s a unique product; it looks different, and it is different. We’ve been pleased at how much response there has been from the media.”
Google their name, and you’ll see that they have appeared in Gizmag.com, digital trends.com, Outside magazine, Vendingmarketwatch.com, the Grand Rapids Business Journal, coolthings.com and Forbes, among many others. They have also appeared on the Daily Planet TV show on the Discovery Channel Canada. On the television program, a Jeep was perched atop four COFFEEBOXXs with no damage to either the coffee makers or the Jeep.
An idea, a willingness to take a risk, creative thinking and sound business strategy have come together to propel this start-up to a great start. Stay tuned: you’ll be hearing more from OXX.