Like all great ideas, This Koozie Sucks began with a problem — this time, it was one that is all too often encountered in college towns across America. On this fateful night Trent Jacobs, an ASU graduate with a degree in business, was pre-gaming for a party. When he stepped into the shower, taking his beer with him, he met an unpleasant reality — no matter how carefully he attempted to balance his beverage while showering, he could not keep it from falling in, or worse, getting watered down.
Immediately, he went into problem-solving mode. “I thought, ‘What’s a better way to do this?’ and the idea came to mind to do a special cup with an attachment. I came up with the first draft and made a prototype, and then Chad helped develop it.” While Trent’s business and accounting degree hadn’t quite prepared him for the logistics, his brother Chad Jacob’s background in engineering helped him refine the project’s design. Soon, he says, their project took off.
What started as a convenient way to keep his drink shower-safe has become a full-fledged business for ASU alumni Trent and Chad Jacobs, along with their friend Rafael Terrazas, although the three still work day jobs as they continue to grow This Koozie Sucks. While their business is small (Trent, Chad and Rafael are currently its only three employees), Trent says that he likes it that way. The trio assembles each koozie by hand, each of which comes in one of five colors and includes a detachable suction cup. Trent explains, “It’s all local, it’s all hand done. We don’t actually get anybody to build these for us and become resellers, which is, in my opinion, one of the cooler aspects of the business.”
While this hands-on style of running a business may seem stressful, Trent emphasizes that he stays sane by celebrating small successes. He says, “We finally got our website up and running, and we sent it to all of our friends and got feedback on that. It was a major win of ours, and we celebrated, and now we’re competing. So we came out of that win and kept going.” Considering the fact that This Koozie Sucks was created only a few months ago, Trent, Chad, and Rafael have much to celebrate. Along with a video on popular website Funnyordie, the trio’s koozies have garnered attention from enthusiastic shower-taking booze enthusiasts all over the web.
The company’s website and twitter feed feature pictures of koozies stuck to various unlikely surfaces, some a bit stranger than others. “Probably the weirdest one that comes to mind is the butt of a girl in shiny pants,” Chad says. “Super smooth, shiny gold pants — and it actually stuck right on the butt.”
It’s this unconventional quirkiness that Trent and Chad hope will catapult This Koozie Sucks into the spotlight. To top it all off, customers can also work with This Koozie Sucks to customize their own koozie, a feature that Trent predicts “will be huge with Greek life.”
With so much to do, Trent, Chad and Rafael must combine their different skills to keep things running smoothly. While engineering graduate Chad’s original role was to refine the design of the koozies and fill out the patent for their invention, he says that he now performs a variety of different roles for This Koozie Sucks: “We trade roles all the time. We blend a lot of our skills together, because with any small business you have to do that.”
Trent, the koozie’s original creator and a business graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Supply Chain Management from ASU, remains one of the primary creative forces behind the company, and Raphael handles many of the promotional efforts for This Koozie Sucks.
“Never work with family” is a phrase so commonly repeated that it verges on cliché, but Trent and Chad seem determined to make it look easy. Trent says, “It depends on the family. For me and Chad, we grew up extremely competitive with each other, and it’s that kind of natural competitive aspect that helps us work so well together. We become competitors against the world, and we want to see what we can do and how far we can make it.”
According to Chad, working on This Koozie Sucks has strengthened his bond with his brother. “My brother and I are very close, so it’s kind of rewarding,” he says. “When we moved away from Arizona, and he moved to Chicago and I moved to Austin, we didn’t get to see each other. It’s actually brought us closer together because we’re able to work toward a common goal that we both have of starting and running our own business.”
In fact, both brothers have enjoyed their experience working together on This Koozie Sucks so much that they plan on working together again in the future. Chad says, “I don’t see this project being our last by any means.”
Whether it’s a koozie that keeps your drink safe from the perils of a long shower, or one of their as yet unimagined joint endeavors, it’s clear that the inventors behind This Koozie Sucks are in it for the long haul.
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