Hydration and innovation

Coleman Iverson, Alexander Hambrock, Alexandra Feeken, and Nadya Nguyen pose in their workspace in Minneapolis on Saturday, June 13. They are four of five University alumni who have invented the HidrateMe water bottle.

Juliet Farmer

Coleman Iverson, Alexander Hambrock, Alexandra Feeken, and Nadya Nguyen pose in their workspace in Minneapolis on Saturday, June 13. They are four of five University alumni who have invented the HidrateMe water bottle.

Sarah Thamer

A glowing water bottle created by University of Minnesota alumni might be a solution to staying hydrated.
 
Syncing to smart phones, HidrateMe is a smart water bottle developed by University graduates that tracks individuals’ water intake based on weight and exercise levels, and it glows as a reminder to drink more water. Still, one expert says the bottle’s features may not be able to improve overall hydration.
 
The five-person team of engineers, designers, marketers and developers behind the water bottle met in classes at the University through an interdisciplinary program designed for students whose interests fall between various academic disciplines.
 
The startup’s team realized many of their friends might not be drinking enough water after its CEO returned from a long workday with a migraine and noticed she hadn’t had water all day. They said busy schedules and long work days can prevent people from drinking enough water.
 
Once it’s ready, users can download an app which syncs to the water bottle. They input their weight and exercise level, and a sensor inside the bottle tracks how much they drink.
 
Through the fundraising site Kickstarter, the team’s $35,000 goal turned to more than $100,000 in three days, said Alexandra Feeken, a marketing and entrepreneurship graduate. The project’s total is now more than $320,000.
 
“We want to remind people that they can feel good through staying hydrated,” said Coleman Iverson, a graphic design graduate who helped develop the bottle’s design.
 
Organized by CEO Nadya Nguyen, a management information systems graduate, the team first built the bottle’s prototype in 54 hours at the Minneapolis Google
Startup Weekend last September, an event for developers to build their product and launch their startups. Winning third place, they began working on the bottle’s design soon after.
 
In February, the team was accepted into the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator program. The program helps fund startups, working closely with teams to help new companies succeed.
 
“We worked really hard for it to take off, but we didn’t know it would take off that fast,” Iverson said.
 
William Roberts, a family medicine and community health professor, said the bottle might not improve hydration because the body is well equipped to stay hydrated on its own.
 
He said having a water bottle that tells people when to drink is “redundant,” and people already have wide access to water. He also said drinking too much water can lead to health problems.
 
The healthy amount of water to drink daily varies depending on factors like exercise and outside temperature, he said. 
 
“How much water a person needs depends on who you read and who you believe,” Roberts said.
 
HidrateMe plans to place a production order next month and will start shipping in December.