There’s nothing more basic than water. But how do we get it when we go for a walk, a hike, a run, or a ride? As a runner and triathlete, Jim McFarland spent a great deal of time picking through a lot of different products. Like many inventors of innovative products in the triathlon industry, he eventually concluded that he could build a better mousetrap and launched FLEXR Sports.
FLEXR has developed a line of hydration systems for running and biking guaranteed to never have a nasty aftertaste from last week’s sport drink, never leach mystery chemicals, and always be good for the environment. We recently caught up with Jim to learn more about the product and the company.
Paul: Jim, first tell us what’s your background in sports?
Jim: I was a runner first. I ran in high school. Then I picked it up at 40. I’m an avid cyclist and have done multiple triathlons. I’m more of a hammer-down kind of guy. I love stuff that is fast. I do a lot of outdoors stuff including mountain biking.
Paul: What led you to reinvent the water bottle?
Jim: I was always concerned about hydration. I was frankly discouraged and disgusted with the bottles on market. They smell toxic when brand new. They are hard. I had a collection of bottles that I would never take another drink from. I had the massive collection, because they accumulated a taste…a taste like bleach, not like a fresh bottle.
Paul: When did it hit you that you could make a better bottle?
Jim: One day while running, the light bulb went off. The sloshing drove me nuts. Then I thought of baby bottle concept. I thought that maybe we could put a bladder in it. A year later came up with something that looked pretty good. Then I decided that I didn’t want to create lots of landfill. Low and behold, I found myself in the business of building bottles.
Paul: I bet that you have had great feedback from runners.
Jim: I have had excellent feedback from runners. Cycling guys…well, a few guys like having a hard bottle. All of them liked not having to worry about bottle. Generally, they will rack their bike and don’t think about washing the bottle. We really haven’t focused on cycling. Cycling will be a little more competitive market to crack.
Paul: Cyclists tend to be resistant to change.
Jim: I totally agree. They are purists. Once something works, they will always ask, “Why change?” What I’m telling cyclists is that we’re not trying to displace name brand bottles. Rather, we’re giving something to beginner cyclists who will look for new features to consider and be open to buying our product.
Paul: How long did it take it to get from idea to market?
Jim: Two years. I don’t know why it always takes so long. It’s a constant struggle to get things done in a timely manner. That’s why we stuck to U.S. manufacturers. We don’t care, when it comes to consumables, we want to know that our products are completely clean.
Paul: What are your goals this year in the triathlon market?
Jim: They are all the same. It’s all about distribution. I don’t care what industry happens to be our niche, the bottom line is that we want to get distribution off the ground. I’d be thrilled to have more specialty stores represent our product line. Distribution is our major push this year.
Paul: Good luck and we’ll start looking for your bottles in stores near us!