Recently, I had a chance to email interview Tim Hayes, CEO and founder of Cardboard Helicopter and chief inventor of the Splash Infuser.
Not only has Tim invented what sounds like a fabulous product, but he is also contributing to Cleveland’s entrepreneurial and creative culture and spirit. So, let’s hear what he has to say:
Tell me about Cardboard Helicopter. How did you get started?
I felt like I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit my entire life, whether it was selling Kool-Aid, having my own landscaping company, or making and selling t-shirts, among other things. Years later, after graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art’s industrial design program, I worked and learned from some amazing companies in the region. However, I quickly decided that I was done working for others, and started to pave my own path to work for myself and one day start a company. Alone, I started designing and inventing products to license out to companies for royalties. After I started to gain some momentum, I asked some creative and talented friends to be involved. From there, Cardboard Helicopter was born. The name is about having limitless imagination and thinking without boundaries, and was conceived from the first time I remember using my imagination as a child. I had a large cardboard box, and told everyone in the house that I would be able to make it fly by the end of the day. Obviously, physics and other factors prevented the box from flying, but I kept creating and building things throughout my life. Our website can be found at www.cardboardhelicopter.com.
What is the Splash Infuser?
The Splash Infuser concept came to me earlier this year after I got bored with regular water and started infusing it with fresh fruit. I purchased a few tumblers with infusers built in, but they seemed to only really work after letting the fruit soak in the water overnight. I felt like there had to be a better way to infuse your drinks more rapidly. My team and I started brainstorming and testing different concepts, and eventually determined that our current design functions the best. We’re hoping the Splash Infuser will motivate consumers to forgo sugary, high-calorie beverages and start experimenting with creating their own healthy concoctions. Also, with homemade cocktails gaining popularity, the Splash is a great way to craft your own naturally flavored liquor!
What advantages does the Splash Infuser have over other infuser bottles?
The 2-piece infuser features a patented muddler lid that allows the user to twist and mash the ingredients, rapidly infusing your beverage with natural, healthy flavors. Also, we designed the Splash to accommodate as many ingredients as possible, while being able to fit inside most drinking containers. Many of the current infuser products on the market are fixed to larger containers, limiting their versatility and making them more difficult to clean.
What is your favorite way to use the Splash Infuser?
We’ve experimented with hundreds of flavor combinations for infusing both water and liquor, including using ingredients like chocolate, coffee beans, black pepper and yes, even bacon. One of my personal favorites is the cucumber and rosemary Splash infusion. The cucumber adds a nice subtle flavor, while the rosemary provides a terrific aroma to your beverage, creating a very smooth and refreshing drink. A few other crowd-pleasing Splash recipes were a lime, pineapple, jalapeno and cilantro infusion, as well as strawberry, lemon and mint. There are thousands of possible ingredient combinations, and we urge users to experiment with their favorite fruits, herbs, veggies and spices!
Tell me about the Cleveland background of Cardboard Helicopter and Splash Infuser.
When I was finishing up my time at CIA, I noticed a lot of my peers were looking for jobs in bigger markets like Chicago and New York. I understood their desire for a change of scenery, but I knew I eventually wanted to make my mark here in Cleveland. To be honest, there was no other choice for me. Cleveland, and the state of Ohio, has so much to offer in terms of manufacturing and innovative resources, not to mention we have a huge cost of living and cost of running a business advantage compared to many other cities. My team is made up of other passionate Clevelanders, and we are proud to grow our business here.
How can we support getting the Splash Infuser to market?
After paying for the production tooling, we are turning to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to help make the Splash a reality. People who are interested in learning more can find our campaign page by visiting www.splashinfuser.com. There, they will be able to donate to our project, and receive the Splash Infuser and other great rewards just by pledging. For example, those who donate $15 would receive two Splash Infusers if we hit our goal next month. If we reach our goal, we will start manufacturing here in the US immediately, with shipments going out in December. If we don’t reach our goal, your donation is never collected. So if you’re interested in owning the Splash and helping out a local small business, please visit www.splashinfuser.com and check out our rewards, or share with others that might benefit from the Splash Infuser!
Good luck to Tim and the Cardboard Helicopter team with the Splash Infuser and all your creative efforts! Thanks for keeping your entrepreneurial drive in Cleveland!