Richard Smiedt, Move Collective

Shaun Weston3 Aug 2010 (Updated 4 Aug 2010)

Shaun Weston talks to Richard Smiedt, president and founder of Move Collective, about the innovative Bobble.

Your Bobble concept is still relatively young, having been launched earlier this year. How's business going?

Richard Smiedt: It's been a wonderful ride. We've never seen anything like this. We're getting wonderful placement with key retailers, excellent sell-through, great press and incredible consumer feedback. That's not to say we don't have the usual new rollout pressures, but we wouldn't change a thing.

Was it expensive to bring to market?

Smiedt: Yes, Bobble is far more challenging than meets the eye. From the manufacturing process to create this aesthetic in a soft, squeezable body, to ensuring filter flow, it all took major investment. We've also tried to ensure that every touch point was first-class – photography, packaging, brand look and feel, web design, PR and media.

Then, of course, the in-store piece and securing the intellectual property. All in all, we've put a lot into this.

What are the global expansion plans for the product?

Smiedt: We started in the US, which, as you know, is a huge market. We're building steadily here. Next, we have launches planned in the UK, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America and Hong Kong. Other EU and Asian markets will come on line gradually. The interest has been enormous from all corners of the globe. It's key for us to manage our growth, and select partner distributors and retailers who really get Bobble and can execute our vision globally.

Who's behind the design, and do you have plans to expand the range to accommodate different bottle sizes?

Smiedt: I, with my wife Stephanie, developed the line. We work very closely with Karim Rashid, the designer. Karim is best known for his work with brands such as Method Home, Issey Miyake, Prada, Hugo Boss, Dirt Devil and Umbra, among others. And we're expanding the line. We're happy to announce that a 1-litre Bobble and a .375-litre kids size will launch this autumn.

What's your background? Have you previously worked in bottle manufacture or is this a new venture?

Smiedt: I've spent 25 years in consumer goods, and developed more than 2,000 products for many brands. Some have been highly acclaimed and won design awards. Bottles per se are new to me, but developing product and programmes for major retailers has been my life's work.

How does Bobble actually work, Richard?

Smiedt: It's so simple. You just fill Bobble with water, then drink. Bobble will do the rest. The proprietary bottle-mountable carbon filtration system is easy to use. Bobble is a reverse filter, so you gently squeeze the bottle and it filters as you drink.

How much do the filters cost, and are they as recyclable as the container?

Smiedt: Filters are £8 and can be returned to us or our distributors in each country for recycling. We actively break these down and reuse the materials. The filter itself will biodegrade.

Are the filters easy to get hold of?

Smiedt: Yes, all retailers stock Bobbles and filters or they can be purchased online. Also, as they come in six great colours, you can change the look of your Bobble at will.

What would you say to those people in areas where tap water is of a particularly high quality? Do they still need a Bobble?

Smiedt: Absolutely still use Bobble! Bobble is super effective at taking out chlorine, so you'll notice the taste difference immediately. And you'll look good while doing good.

How are you finding social media marketing for Bobble? Is it proving successful?

Smiedt: Social Media is great. Our social networks are growing every day, and it's a wonderful way of getting immediate feedback and talking directly to our customer.

What's your favourite Bobble colour?

Smiedt: This is the most difficult question, as I change all the time. Today was yellow. Tomorrow I think will be red.

Richard Smiedt is president and founder of Move Collective.

Shaun Weston is editor of FoodBev.com. You can contact him here, or read his blog here.