We recently spoke with Jessica Bell, inventor and owner of HaloVino, who makes stackable, recyclable, reusable and dishwasher-safe plastic wine tumblers that combine the cost and convenience of plastic cups with the taste and experience associated with wine glasses.
Q: Tell me about yourself and the company’s history?
A: I started as an investment banker, but took what was supposed to be a one-year break before business school and moved to Spain. I found a job at a winery and have been in the wine world ever since. I worked as sommelier in New York City and then started my own wine school in Milwaukee and Chicago for 10 years. As an expert on wine and the wine consumer, I knew there would be a market for a smart, fun and affordable shatterproof wine glass.
Q: What is HaloVino?
A: HaloVino is the first shatterproof, stackable, stemless wine glass. Its unique, patented two-part design allows for easy portability, while making wine taste better with less mess—and is fully dishwasher-safe, made in the USA and BPA-free.
Q: How did you create your product, and what resources did you use to get started?
A: I spent a lot of time on the unique patented design. I worked with engineers and my manufacturers to make my vision a reality. We are proud members of the Made In Wisconsin® Program, and are also certified as a Qualified New Business Venture to help us attract investment.
Q: What stage is the company at today, and what have been some milestones along the way?
A: We are gearing up for national expansion. Our first year of growth was limited by the prototype mold we were using. We have a new production mold, which will now allow us to meet the demands of a national and international market. Our milestones have included completing the design, executing a successful Kickstarter program raising almost $30,000 to build the prototype mold, selling our first product in June 2016, entering into our first stadium, retail store and major festival, and now purchasing our production mold.
Q: How does your business benefit from being located in Wisconsin?
A: WEDC and Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has been extremely helpful in attracting investors and funds for continued growth. Our manufacturer is in Wisconsin, which has helped ensure product development happens as accurately and efficiently as possible with face-to-face meetings. For a cash-strapped startup, one major mistake can mean the end.
Q: Who are your key customers, and where do you see growth opportunities?
A: Key customers and growth opportunities include large retail, grocery stores, stadiums, fairs, festivals and concerts.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you? What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs facing similar challenges?
A: The biggest challenge has been securing financing before having major traction and yet not giving up the entire company. For anyone launching a consumer product, I would recommend using a crowdfunding website to prove the concept, then bootstrapping as long as possible and trying to find loans from friends and family, as well as government resources for financing and grants.
Q: What sets the company apart from competitors?
A: We are the least expensive shatterproof wine glass, but we are also the only stackable one making it portable for consumers and less expensive and more convenient for businesses. We are also the only fully dishwasher safe shatterproof wine glass at this price point making HaloVino the most value-driven shatterproof wine glass. At about $1-1.50 per glass, and the ability to dishwasher it 20-50 times, HaloVino costs about the same as a plastic cup, reduces significant waste AND makes wine taste better with less mess!