Introducing new stretch goals!
This story begins when I was traveling for business in Tokyo. I was out exploring near the Ebisu neighborhood when I stumbled upon a great little tavern called Bar Martha.
Bar Martha had a nice selection of scotch, rye, and bourbon but also just a really great atmosphere. I ordered a bourbon on the rocks and they delivered it with a perfect single ball of clear ice. In addition to the benefits of an ice ball in keeping a drink colder, longer and limiting dilution I was struck by simply how much better my drink looked. I had to get one when I was back home.
Sadly, after returning home and searching online I found out that the device that they used at Bar Martha costs $1,000! And you actually need to create clear ice blocks separately to use with it! This means either buying distilled water or boiling tap water, and freezing it into blocks. That wasn’t going to work, the cost plus level of effort were too extreme for me. I found a few other solutions that could form ice balls for a fraction of that cost, such as silicone molds, but they weren’t clear. They were filled with air bubbles and impurities and looked “cloudy” in my drink. There had to be a better way, so I set out to invent a solution.
This project has been in development for over a year. We have gone through a number of technical drawings, prototypes, and testing (and scotch) to get to this point. We are finally ready to unveil the Ice Baller – a simple, no-hassle way to make crystal clear ice balls from regular tap water in your home freezer.
My brother Pat and I have been tinkering and making things since we were kids. Together, we combine to have a solid set of skills for a project like this. I have previously launched an eCommerce business and have experience in operations, marketing, finance, customer service, and order fulfillment. In addition to a strong project management skill set, Pat has extensive experience with 3D modeling using CAD software with his engineering background and masters degree in astronautical engineering.
The unique design employs the concept of directional freezing to force air bubbles and impurities out of the water as it freezes from top to bottom. The non-toxic food-grade materials were carefully selected to ensure easy removal of the ice ball. Simply fill the Ice Baller with water to just below the top of the center fill hole, place in the freezer for the day, twist and remove top to extract your clear ice ball.
Why does an ice ball melt slower than ice cubes?
Since an ice ball has less surface area by volume than an equal sized cube or cubes, it will keep your drink colder, longer, without watering it down. The time it takes to melt ice is in direct relation to its surface area.
How much longer do ice balls last than ice cubes?
To demonstrate, we weighed our ice ball and gathered an equal mass of ice cubes and created the time-lapse video below.
The answer is that the Wintersmiths Ice Ball will last almost one hour longer than standard ice cubes - that's 80% longer!
We have hit the ground running with our manufacturing plan and made a lot of progress. Some of the most difficult steps are out of the way and we are now ready to raise funds for mold tooling and production. Mold tooling is easily the most expensive part of manufacturing a new product and we really need your help to make it happen! Although our backer rewards target an October deliver date, we will start mold tooling and production as soon as we reach our funding goal - so if we reach it early we will try to exceed your expectations on that date :). Here is where we are in the process and the next phases in chronological order:
Thanks for checking out our project!
Risks and challenges
There are three things that help to reduce the risk on this project for our backers:
1.) The Team
As stated in our bios above, my brother Pat and I have a unique set of skills that enable us to effectively see a project like this across the finish line. We fully understand the timeline, costs, and potential hiccups in the manufacturing process from working on other projects and feel very well prepared.
2.) Personal Investment
We have spent the past several months investing a significant amount of time and money prototyping and perfecting this design and have arrived at an excellent result.
3.) Overall Preparedness
We have created numerous prototypes and conducted many tests to ensure product quality and consistent results. We have also lined up our manufacturing partners and understand their costs and lead times.
- (40 days)