How 15-Year Old Carter Kostler Is Turning Water Into Gold
Carter Kostler is the founder of 1 Teen Entrepreneur and the inventor of the Define Bottle, voted one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Most Brilliant Companies in 2013. His Define Bottle is already selling out in popular retail stores like Whole Foods, and online through his website, but this fifteen year old is probably most proud of the opportunities that Define Bottle presents to others.
Seeing the lack of alternatives to soda and sports drinks represented at his school, Carter started to do some research. After reading the serious statistics behind childhood obesity, Carter knew there had to be a better way to get people healthy, yet flavorful options to drink that didn’t include all the sugar. Taking a nod from his mom’s own homemade fruit infused water pitchers, he decided to design a water bottle that would allow for fruit infusion, in a portable and easy way. What he came up with was the Define Bottle. Not only does it help provide healthy alternatives to soda and energy drinks for the masses, but Carter also provides a portion of all proceeds to The Alliance For A Healthier Generation, of which he’s also a Youth Advisory Board Member. In addition to that, Carter was also a national finalist in Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a healthier America’s End Childhood Obesity Innovation Challenge.
And on Thursday night, he’ll be appearing in front of the panel of judges on ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank. How does one guy achieve all this at the young age of fifteen? I caught up with Carter to ask him.
What gave you the idea to create them and how did you transform that idea into a business?
I wanted to come up with a healthy, natural way for people to hydrate when on the go. The first thing I did was create a few sketches of my idea and presented it to my parents. Fortunately, they thought it was a great idea and supported going forward with the idea. We went through a lot of work such as finding an industrial designer to bring my idea to life and having to work with a patent attorney to make sure my idea was not already patented. I felt like it really became a business when we had product and I was up late fulfilling orders. It was great seeing the orders come in and knowing that there were customers out there that wanted to order a product that I invented.
What has been your biggest challenge in getting started with Define Bottle? How have you overcome it?
Manufacturing has certainly been our biggest challenge. When we received our first shipment, the bottles were defective and I was really disappointed. We worked with our industrial designer to find a new manufacturer and now the bottles are perfect. There are a lot of highs and lows when you own your own business. It is a constant roller coaster and you really never know what the next day will bring. I would say that is one of the best and worst parts of being an entrepreneur – you never know what is around the corner. Another challenge has been learning to balance a business and still be a kid. I have had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to make Define Bottle successful but fortunately my friends and family are really supportive. My friends often help me fill orders and get the job done.
You recently filmed an episode on ABC’s Shark Tank that airs next week on March 14th- what was that like? Were you nervous?
Unfortunately, I can’t say too much about Shark Tank until it airs but yes, I was certainly nervous and am excited to see the episode on March 14th!
What are your plans for the future; will you keep designing and inventing?
Yes! I have new versions ready to come out and will continue to work on my mission of trying to get people off of soda. This past year has been exciting and it may be hard to top. I met President Clinton (he received our first 600 bottles for the attendees of his Health Matters Conference), met the First Lady at the Partnership for a Healthier America conference where I spoke in front of 800 people, filmed for Shark Tank, made Entrepreneur’s top 100 most brilliant companies of the year, and sold thousands of bottles. Being an entrepreneur is exciting – once you start it is hard to stop.