Drink Up: Coleman Iverson (BFA '13 Graphic Design) Keeps Customers 'Hidrated'

How many ounces of water did you drink today? No idea? You’re not alone.

Coleman Iverson (BFA ’13 Graphic Design), Alex Hambrock (BME ’13), Alexandra Feeken (BSB ’14 ), and Nadya Nguyen (BSB ’14) have designed an easy way to stay hydrated and energized. Their company, Hidrate, is building a smart water bottle that automatically tracks its user’s water intake and sets a daily goal while syncing to a smartphone app that reminds them to drink. They were accepted into the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator, where they share an open co-working space with nine other tech startups focused on improving health.

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As chief creative officer, Iverson develops the brand and marketing materials, manges UX and UI design of the app and website, and drives the design of the bottle itself. He credits his graphic design classes for teaching him how to brand a company with the customer in mind. “I also learned that pushing the boundaries of design and taking the risk and trying something on your own will also teach you a great deal about what it takes to be an entrepreneur,” he said. And he gained valuable experience outside of the classroom — “being president of DSAB helped me learn leadership skills and gain confidence speaking in front of people, which is something that will definitely help me throughout the growth of our business.”

While Iverson is the only formally trained designer, the team integrates integrate design thinking into every aspect of their business. “Within a tech startup accelerator, design is not the first thing on most peoples minds, but our team believes it is the core strength of our business and what will set us apart from all the other water bottles on the market,” he explained. And working with colleagues outside graphic design exposes him to manufacturing, product design, marketing, and business. “We like to have informal teaching times, where we inform each other on our areas of expertise.”

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His advice for entrepreneurial design students? Treat every assignment as a chance to develop a product or business they’d like to create after graduation. “That’s what I did, and I found that it made me think about the business side […] and the market and the effective ways to get your brand in front of your market.” He also emphasized the importance of assembling a strong team. “Find people that you get along with and are passionate about the same things that you care about. Make sure everyone is a good fit, because starting a business is hard and stressful, and if it is with the wrong people that only makes it more difficult.”