Fewer than 10% of the billions of plastic products made each year are recycled, and as eco-awareness grows, consumers are calling for reusable products to replace single-use plastics. Chilly’s Bottles, based in London, is a company that has stepped in to meet this demand.
In 2010 James Butterfield was in his final year of university and tired of constantly having to buy plastic bottles whenever he wanted cold water. Spotting the demand for a product that would allow consumers always to have cold water while on the move – and to save money – he worked with a supplier to come up with a replacement for the single-use plastic bottle. It was made from stainless steel to stop the flavour of the contents being tainted; and a double-walled vacuum chamber thermally insulates them.
Butterfield settled on the name Chilly’s to reflect this: the contents stay either chilly or hot like a chilli pepper. He graduated in 2011 and began selling the bottles at Camden Market while working in digital marketing, which is where he met his co-founder, Tim Bouscarle.
Over post-work drinks the two started brainstorming how to drive Chilly’s Bottles forwards. Together they secured £9,000 from the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to develop the business.
Butterfield, 30, and Bouscarle, 31, attribute the company’s explosive growth to a change in their advertising strategy in 2015, when they redesigned the website and began marketing their bottles through social media rather than pitching them to wholesalers.
In just one year sales grew by 815% to £556,000 and they quit their jobs to focus on the company full-time. Two years later Chilly’s Bottles featured in the Fast Track Ones to Watch.
Now it has stormed to the top of the Fast Track 100 league table, growing from a two-person team in January last year, with sales of £11.9m, to a 15-strong company hitting £31.5m this year. A third of its sales are now overseas, mainly in continental Europe.
The bottles are available in 49 colours and designs and can be personalised with a name, business or club logo. This year the company drafted in the illustrator Will the Artist to create three designs celebrating World Oceans Day.
Chilly’s makes 3.5m bottles and coffee cups a year, and the founders donate to the charity City to Sea, which campaigns against plastic pollution. They plan to develop more products to replace single-use items in the food and coffee industries, and to continue expanding internationally.
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