KOALAA - The team behind the first hot-water bottle to strap around your body.
A HOT IDEA 🔥💡
Medical student Raffaela Raab and physics student Vincent Beck founded their company while studying and were surprised themselves that they had found a real niche in the market with their hot-water-bottle-belt. We all know a hot-water bottle - but there was no ergonomic way to integrate this tried and tested aid into modern, hectic everyday life.
THE BEGINNINGS 👩🏼⚕️
I'm in the middle of my studies (medicine) and am stuck somewhere between studying biochemistry and googling “I hate biochemistry”. Classic pre-exam behavior. I sit at my desk a lot during times like these, often hunched over books for hours, which are often heavier than the weights I can lift in the gym. My back and stomach hurt alternatingly from sitting hunched over and straight. Then my back hurt again. Then the stomach. Then my head, especially.
Studying for days can be frustrating, you notice that mentally and physically. While I am sinking into my student self-pity, at least one thing still gives me consolation while studying: my hot-water bottle. Wedged between the sweater and the back of the chair, it sometimes even stays where I need it on the lower back. I gave it up on the stomach, because it slips away and keeps tumbling from the stomach surface onto the thighs. OK Good. At least no thigh cramps. Better than nothing!
"Still not an ideal solution", I was thinking when my studying partner Vincent asks me about my warm relationship with my hot-water bottle: "Isn't there anything with which it can just stay in place?". I'm offended at first. He shouldn't badmouth my beloved hot-water bottle. Well, it's not perfect and its design hasn't changed in over 50 years, but it does what it's supposed to do, right? Actually, however, it should effectively warm up where you need it, not too hot in one place, then slip away and be useless elsewhere. Annoying.
THE SOLUTION 👨🏻🎨👩🏼🎨
So we scour the Internet between an open Doccheck-tab and tabs for exam-registration forms. And we find: little. There are carrier bags in which you can put your hot-water bottle - unattractive in design and not very functional. In addition to overpriced warming patches and battery-charged heating belts, we can't find anything I could use to improve my hot water bottle situation.
We probably had to get creative ourselves in order to find a solution. I wanted to combine the elastic material of a back-support belt, which I often had to use in orthopedics, with a traditional hot-water bottle. I wanted additional stability for my spine and to make sure that the hot-water bottle would be wrapped snugly so that it would cling to the body. Vincent and I invested almost 300 euros in developing the first prototypes for the material and the cuts. And after some back and forth with the manufacturer, we actually had a prototype that we could do something with.
the first sketches of the KOALAA hot water bottle belt
THE BIG STEP INTO SALES 📈👨🏻💻👩🏼💻
A company was founded. Start-up capital was scratched together. An Amazon page was created. And sales started. Sounds easy? It wasn't. Not always anyway.
In addition to studying, this often meant working long nights through customs-office papers, coordinating warehouse logistics and generally not trying to throw everything out of the window every day "because it was a waste of energy".
Not much has changed in terms of the stress experienced on the side. Granted - KOALAA: "the first hot water bottle strap around your body" became more and more popular, it slowly it became clear that we had to scale up.
the first prototypes were incrementally improved several times
DER MUT FÜRS FERNSEHEN 😮📺
As a response to a joking suggestion of a friend, I sign up for the Austrian start-up and investor format “2 Minuten 2 Millionen” (click here for the complete article).
In this program, young companies have two minutes to present themselves to five Austrian investors (including Florian Gschwandtner, Martin Rohla, Katharina Schneider, Leo Hillinger, Heinrich Prokop and Hans-Peter Haselsteiner) and to bring their service or product closer to a broad audience.
One question in the application form catches my eye: “Why should your company be on this show?" My answer is, guessingly: “Our little start-up shows up-and-coming entrepreneurs that you can be successful without reinventing the wheel”. When I hit send I feel incredibly cheeky and eloquent, and was actually invited to the casting a few weeks later.
At the casting, I talk about my personal story, my studies and, above all, my beloved grandma, who gave me hot-water bottles to sleep with as a child. A few weeks later I received the invitation to the shooting date for TV.
behind the scenes ©Puls4 Gerry Weber
THE LAST MINUTES BEFORE THE TV APPEARANCE 🍀😱
I feel quite uneasy on set. I walk nervously between my posters, banners, and a pile of my products. Around my stomach, I have wrapped a hot water bottle belt that I impatiently play around with. I am standing next to a company that wants to help people with Parkinson's disease and a man who tells me that his startup teaches programming to women in third world countries. Suddenly I feel really stupid. Why did I think this was a good idea again?
But I don't have time to think anymore; I'm called to the set. We shoot for an hour as I step dramatically through the famous sliding door of "2 Minuten 2 Millionen" (fun fact: these recordings are tinkered together, you can't get to the real set through this corridor) and I give interviews in which I try not to stutter.
Then I practice the pitch that I had been practicing with my friends all weekend long another 100 times. Before I know it, I'm standing in front of the investors.
The rest of it was broadcast on TV - we actually get the cooperation that I never expected in my wildest dreams.
©Puls4 Gerry Weber
CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS 🤓👏🏻
We want to keep developing and are working on the further establishment of the KOALAA brand, while trying to continuously improve our products through close contact with our customers. Due to big demand, the children's version KOALAAkids and a pelvic cooling belt are currently in production. We keep you up to date!
You can always find current collaborations here.
❤️ THANK YOU ❤️
Raffaela and Vincent say thank you. Thanks for your interest. Thank you for your support.
▶Thank you for over 8000 KOALAAs sold all over Europe!◀
Thank you to everyone who gifted the KOALAA hot water bottle belt to their mother, their friend, their father, the nice baker with back pain, their hairdresser and their caregiver, their daughter with period cramps and their grandson with Crohn's disease, their teacher, their brother in the cold Garage and their boss, who has just become a mother, and to themselves.
Let's take care of one another and be there for one another.
❤️ Warm around the stomach, around the back and warm around the heart. ❤️
Do you have any questions about the product? You can find more information here.
You can order here.