Draft Top Looks To Transform The Standard Beer Can
From beer can to pint glass, two co-workers with the entrepreneurial spirit came together to create a device that has the potential to change how we use the standard beer can forever.
Draft Top co-founders Armand Ferranti and Sean Kelly have created a device that quickly removes the top of a beer can transforming it into a more standard glass ready to drink from. There’s no risk of sharp edges as the device folds the aluminum into itself to prevent any potential harm to the drinker.
By removing the top of the beer can, the drinker won’t be smelling the aluminum as they take a drink, they’ll be getting the aroma of the beer. It will also pour smoother and allow drinkers to easily add limes, oranges or anything else they want to while drinking. The co-founders even see the cans being able to be used for beer pong with the top off.
“It’s amazing how much it affects the taste,” Kelly said. “You don’t get that aluminum taste anymore. There’s no more interference.”
Kelly and Ferranti first met just over three years ago when they began working in the same office in New Jersey. Eight months after first meeting Kelly was transferred out of state, however, the two already had a business idea brewing.
A passion for building things spurred Ferranti to create the Draft Top.
“I went to a mechanic school,” he said. “I’ve always been a very mechanically inclined person. I’ve always had tools around me growing up. I just started to play around with stuff, I was using Google Sketch-Up and from there the product took off.”
Ferranti brought the gadget that could remove the tops of beer cans to Kelly’s attention. Kelly saw the potential right away.
“I instantly saw that this could be huge in the beer industry,” Kelly said. “I had been reading that canning was really going to take off. I told him (Ferranti) to let me help him with this product because it was going to be huge.”
What Ferranti really liked about Kelly was that he didn’t just see a product. He saw more.
“Most people thought it was just a can opener,” Ferranti said. “Sean committed to the fact that it’s more about the experience than the product.”
That’s the overlying theme for the Draft Top so far. While it is a product that removes the tops, the two want the users to see all the potential uses for the Draft Top and how it can improve the experience when drinking from cans. In the Kickstarter video the device purposely isn’t displayed prominently, instead the video shows situations where the Draft Top improves the experience of having a beer can without the top.
The finished product didn’t happen overnight. Ferranti went to beer stores to measure different cans to take down metrics to make sure the Draft Top would work on different sizes. Cans from 8-16 ounces can be opened with the Draft Top, the two believe it will open 19 ounce cans as well.
After getting the measurements, trips to Bed Bath & Beyond followed. They wanted to study different can openers to understand mechanically how they work and the different styles. After 12 prototypes and a lot of tinkering they were ready to launch their Kickstarter.
The Kickstarter goal was set at $75,000, at the time this article was written there were 13 days left and the Kickstarter had raised over $144,000. Kelly and Ferranti didn’t know what to expect when they launched. In the early stages for them it’s not about making a profit on the product, they want to get it into hands of beer lovers everywhere to prove to themselves that it’s a product that can go far. Check out the Kickstarter here.
When mass-producing of the Draft Top begins the cost to produce an individual unit will cost $43.75, backers of the Kickstarter need to put up just $45 to get one from the first batch – leaving virtually no profit early on for the company.
“We will need some kind of strategic partner who can help us grow,” Ferranti said. We’ve had people offer us money but we’d rather have a strategic partner over money. Finding that partner would be a game changer for us.”
Even before the Kickstarter became so successful, there was optimism with the product. Kelly would go to beer tastings and talk to the sales rep or brewer that was there and would explain the product.
“It’s a really hard concept to visualize if you can’t see it,” Kelly said. “I felt pretty good with where we were heading. The people I talked to were really interested in the product.”
Despite Kickstarter pulling in nearly double their goal, there’s a lot of work left for the two. While they are hoping to start fulfilling backers’ orders in early 2016, they admitted there could be a slight delay as they want to refine the design even more.
“If we sent it out the way it is right now I’d be OK with it,” Kelly said. “But we’d really love to get the little tiny things refined to make sure it works flawlessly 100% of the time.”
Refining the little things means the potential for a slight change to the mechanics of the product.
“We want to bring on an industrial designer,” Ferranti said. “It’s getting above my head. The more refined we can make the product the more user-friendly it will be.”
There is definitely a learning curve to the Draft Top the duo admitted. There’s a specific technique in order to successfully remove the top smoothly and easily.
“It’s a technique issue not a strength issue,” Ferranti said. “We’ve had people get it on their first try if they understand the technique you need to use.”
Even Kelly didn’t get it right away.
“It took me a few cans to get it right,” Kelly said. “People will squeeze too hard or too soft, I practiced on soda cans at first so I didn’t waste beer.”
Right now there are just three Draft Tops that have been made. They are hoping to begin mass production soon.
“There’s not a lot of equipment needed to make the Draft Top,” Ferranti said. “You’re paying a small upfront cost. The funding is needed just to meet minimum orders.”
When they are ready to begin production, Ferranti believes mass production can begin in as little as two weeks once they give the go ahead to their manufacturer in New Jersey.
From not being sure the product would ever get popular to having people request 10-12 Draft Tops through Kickstarter, Kelly and Ferranti know they have a potential winner of a product.