Congratulations to Wearality. The Autodesk Inventing the Future recipient for May.
LifeFuels: Made to Thrive
If you’re reading this, chances are you fall into a similar demographic and lifestyle as myself, and your nutrition may not be as high a priority in your life as say, deadlines or paying your rent, you may have even dabbled in keto powders and Soylent formulas as a shortcut, but never stuck with it (have you ever tasted those formulas? It’s where flavor goes to die.)
Enter LifeFuels, a water bottle that includes a smart nutrition distribution system. Wait what is that? That sounds like marketing spiel. Believe it or not, it isn’t. LifeFuels uses a smart system that tracks your hydration and nutrition levels, and by using 3 consumable custom pods in the bottle, can give you a balance of the vitamins and other nutritional goodness you are probably missing. Why rely on a one size fits all post workout shake, when you can have something tailored to your specific needs and body?
Founded in 2014, like so many startups we’ve talked about over the years of this blog, LifeFuels started from the personal experiences and needs of the founders. after seeing his wife struggle to get the nutrients she needed during pregnancy, Jonathon wanted to develop a way for her to be able to get what she and their baby to be needed without it becoming a nag, or just one more thing to remember in life.
When LifeFuels started, the early iterations of the product were designed through 3rd party contractors, but nobody was satisfied with the results, and just like so many products, this first pass became the foundational work that helped generate funding and to iterate from! To learn more, we talked with Mark from LifeFuels.
In 2015 Mark joined LifeFuels as part of the engineering team and also helped them raise capital and make the world class product they had the vision for. LifeFuels hired a diverse team of both recent graduates and interns as well as seasoned engineers who collaborated to bring the product to life. Just like with staff, affording most CAD systems was out of the question. But in the 21st Century, why are we still clinging onto such antiquated ways of how we think about CAD? Of course, you wouldn’t be reading this, and LifeFuels wouldn’t be in this blog were it not for Fusion 360!
From Startup to initial protypes
LifeFuels started using Fusion 360’s startup license during their early days, growing the company up as they continued to develop the product. They are looking to bring electronics into the mix for the IoT and smart elements of the bottle.
So if you know anything about ECAD or MCAD, chances are you know these two words are really silo’d and the workflows between the two CAD systems are generally quite poor. For a product like LifeFuels, this is unacceptable, the product is very densely packed and smart choices need to be constantly made between the ECAD and MCAD teams, so at LifeFuels, both of these teams were talking to and working with each other daily.
With the workflows and cost challenges addressed, this lean team produced everything in house, taking 20 prototype units with them to be displayed at CES 2018, where they were named a CES 2018 Innovation Award Honoree, and met Keurig, who invested over $20m into LifeFuels. Big beverage companies have been trying to achieve what LifeFuels has done for a long time, but none of them were capable, and the small team they have, were able to bring the project together, and that’s what drew in the attention.
Collaboration is key
Now, I’d like to take a minute to pause here. Over here at Fusion 360 we talk about startups a lot. There’s a simple reason for that, we love startups! But with that, we often skim over things because we hear it so often, that we really really shouldn’t be. It is no small feat for a lean startup to get that much money in investment from a single org. We live in an incredible age where it is possible for an individual with an idea to be a serious contender to companies that have been around for much longer, and who have thousands of staff and a budget that may as well be considered as infinite.
As we continued to speak, Mark mentioned to me that his experiences between electronic team and mechanical teams is that they generally have a mild adversarial relationship, especially when it comes to who gets priority decision making on strategies for the product. However, with Fusion 360 as the CAD of choice, and having everyone working together with blurred lines across their roles, helped to nurture a more seamless relationship between the teams, which in turn leads to a better understanding of the tasks and processes each side uses to arrive on a product!
It may be hard to believe it, but LifeFuels is made up of over 50 components (ever heard of a bottle with more than 50 parts?) and includes some really crazy modern manufacturing techniques like flexible PCBAs, which Mark tells me were actually modeled using the sheet metal tool in Fusion 360!
LifeFuels is available right now, online at lifefuels.com. If you are anything like me, keeping track of your nutrition isn’t something you’re very good at, LifeFuels is here to help!
BONUS! The folks at LifeFuels have generously agreed to offer our Fusion 360 Community early access to their Black Friday special. You can purchase the Welcome Kit (LifeFuels Bottle, Starter Pack of 3 FuelPods, Charging Cable, Cleaning Brush, Carrying Lanyard) for $99 rather than the regular $179 price! The code is: fusion360 and should just be entered upon checkout. Cheers!
If you haven’t tried Fusion 360, download a free trial now.