Growing up in New England, Anthony Goldman spent a lot of time outdoors. He hiked the Appalachian trail, ran track, and he raced bicycles for years after college. But it wasn’t until later he determined that athletics would play a role in his career. An attorney by trade, Goldman went through law school before deciding to turn onto the entrepreneurial path.
Sadly, it all began with a couple of harrowing life experiences. His sister died of sudden cardiac arrest while running on a track in New York City in 2002.
“[She was] Perfectly healthy, living the life,” says Goldman. “She was actually in Columbia a month earlier. We ran a race together… And then she was gone.”
In 2008, Anthony started experiencing medical problems as well. He collapsed on a run in the Shandon area of Columbia, and found himself in Providence Hospital.
“It was scary,” says Goldman. “There was that tear-jerking moment when my cardiologist came in and told me ‘You’re never going to run or do any exercise ever again.’ I almost hit the floor.”
Fortunately, there were some very positive moments during that stay in the hospital as well.
“Those five days in the hospital were a period of time where I did a lot of reflecting on my life,” says Goldman. “What I’ve accomplished, what I’d like to accomplish.”
Anthony believes his medical experience helped put things in perspective for him.
“I think we’re all naturally afraid of failure,” says Goldman. “But I just realized that there really is nothing at stake. You only live once. Unfortunately, I’ve not only lost my sister, but I’ve lost a couple of really good friends. I’ve lost some really important people in my life, people who were positive influences on me. And they all lived their lives to the fullest degree. I just realized that you have to go for it.”
For Anthony Goldman, that meant trying to create something all his own.
“I had always had a lot of good ideas, I just never followed through with any of them,” says Goldman. “So I bought some CAD software and started tinkering. I was learning about the 3-D prototyping process, and manufacturing products… fast-forward a year, I felt I had honed my skills enough that I could prototype something to where I could test it myself.”
Anthony was on a bike ride one day when he noticed he had to slow down to reach for his water bottle. Frustrated by this distraction in his workout, he began to envision a way to help alleviate the problem. This led to the launch of Koala Bottle in 2012.
The bottle is equipped with a magnetic ring that snaps in place onto a holster bolted down on a bike. The idea in Goldman’s design is the rider can easily move the bottle in and out of its magnetic holding place from his or her bike seat, without having to slow down to wiggle it into a traditional holder. He believes active individuals sometimes leave other water bottles behind because they do not want to be encumbered while they perform their activities.
“If you’re walking, if you’re running, cycling, that is the primary thing that you’re doing,” says Goldman. “The hydration process should be secondary, almost unconscious. You can easily get to your water, but you’re hands-free and you’re able to appreciate what you’re doing.”
As in his decision to pursue an entrepreneurial path, those close to Anthony became positive influences on his design process for Koala Bottle.
“I showed it to friends who weren’t going to say ‘Oh that’s great’ and watch me trip over myself,” says Goldman. “I shared it with people whose opinions I valued, who I knew would give me constructive feedback and help me.”
He pitched his idea to several of his closest workout friends. One recommended removing a magnet from the bottom of the bottle holder to reduce costs. Another suggested it could be used for more activities than simply biking. Thus, Anthony designed a version of his product that straps around a runner’s midsection.
“It was neat that people saw different applications for the ring and bottle,” says Goldman.
In addition, a friend at the machine shop at USC who is a master welder helped Anthony design the first ring for Koala Bottle.
But perhaps most importantly, it was a conversation with a friend that encouraged Anthony to pursue the creation of Koala Bottle in the first place.
“Sometimes it was difficult to sleep at night, thinking about spending the money to launch my own product,” says Goldman. “But I had some interesting philosophical conversations with friends. One of my friends told me, ‘Look, you don’t live an expensive lifestyle. You don’t buy expensive clothes or drive an expensive car. Think of Koala Bottle as your expensive car. You’re not going to buy a BMW, you drive a Honda Civic. This is your BMW. Enjoy it.’”
Fast-forward to the present. Anthony has traveled to trade shows in Las Vegas to meet with companies and distributers from all across the world. These meetings are already starting to pay off.
“On any given day, orders will come in from Europe, South America, Canada, Japan,” says Goldman. “We have a very strong relationship with a Japanese distributer, and it’s selling really well in Japan.”
Goldman is hoping to partner with a nutritional goods provider in the future to, as he puts it, bridge the gap between activity and nutrition. He also wants to partner with local races and charities.
“Good partnerships are what really make a successful company.”
And strong relationships are what make a successful life. Anthony Goldman knows that from experience.
Startup Spotlight Interview: Part 1
Startup Spotlight Interview: Part 2
Startup Spotlight Interview: Part 3
Startup Spotlight Interview: Part 4