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Taking Five: North Drinkware

Matt Capozzi on The Oregon Pint.

Matt Capozzi, Cinco’s Product Experience Director, talks about North Drinkware and the successful Kickstarter campaign that got every beer lover's attention.

Tell us a little bit about the team!

We're a team of three friends that have years of combined experience in product design, engineering, marketing, and communications. We all live in Portland, Oregon and in addition to starting North Drinkware, Nic and I also work here at Cinco.

My background is in brand strategy, marketing, design, development, and product innovation. I started my career at Burton Snowboards and worked at Gravis Footwear and Nixon before moving up to Portland, where I worked with Nike's TechLab/Digital Sport team. Currently, I'm the Product Experience Director at Cinco, where I've been able to bring and leverage all of my experience for clients like Nixon and Smith, as well as with up-and-coming brands like James and Hungry Eyewear. And now I get to leverage this experience for our work at North Drinkware.

Leigh Capozzi, my wife and business partner, brings experience working in marketing, PR, and communications for action sports, lifestyle and outdoor brands to our project at North. She started her career at Burton too, which is where we met, then worked in advertising and subsequently for Snowboarder Magazine. Since moving to Portland, she's worked on projects at Ziba Design, Nau, and NYC based PR firm Mfa supporting west coast clients. So naturally, she's in charge of all of North's PR, communications, partnerships and all day-to-day aspects of North Drinkware.

Nic Ramirez is my right hand here on Cinco's product team. After studying economics at UC Santa Cruz and mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, Nic made a jump into product design. While living in northern California, he worked in product development as a mechanical engineer for companies like Acorn Product Development and Jawbone. Since living in Portland, he's been helping lead the product design team at Cinco. His technical skills and problem solving are much of the reason North exists today.

North Hero

How did the project start?

About a year ago, Nic and I were talking over beers and sharing stories of our dissatisfaction with the typical pint glass, and the lack of a good alternative that's locally made and connects with the craft beer mindset. After some further brainstorming we landed on the idea of a glass that unearths a sense of place. All three of us have a deep love for the mountains; it's a big reason we're here in Oregon, and so that was where we focused. From there we went through a series of concepts, ultimately landing on The Oregon Pint and focusing on showcasing Mt. Hood on the bottom in all her glory.

How do you make the glasses?

It's been over a year in the making to refine our process. The last six months have heated up since we officially formed North Drinkware and have been prototyping in the glass studio. The first glasses looked terrible, but we knew The Oregon Pint had potential. Making a North glass takes two days and has over 10 steps to the process. Each glass is hand blown in Portland into a custom mold. The glasses are placed in an annealing furnace to be brought down to room temperature overnight before we cut and flame polish the lip of the glass, then anneal the glass again to give the glass the strength it needs to withstand a solid cheers with a buddy.

What do you think were some of the contributing elements that made this project so successful?

We think the story, product simplicity, communication, PR and service were all contributing elements to the success of our Kickstarter campaign. We worked really hard on communicating the North story clearly and emotionally so potential backers could easily understand our product proposition and our passion for the project. The Oregon Pint's connection to Mt. Hood and the mountains gives the product a singularity and authenticity that resonates beyond the North founders.

Communications was also a key element of success. We tapped into every network the three of us had from social media, LinkedIn, college alumni networks, friends throughout various industries, and brands to share internally to all-staff. We also launched an aggressive PR campaign pre-launch and cold called, pitched and networked national and local media to ensure coverage beyond our networks. Throughout the campaign we were diligent about responding to all comments, questions, emails, and social media connections within a day and often within a few hours. Treating your customers and backers as friends and supporting them as best as you can goes a long way. People like it when you get back to them!

Favorite thing about Mount Hood?

There is so much we love about it. Being able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Hood from Portland reminds us that there is adventure to be had up there. We love all the seasons up there, but a real highlight for all 3 of us is snowboarding in the winter. There's nothing like powder turns under the lights at Ski Bowl on a Wednesday night (on the years when it snows). Our favorite thing about Mount Hood these days though? Seeing her peek back up at us from the bottom of our glasses.