MADE Winners - Functional Product Category

By Staff Reports, posted Feb 26, 2016

Doogie Box

Year established: 2014 | Number of employees: 1

Top local official: Daniel Dugan, founder

Company description: Doogie Box makes kits that are able to harvest rinse water from a washing machine and use it for landscape irrigation. The kit consists of a valve to redirect rinse water outside, a drum to catch the water and a soaker hose for slow release distribution. The system reduces demand for city water and related household costs, reduces flow to the wastewater treatment plant and supports green plants and root systems, which anchors soil and recharges aquifers.

Target market: "My target market is the Southwest where people are running out of clean water. I also hope to raise awareness closer to home where we have our own water issues such as saltwater incursion into aquifers in Wrightsville Beach."

How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? “I was listening to the radio, and they were talking about how bad the drought had become in California. I was doing laundry, and that’s when I realized I could make this kit and help this problem. I am experienced in pipefitting and water treatment … Our mission is to provide a simple, affordable kit that saves money, saves water and supports the environment.”

How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? "Water is a most precious resource and is necessary for any kind of development. We can support economic growth by better managing our water so it is available for expansion. Furthermore, the business may be able to provide work for incarcerated people, helping their rehabilitation."

Koolbridge Solar Inc.

Year established: 2013

Number of employees: 12

Top local official: Paul Dent, founder, chief scientist, chief patent officer and director

Company description: Koolbridge Solar designs, develops and sells solar-ready, electric products. Its initial product, the Smart Load Center, maximizes the use of free solar energy when the sun is shining and only pulls power from the grid when solar is not available. The company has three granted U.S. patents and nine additional patent-pending applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, including "a microcontroller inside the Smart Load Center that uses algorithms to keep the electricity flowing seamlessly, especially during grid outages, and maximizes the cost savings for the consumer.   It manages the homeowner’s energy usage right down to the circuit breakers, and will provide information to the homeowner as to where and when energy is being utilized throughout the home."

Target market: Primary focus is new and existing residential homes. Others are supermarkets, restaurant chains, gas stations and big box retailers; the international market; apartment buildings, condominiums and town homes; inverter market; and combiner market.

Company growth: “During the last 12-months Koolbridge Solar Inc. has spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy focused on those strategic areas we deem necessary to help ignite technological and revenue growth while giving us the ability to manage that growth. These areas include: raising $1.5 million to help fund our efforts, establishing and building relationships with potential strategic partners (ABB, Nest Labs, Schneider-Electric, Cape Fear Solar, etc.), establishing and building strategic relationships with potential third-party manufacturing companies (Anuva, Bi-Link, Flextronics), building our go-to market business plan, employing an engineering staff to get our initial product market ready, opening up conversations with Underwriter's Lab (UL) personnel prior to submitting our product for UL approval, producing marketing materials, including brochures and website updates, that will support our go to market strategies, and employing management personnel in key areas of the business including, finance, marketing, engineering. We believe these actions, during the last 12-months, position the company for significant growth during the next two-years and beyond."

How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? "One of our co-founders was without electricity for over two weeks when a hurricane came through North Carolina.  As former chief scientist of Ericsson, he quickly became very interested in the availability of alternative energy in both normal and crisis conditions. His research uncovered an extraordinary opportunity in solar energy due, in large measure, to the utilization of older technology in the capture, distribution and management of solar energy. The solutions being presented by Koolbridge Solar Inc. utilizes state-of-the-art technology to take advantage of the sun's energy, when it is available, and the electrical grid when it is not, thus providing the homeowner with a more efficient-energy management system that also reduces energy costs."

How has your product helped impact the region's economic development? "Although the product is still in the early stages of final development, Koolbridge Solar Inc. has doubled its workforce in the last 12 months and will continue to increase our staff as the product gets closer to and then is finally launched into the market. We believe that this product will also help increase the employment of various companies within the solar field including solar installers and third-party contract manufacturing companies."


Year established: 2000 | Number of employees: 47

Top local official: Michael McWhorter, CEO

Company description: In business for over 15 years, Mojotone is an amplifier cabinet manufacturer and amplifier parts supplier. Its line has grown to include all parts of the vintage, boutique and current production tube amp market and offers a complete line of guitar parts, pickup parts and guitar restoration supplies, including a premium line of handmade guitar and bass pickups.

Target market: “Guitar players of every age, style and skill level.”

Company growth: “In the last few years we have introduced and expanded a full line of guitar and bass pickups. Our speaker cabinet division has grown, offering more vintage reproduction items as well as a wider variety of custom cosmetic options. We have revamped our image online and in print media, and we recently implemented an entirely new website that will make the online shopping experience 10 times more user friendly.”

How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? "After many years of offering contract manufacturing for numerous amplifier companies, we had gained a ton of knowledge regarding the design and manufacture of guitar amps. When we finally decided we wanted to start offering our own line of amplifiers, we knew we wanted to do something that no one else was doing. Most of our employees are musicians, so we put our heads together to come up with a line of amps that would suite the needs of as many players and venues as possible. From an aesthetic standpoint, we simply wanted to create something that looked unique but that still remained timeless."

How has your product helped impact the region's economic development? "Not only does Mojotone employ 47 local workers, but we also utilize other local businesses to get our job done. For instance Wilmington Box handles all of our packaging needs, and we also rely on a number of local print shops for various promotional items."

What are your future goals for the product? “Worldwide distribution of our amplifiers is an immediate goal, also the expansion of the amp line itself to include bass amps and potentially even custom cosmetic options.”

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