a portrait of the founder of PaqTech, Ray Edwards

(5 minute read)

“After working out, my gym bag smelled like a sewer… I later learned one-in-four bags carry E. coli.” -Ray Edwards, CEO of PaqTech

PaqTech’s portable sanitizing system has been cleaning up, earning over $215K from its two crowdfunding campaigns. They’ve released a self-sanitizing gym bag, PaqSule, and are expanding into backpacks and purses later this year, but they’re not stopping there. With a track record of success and their sights set on expanding, let’s hear what their CEO, Ray Edwards has to say:

What is PaqSule and who is it for?

PaqSule gym bag

Everyone has had the experience of opening up their gym bag and being hit by a stink wave.

PaqSule is a consumer-friendly, self-deodorizing, self-sanitizing, premium duffel. It’s for active people with active lifestyles who benefit from a convenient way of eliminating the germs and smell from their gear.

The problem is bigger than stink. If I’m a thirty-five-year-old parent with a spouse who does crossfit and a ten-year-old who plays hockey, I want to protect my family from the harmful germs going from the practice field or gym to my kid’s bedroom. This is more than just bad smell. It’s a health issue.

How did you develop the idea for PaqSule?

After working out, my gym bag always smelled like a sewer. I talked to my cofounder and we soon realized it’s a ubiquitous problem.

We soon realized sweat was at fault for the odor. Microbes feed off the sweat inside our gear, creating the smell. This became more than an odor issue–it’s about germs. I later learned that one-in-four gym bags carry E. coli.

Neither my co-founder nor I are engineers by trade. Looking back, we started the company on the back of the napkin. We weren’t satisfied by simply masking the odor the way Lysol and Febreeze do. We wanted to solve the problem at its source, by eliminating the microbes without water, sprays, powders, or toxic chemicals.

It took us eight months to find an effective solution. When we found ozone (activated oxygen), we liked it for a few reasons:

  • A short duration of exposure to ozone has been proven through decades of industrial use to reliably kill microbes.
  • Ozone can be self-contained, using the ambient air already existing in a space.
  • Ozone and UV light are completely eco-friendly.

Purification methods are typically stationary, water-intensive, and bad for the environment. Developing PaqSule, we knew people would appreciate a portable, waterless, eco-friendly way to purify gear.

Once we found the combination of ozone and UV, we added lithium-ion power to create PaqSule. (Of course, I’m oversimplifying our process. Even after pinpointing that solution, it took us over a year of R&D to develop a functional version.)

In April 2017, PaqSule’s Kickstarter went live, raising over $100K in under a week.

To what do you credit your crowdfunding success?

Crowdsource campaigns are all about the pre-work. The long nights began fifty days before launch. We brought in an outside consultant who had crowd-funded $1.5M on a previous campaign. He helped navigate the pre-campaign work, including messaging, branding, sourcing, shooting the content, and marketing to existing contacts. Our success is entirely a credit to those fifty days.

Once you launch the campaign, success entirely depends on momentum. Our Kickstarter was funded within our first thirty hours, and 80% of our campaign contributions came from the first few days post-launch. Our $78K IndieGoGo campaign showed similar stats. Backers want to be a part of something successful, so you have to show them at the outset that it’s already moving. The pre-work is key. I can’t emphasize that enough.

Who is using PaqSule today?

On the B2B side, professional sports and NCAA teams are using PaqSule, such as Southern Cal and The New Orleans Saints.

On the B2C side, hockey, soccer, basketball, and football are big markets, as is running/jogging.

Last year, Inside Edition tested gym bags of random people exiting a gym in Manhattan and found that four out of four bags were contaminated. The problem doesn’t end there. 90% of bags carry E. coli, Staph MRSA, or some type of mold fungus. It’s a huge, unknown, disgusting problem. Once people realize, they want to buy PaqSule.

That’s why we’re launching new bag products later this year. We have backpacks and luggage on the way, as well as women’s totes, to purify items like cosmetic brushes that can’t be easily washed.

Why did you make PaqTech’s devices IoT?

As we grow our company and product offerings, a connected product allows for more use cases.

We’ve envisioned a world where a PaqSule duffel connects with your Fitbit to tell you, in addition to your steps, heart rate, and sleep patterns, a funk-o-meter score. How pure or contaminated was your gear? We have some fun applications for this, like competitive funk levels, the same way people compete on steps.

But IoT is for more than fun. One in four bags already carry E. coli and three in four have some type of harmful microbe. Customers have embraced our first generation of products, which provide the one-to-one ability to sanitize gear on-the-go. Going forward, the data and analytics that IoT captures is also a valuable part of the business.

The more data we catch, the more we can help our customers prevent the outbreak of nasty germs. That’s what PaqTech is about, and IoT helps us get there.

Want to try out PaqSule? Visit Getpaqtech.com.

This was an interview with Ray Edwards, CEO of PaqTech and Chief Evangelist of PNDULUM, written by Julian Wise.