Here's our story (so far)...

We'll keep adding to it whenever we do something interesting.

Just an Idea...

My name is Max.

That's me on the right holding the small human being. 

 Soo Jin (my crazy awesome wife) was looking for plastic alternatives for our kids in August 2017, but we couldn't find anything we loved. 

There was a book we were reading to our kids at the time called "What Do You Do With an Idea?" by Kobi Yamada that made me want to show our 2 girls (Evelyn + Penelope) what this looks like in the real world. 

So I contacted 37 different manufacturers and spent the next 2 years prototyping a kids cup that we would feel confident giving to our own kiddos. 

14 Prototypes

The reason why it took us 2 years to officially launch our cups was because we kept finding ways to improve.

We had no interest in selling an "off the shelf" cup because that's what everybody else was already doing.

A big part of this process was also figuring out how to get the colors just right.

None of our colors are "standard colors" (except for black and white), so making sure we were able to get our colors right took nearly a year.

Neither my wife nor I had a background in stainless steel cups. I got my degree in mechanical engineering, but that's about it.

I researched a TON and learned small bits here and after applying everything, we launched our first version on Amazon and made our very  first sale August 4, 2019.

Serendipity

Two months after our official launch, I reached out to my friend Kyle (lead designer of the original Google Chromecast) to get his input for our design.

He happened to be working with the founder of HydroFlask and asked if I wanted an intro.

Gosh, it was like getting a master class in stainless steel cups and manufacturing best practices.

The very first question I asked was if he was connected with any US manufacturers.  He told me that there are actually no manufacturers in the US for stainless steel cups.  ☹️

Everything I learned was implemented into our design. I also learned about the Children's Product Certificate.

A 3rd party test is required from a lab accredited by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Basically, it ensures there is ZERO lead, phthalates, sharp edges, BPA or other toxins and chemicals.

Was this required to sell on Amazon?  No.

Did we do it any way?  Oh you better believe we did!

Color Expansion

With only 2 color sets on the market so far, Soo Jin thought we should expand into new colors.

On February 22, 2020, she sent me an email with color swatches of 2 new color sets.

It took us 2 months to finally get the colors right, but on May 9, 2020... we had the new colors available on Amazon.

We sold out of everything in 16 days.

Warehouse

In the first 6 months of 2020, we experienced the crushing blow of going out of stock 11 times.

Eventually, it made sense to get a warehouse and make a significant investment in building a stockpile of our inventory.

You'd think I would've arrived at this decision a little faster, but our growth always eclipsed the inventory forecasts I created.

My wife and I put about $300,000 of our own money.

Even to this day, we're still running into stockout issues.  Just not as much or as severe as before.

COVID 19

2020 was a year for the history books.

Schools started shutting down.  Many parents had to scramble to figure out how to start home schooling their kiddos.

Us included.

As soon as the WHO declared it a global pandemic, I spent the next week calling our customers to ask what we could do to support them.

"Anything to help with home  schooling" or "How to keep my kid entertained so I can have a break" were the most common things I heard.

Soo Jin has wanted to create books for a while now and with parents needing a break every now and then, it just made sense to look into making sticker / activity books.

Mosaic Book

This was technically the first sticker book we started working on.

My wife found an incredible designer in Switzerland who had a very large Instagram following.

We reached out on March 22, 2020 and got a response less than 6 hours later.

After sharing our initial ideas for a mosaic book to help kids learn the alphabet, she agreed to partner withh us to turn our ideas into reality.

Our final artwork was delivered to our manufacturer late December.  This launched in February 2021.

The learning curve to produce a book of this magnitude was steeper than any one of us could've imagined.

I'm incredibly proud of what we created and I hope you and your kids love it!

Sticker Books

Once we hired Helen for the mosaic book, we started the search for another artist who could create a sticker book we had in mind.

We saw one fundamental flaw with the sticker books on the market.

All of the scene pages were in the front and all of the sticker sheets were in the back.

What separates our sticker books is not just the incredible artists we partner with, but the fact that the sticker books are spiralbound.

This not only lets the book lie flat on the table, but also allows us to have the sticker sheet right next to the scene.

No more flipping back and forth.

It took us 7 months to get this sticker book into the market, but we built our procedures and our next book will only take 3 months.

Bigger Sizes

By this point, Cupkin has already become one of the best-selling kids cups on Amazon.

Soo Jin thinks we should come out with a black/white option.

I personally think it's not a good idea, but we move forward because I've learned that my wife is smarter than me.

A ton of customers have asked about bigger sized cups, so we came out with a 12 oz option on July 2, 2020.

We were sold out by July 15.  Good thing I listened to my wife (again) right?

More New Colors

I discovered the flaw behind the way I was forecasting our revenue.

My ecommerce business experience was in the sports nutrition space so we factored in expiration dates into our forecast models.

It took me 7 months to realize that cups don't expire.

So my wife and I invested another hefty check into expanding our stockpile.

We also came out with 2 new color sets.  And by "we", I mean the "Royal We". 😉

I Hate Logistics...

We had just moved our warehouse to Bennett, Colorado at the end of November.

A week later, dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of cartons arrive at our old warehouse.

I literally had to borrow Soo Jin's dad's Toyota Highlander to do multiple trips back and forth to get all of the cartons to our house.

Luckily, we still had our tape dispenser and a bunch of extra boxes that we forgot to send with the truck.

No freight companies had availability to get this  to Bennett for 3 weeks so I had to do the inevitable.

From Thursday morning until Monday evening, my wife and I used our dining area to make boxes, pack thousands of orders and get them ready to ship.

TAG Team

I'll never forget the first time I asked Evelyn for advice on handling a customer service email.

There was a customer who messaged us in our 3rd week of being in business.

She said that the cups were too big for her daughter and demanded a refund.

I asked Evelyn what she would do in this situation and without even thinking about her answer, she said "Maybe its almost her daughter's birthday."

So I responded and told her that she had been refunded and the cups were hers to keep because Evelyn wanted to gift her.

Her demeanor completely shifted and Evelyn saw how money can have a powerful impact on people.

Since then, customer appreciation has always been our measure of success, so we assembled a team of incredible rockstars to show love and appreciation to our customers.

TAG stands for "Tactical Appreciation Group".

That's a Dozen

If the Gathre brand were to start making cups, I'd imagine these are the colors they might choose.

My wife is a fan of the Gathre brand, so that's where the inspiration came from on these next 5 colors.

Launch date of these new colors were January 27, 2021.

These 5 new colors along with our current 7 colors makes 12.

Kyreen Acquisition

We had a very unique opportunity to acquire a diaper bag brand called Kyreen.

Cupkin products are geared towards in-home use.  

The main reason for the acquisition is because we wanted to get into wet bags and I felt the new brand would be a great opportunity to start developing on-the-go products.

With the vaccine entering the arms of people across the world, travel is something that will eventually happen again...I PROMISE.

We'll start developing post-COVID products now for families who start to travel in the future. 

M-m-m-mosaic!

From the time we hired Helen to start creating this book, it took 316 days for us to stumble our way through manufacturing to get this complete.

It took so long because it's literally 10 times bigger than other mosaic books on the market.

We have 52 activity pages and 3,150 stickers.

Each letter of the alphabet has 2 pages for your kiddos to learn and practice the alphabet.

It's actually a pretty amazing product that parents enjoy as well (not that I'm biased or anything).

Lids [Upgraded]

One of the nice things about being a small business is that we get to focus on what we WANT.

Part of that is reading every single review we get and listening to what our customers tell us.

One of the issues we kept hearing was that kids were pulling out the straws easily.

So we re-engineered the straw holder so that the straw fits much tighter and doesn't pull out easily.

We also started using a much stronger polymer with more shatterproof properties.

A Magical World.

Our 3rd sticker book launched in August 2021. This book took quite a while to produce because we made 2 very big improvements:

1) Added coloring pages on the blank pages, so now all of our sticker books will not only be "sticker books, but also "coloring books"

2) Found a much better coating film for the sticker sheets for easier peeling and less ripping

Matching Bowls!

We started prototyping our double-wall insulated stainless steel bowls.

They'll be offered in 2 different sizes: 13 oz and 25 oz. The bowls will match our cups in terms of finish and color.

Oh and by the way, the bowls you see to the right are just 3D printed models. The real ones will be powder-coated stainless steel.

20 oz (Venti) cups

It all started with the 8.5 oz cups.

Then we made 12 oz cups.

Finally, we're coming out with 20 oz cups.

New size, new market, still CPSC-compliant and tested for safety.

Experiences...

For as long as I can remember, my dream was to open up a resort one day and provide next-level experiences.

We came across the opportunity to buy a home in Scottsdale, Arizona that was already an established AirBnB listing.

The long-term idea is to use this (and other homes we acquire around the world) to show parents how much we appreciate them by providing unforgettable and thoughtful experiences for them and their kids.

Lids [Version 3]

This is our 3rd iteration of our lids. Every time we upgrade our lids, we pay a mould fee of just under $10,000.

We rely heavily on customer feedback so this 3rd update had the following improvements:

1) Added notch on black plastic tab to "click" the tab to the lid in the open position.

2) Increased the thickness of the rear tab to reduce breaking and to make it easier to pull the lid off.

3) Improved coating / structure of the rubber gasket to provide an even stronger seal.

More to come

My wife and I are incredibly thankful for the growing community of parents we get to connect with and become friends with every day through the products we make.

Impacting more parents around the world is the only thing that continues to drive this business.

We'll continue adding to this page when we hit new milestones that are worth sharing, but until then... we're here for you if you need anything.

p.s. - would you consider partnering with us?

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Where are you guys located?

We live in Bothell, Washington.  ~30 minutes north of Seattle.  

Are you open to hearing new product ideas?

Abso-freaking-lutely!!!  Let us know what you had in mind and depending how much you want to be involved, we can talk about partnering together.

Are you hiring?

Our hiring process is a bit unique. If you have a particular skillset, shoot us a message and make a compelling case why we need to hire you.

What is Cupkin's long-term vision?

From the beginning, the reason behind Cupkin was to show our 2 girls that you can take any idea, do something with it and impact people all around the world.  This is still our mission and if we ever decide to sell, it'll only be for the reason that the new company can provide an even better customer experience than we ever could.

900,000+

CUPS DELIVERED

6,300+

5 STAR REVIEWS ON AMAZON

100%

CPSC-COMPLIANT & TESTED