TekDry: An Interview with Adam Cookson, CEO & Co-Founder.
September 28, 2017
Ever ruined your smartphone by getting it wet?? You want to get to know TekDry’s mission! TekDry invented, designed and sell machines that are able to fix your wet device. So put away your bag of rice! TekDry as the solution for after your phone is damaged with water; they can recover the device in 30 minutes, with the data intact! You may have seen them on ABC’s show, Shark Tank or you may have seen their machines in action at a Staples location and TekDry recently volunteered to aid the people of Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey at the end of August. We wanted to learn more about this fascinating company so Adam Cookson, Co-Founder & CEO, sat down with us one afternoon to tell us more:
D: What inspired you to create Tekdry?
A: “It came from an innovation project during the executive MBA program at the University of Denver which is where I met Craig Beinecke, co-founder of TekDry. We wanted to come up with a real world business problem & one of the members of the study team came up with this idea of using vacuum technology on wet electronics. He did not have a technical background, I did, so after writing a paper, making a prototype, after a few months of trying, we managed to get something that actually worked!”
D: What was your experience like on Shark Tank?
A: “The actual taping of the show itself took over an hour even though only 10 minutes of it made it on TV. We prepared for about 6 months practicing a 90 second pitch, trying to guess which questions they will ask, & making sure we had the right props. Shark Tank called us to be on the show; sometimes you apply, sometimes it’s casting calls, somehow they heard about us & they gave us a call! The actual event was pretty crazy because all through those 6 months and even up until 5 minutes before taping they were telling us “You know, you might get booted, we might change the schedule, there’s no guarantee of anything.” The actual event was very, very intense. At any one time there were 3 people talking, one of the sharks asked a question, before they were done the next one would ask something and before they were done, they would start making a joke. We were trying to marshall the situation, it was just intense. Also, it is very well edited – what i mean is they put a mic and a camera on everybody so they could selectively choose who is talking. The editors also mix and match answers, so the responses you see us giving, do not match the questions being asked. At the end, it was truly an awesome life experience.”
D: What is the most important thing Tekdry is working on at the moment & how are you making it happen?
A: “I would say there are 3 things. The first one is we are driving increased sales at Staples. We have about 600 machines out now, we are working on getting additional retailers, so we are in discussions with them. The second thing is we are continuing on some more product development both to make a less costly version of our machine but also to make medical versions of our product. The third thing is we are looking to hire for some positions in marketing, sales, and operations.”
D: Where do you see Tekdry in 5 years?
A: “We are looking to broaden the application of our technology. Medical is one place we will be applying our technology, that alone might take 5 years. We are also looking into getting into other applications using our vacuum drying and our circuit board manufacturer and also some food technology application. So really we are continuing to build different aspects, different verticals within the business. We might sell off different verticals independently of each other.”
D: What was your biggest takeaway from volunteering in Texas during the hurricane relief? What was that experience like for you personally?
A: “I went down there with Rob Knapp, one of our investors. Even though we had a lot of support from the team back home helping with logistics and PR, it certainly felt at times like Rob and I were driving into the unknown. As we drove into Houston, we passed fields flooded out and small towns that have been half washed away; we weren’t sure of what we were getting into. So it was a little scary but I feel like having gone through that situation, it’s another life experience I feel much better prepared for a disaster, whether I am helping in one or I am in one. I think one of the biggest takeaways was understanding how reliant we all are on phones and digital technology. You needed a phone in order to take full advantage of the services that were provided there. Even if people didn’t have wet phones, their batteries were dead. If they did have wet phones, then they really were in trouble. Fortunately we were able to help with a lot of that. There were no pay phones, there were no bulletin boards with paper and directions telling you what to do, it is all down to volunteers telling people what to do or people on phones able to look information up.”
Thanks Adam for telling us more about your company! Also, thank you to the crew of TekDry for donating your services to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.