How many times have you been to a festival or sporting match and have been so engrossed in what you are watching that you are loathed to leave your seat and stand in a queue to buy yourself a drink?
This is exactly where the idea of Jetpacks Drinks Dispensers came from.
Whilst visiting the United States on holiday David Lloyd, the founder of Jetpacks, was at a baseball match and witnessed for himself people walking amongst the spectators selling drinks and snacks.
“Well, the idea of having someone bringing the drink to me instead of queueing at the bar immediately appealed. The more I thought about it, the more I could see how people would welcome backpack drinks dispensers in many different arenas, wherever there are crowds, and also what a great way this could be to sample new products. The potential was immediately obvious so I decided to set up a business based in the UK designing and producing them.”
Based initially in Warrington, Jetpacks soon expanded and moved to offices in Marple, where it is still based today, over fifteen years later.
The Jetpack itself was the first drink dispenser we looked into and David spent some time with the aid of researchers at Leicester University to determine the optimum shape of the backpack, given the variability in the length of the human spine.
“We needed to determine how best to design a flexible frame for the Jetpack in order to give maximum comfort and support to the wearer. With Health and Safety being very much at the forefront of the design it would have been too easy to cheapskate on the materials and risk the possibility of operators being hurt by overloading a poorly-designed backpack. Nobody wants that and nor do they want to risk a claim against their employer in these crazy days!”
Over the years other companies have tried to copy and mimic the Jetpacks range, but have fallen short with risk management and Health & Safety because of the quality and thought that has gone into the Jetpacks’ ergonomics and its integral frame. It can comfortably fit small and large operators with a wide range of adjustments to balance the weight of the drinks between shoulders and hips.
What drinks can Jetpacks dispense? Pretty much any product, hot or cold, carbonated or still, as long as it doesn’t have bits in it which tend to clog up the nozzle at the end of the hose. It’s insulation properties are superb and it can keep a drink at its intended temperature for up to three hours. And if you haven’t sold or sampled your drinks in three hours, there’s something wrong somewhere!
Carbonated? The key to this is to pour the carbonated drink – beer, lager, cola etc – into the Jetpack when it is already nicely chilled to a couple of degrees above freezing. The Jetpack then needs only to be pressurised with an air compressor in order to keep the temperature and the carbonation constant for hours. In a carbonation test for Coca Cola, the Jetpack kept the drink perfectly carbonated for several days. Not that we’d recommend drinking it after that length of time – and the temperature had risen in the summer temperatures in our warehouse though!
We did pursue an option of adding a small highly compressed mini gas cylinder (CO2) into the backpack, but there are several issues here. The legislation surrounding miniature highly compressed gas cylinder is open to varying interpretation and prohibitions in many different jurisdictions, and having researched this in several countries and languages, we concluded that there are simply too many risks in going down this road. The risk to the operator could be catastrophic if something went wrong when they are effectively carrying such a dangerous item on their backs, and any potential claim, especially in the light of the imprecise untested legislation, could easily be in the millions. That’s a claim that nobody wants to happen, so we advise against this form of dispensing carbonated drinks, especially if the operators are filling the mini cylinders themselves without specified supervision from the proper authorities.
Throughout our 20-year history, we have also been instrumental in setting up several people who wished to start up their own franchise or even a competing business and who have come to us for help and advice. We sell Jetpacks to customers all around the world – competition is a good thing!
One of our first major customers was Nestle UK and we were very proud to be the major player as part of their 40-year celebrations of Nescafé coffee, giving away a million cups of coffee on major railway stations throughout Britain. A diverse range of celebrities have sported a Jetpack!
We have not only worked with major international brands, but also inspired individuals who have seen an opening to sell coffee and a croissant to commuters in the London busy tube stations during rush hours, chilled bottles of water on the beaches of northern Italy, tea and coffee to the parents watching from the sidelines of their child’s Sunday morning football game, hot chocolate at car boot sales – even skiing down the slopes to give 007 his morning coffee whilst filming …. the variety of uses has been amazing. Jetpacks is popular as a novel and eye-catching way to get brands noticed as well as being practical and profitable!
David, keen to keep the business in the family, passed the reins to his younger sister, Helen, in 2010 and she now heads all aspects of the business. However, he remains very proud of his baby (Jetpacks, not Helen) and still enjoys getting involved, especially with any redesigns and improvements to the products which we’ve made over the years, and continue to view as work in progress.