Teal Bottle on Desk

Carlson School Alum Invents Must-Have Gadget for Active Trendsetters

Friday, June 19, 2015

It started on the bus. Exhausted from a 10-hour day spent volunteering for a TEDxHennepinAve event, Nadya Nguyen was on her way home when a headache struck. She drank some water, and the headache subsided—but an idea lingered.

In the weeks that followed, she began imagining how technology might help on-the-go consumers stay healthy by remembering to drink water.

Nguyen, ’14 BSB, and her partners (Coleman Iverson, ’13 BFA; Alex Hambrock, ’13 BMA; Daniel Worku, '13 BS; and Alexandra Feeken, ’14 BSB) invented HidrateMe, a water bottle supported by sensor technology that tracks users’ water intake throughout the day and help them improve their hydration habits. HidrateMe connects to a smartphone app that calculates how much water each user should consume and glows when it’s time to drink more.

“When we get busy, drinking water can get lost among many other things we have to do,” says Nguyen. “We wanted to build something that’s elegant and integrates into your life. It should be a seamless experience to track your hydration.”

The Kickstarter campaign to fund production of the Hidrate Me water bottle exceeded its goal fivefold within 24 hours. Thanks to support from thousands of early adopters, the team will bring the product to market by year’s end. But the bottle is only the beginning.

hidrate logo

Nguyen imagines a future where Hidrate Inc. delivers beautiful, connected devices that combine style and technology.

“Not only do we want to create beautiful products, but we also want to deliver a very personalized experience and build a tight knit community around fitness and wellness,"she says. “We want you to be healthiest person you can be. And water is the key component of that.”

As a recent graduate of the Carlson School, Nguyen reflects frequently on lessons she picked up in her classes and applies them to the business. Namely, she leverages concepts she learned from Associate Professor Gedas Adomavicius in her Business Intelligence class to draw business insights from user data.

She also follows the doctrine prescribed by the Carlson Ventures Enterprise—understand your customer.

“In the Carlson Ventures Enterprise, we had to do a lot of ethnographic research to understand the customers and their needs, and we applied a lot of that to Hidrate,” she says. “I think empathy leads the way, and technology catches up. So when we build a feature, we put our customers’ problems up front and use technology to address them.”