Inspired by tried-and-true emergency responder protocols, our co-founder Justin Li initially thought to combine first aid science with athletic base layers while on duty as a sworn law enforcement officer in the California desert. Faced with difficult terrain, a formidable adversary, heavy protective gear, and high altitude, Justin was looking to improve his odds in the field. Unwilling to add more weight to his kit, he realized that efficiently offloading heat to stay hydrated was the best way to boost his endurance, strength, focus and recovery. After the mission, he realized that solving this problem could have implications far beyond just law enforcement. Improving performance through hydration could help any human who sweats—especially athletes seeking a competitive performance advantage and the military (particularly near and dear to Justin given how many close friends he has lost, were deployed or are still downrange in Active Duty service). Armed with Otter Pops, a sewing machine he barely knew how to turn on, and his favorite compression shorts, he set out to build the first prototypes. After hacking together some crude samples, Justin then teamed up with former Stanford Baseball player and problem-solving guru J.D. Willcox to form Qore Performance. Taking a crash course in apparel design and American manufacturing, J.D. and Justin traveled the country to source and build out the Wearable Hydration (WHT) line, culminating in a set of premium next-gen USA-made products that boosts hydration by 40%, giving athletes a distinct competitive advantage on the field.
We successfully launched another WHT innovation--The Hydration Shirt--on Kickstarter in late 2015. During the campaign, an office associated with the US Army called and asked if we would be interested in licensing WHT. They told us they were looking for a way to solve the “soldier-cooling” problem under body armor, downrange. But while WHT is a potent and efficient weapon in helping your body offload heat, we also knew that there would be some situations, such as extended missions and desert deployments with limited infrastructure, where operators simply needed more power than WHT could provide. The tradeoff had always been weight - nothing on the market was light enough and cost-effective enough to be feasible. In addition, most of the more powerful initiatives involved 'ground-up' approaches, redesigning a soldier's whole kit.
In our work with WHT, we had examined many different options for absorbing heat. We knew that the single most powerful coolant readily available is water, which operators also happen to *already* be carrying. So as long as we repurposed this water correctly, the weight problem is effectively solved. We started working on how to do this by talking to end users, interviewing dozens of veterans from Special Mission Units, SOF, Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen. Operators were constantly telling us the drawbacks of their current canteens and bladders, and their crude practice of shoving frozen bottled water in their plate carriers, cargo pockets and every nook and cranny available. In doing so, they became marginally cooler, but the inefficient placement and the limited mass of each water bottle provided only a fraction of what was possible. Enter IcePlate. We designed IcePlate to minimize weight, maximize duration, and maximize body contact. We put in a drain so operators can finally drink all their water. And we made sure it was thinner and lighter than what they were being issued. As an added bonus, it also provides added protection for users! Working with the top thermoplastic engineers and designers in the US, IcePlate went from concept to prototype to reality in only six months' time, and is now deployed across all branches of the US military as well as in the kit of countless body armor users worldwide.
Just two months after launching IcePlate, we received this LiveChat:
Justin headed out to Arizona where he met with Kevin Fry and Daniel Trotter at Chick-fil-A Scottsdale 101. Shortly after the meeting began, Kevin and Daniel were outside testing IcePlates live. IcePlate appeared to fit the bill perfectly. It was powerful and long lasting, easily sliding over standard uniforms. Daniel purchased five units to run a pilot and sent Justin to meet with Phil Thomas at his Scottsdale store who also purchased five units to run his own pilot program.
Extremely pleased with the performance of IcePlate, Kevin, Daniel and Phil connected Justin with the Hospitality Team at Chick-fil-A Corporate who asked us to make IcePlate available to all stores, which has brought us here.
We are proud to work with the great folks at Chick-Fil-A, we have long been fans of not only the delicious chicken, but their dedication to hiring, retaining, training and empowering great people to engage in problem solving. Together, we will work to keep team members safer while staying true to our values of accountability, efficiency, and creating end-user driven solutions.