One BILLION hashtags.

That’s how many TikTok users are paying attention to beverage technology startup Cirkul’s flavored-water cartridges, and raving about their ability to control the flavor intensity using a dial built into the bottle lid. The videos share testimonials about how Cirkul has increased users’ daily water consumption – making H2O more fun to drink – but mostly focus on new flavor reviews and the novelty of deciding how much flavor they want on a scale of zero-to-9.

“People think I’m obsessed with this!” declares TikToker @samanthapettry25, cradling her Cirkul bottle in her car. “But I’m okay with it. I AM obsessed with it. And I think this is an obsession that doesn’t hurt anyone.”

screengrab of tiktok results for #cirkulCirkul, a beverage technology startup, has attracted an astounding 1.1 billion views on TikTok, generating lots of customer-created content.

Viral marketing has helped Cirkul – which ironically has its design headquarters on Water Street in Watertown, Massachusetts – become one of the Walmart home division’s fastest-selling products in 2022.

Sales and social media success aside, Cirkul also has a fascinating product development story. The company didn’t use chemistry or food science to achieve their goal of using no artificial colors, instead relying on innovative conceptual design.

three different angles of a Cirkul lid
A built-in dial on Cirkul bottle lids allows users to switch between plain water and flavored water, and also to control the flavor saturation.

Cirkul’s zero-calorie, all-natural flavors come in many varieties (including coffees, teas, and energy drinks), but everyone who’s drinking them appears to be drinking plain water. That’s because the company’s patented drink cartridges infuse flavor on demand as the user sips through the nozzle. 

Cirkul founders Andy Gay and Garrett Waggoner hatched the idea for the “Sips” flavor cartridges a decade ago when they were Dartmouth College football teammates, frustrated by the spillage of sports drink powders while pouring them into narrow bottle openings. They later won their school’s entrepreneurship pitch competition.

Onshape Helps Teams Reclaim Lost Engineering Time

CAD model of the Cirkul flavor cartridge
The Cirkul engineering team uses cloud-native Onshape to accelerate its product development.

The Cirkul engineering team relies on Onshape – a cloud-native CAD and PDM platform with built-in collaboration and simulation tools – to design its products and manufacturing fixtures.

Cirkul switched to Onshape from their file-based CAD system in 2018, after experiencing significant bottlenecks related to software and server maintenance, managing licenses and upgrades, and other IT administrative tasks.

According to Tom Urbanik, VP of Engineering, software maintenance and installs were eating up 50 percent of one mechanical engineer’s time – a tough-to-swallow efficiency loss for a small company. 

“The engineering bandwidth it took to support our old CAD system was so painful,” he recalls. “We experienced significant downtime managing servers just to keep them up and running. There’s no compelling reason to suck up engineering time to support something that’s not your core business.”

“When we first started out and were a much smaller startup, we only had one floating license between the two of us,” adds lead mechanical engineer Cole Houston. “If we were in the same office, there was no problem, but if one of us were traveling, that meant that only one of us had the license. The other person might not be able to work on a design for a week or so.”

Onshape requires no restrictive licenses and has zero IT overhead. Server maintenance and automatic software upgrades every three weeks are included in the cost of an annual subscription. CAD access is available anytime on any computer or mobile device (iOS or Android).

Urbanik says that Onshape saves his team a minimum of $50,000 a year in reclaimed engineering hours.

“Onshape gets rid of all the silly maintenance things,” he says. “All we have to do is focus on our own workflows. It’s hard to find good people. So I never want to waste their time on software implementation.” 

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