ST. GEORGE — While having lunch at Dixie State University over a year ago, three students came up with an idea for a business venture based around making soft drinks more affordable for students, particularly ones who consume the carbonated concoctions on a seemingly daily basis.
Enter Fill Drinks, the brainchild of Dixie State students Braden Bringhurst, Devon Dickson and Stuart Baker. Fill Drinks is a drink subscription service that – for a monthly fee of $19.99 – can provide subscribers with unlimited access to Coca-Cola-based liquid refreshment.
“It’s a no brainer,” Bringhurst said Thursday as he recalled how he and the others came up with the initial idea for Fill Drinks. “How has nobody thought of this before?”
If someone is a “sodaholic” who has at least one drink a day, Bringhurst said, then the subscription service makes your drinks around 60 cents a cup.
“The cool thing is it’s unlimited,” he said.
Bringhurst, his two friends – now business partners – had a handful of family and school faculty meet at the Brooks’ Stop convenience store on the Dixie State campus Thursday evening for a ribbon-cutting that signified the culmination of the trios’ efforts – efforts that came in the form of a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine set up in a corner of the store.
Capable of providing nearly 200 flavors including Coca-Cola’s signature soft drinks, as well as healthy choices like Vitamin Water and others, the machine is equipped with a scanner that will read an RFID chip used for the Fill Drinks subscription service.
The stickers are on the bottom of the cups so they can be easily read by the scanner just underneath where people will place the cup to be filled by the machine.
Getting the machine, especially one with a famous brand name attached, wasn’t easy, Bringhurst and the others said.
“It was really quite a process because those Freestyle machines are a part of a franchise,” Dickson said.
Baker added that it took over a year and going through many hoops to finally get the Freestyle drink dispenser.
Despite the hoops the trio had to go through to be able to sell their idea to Coca-Cola, faculty at Dixie State’s Udvar-Hazy School of Business and the Atwood Innovation Plaza helped them see it through, Dickson added.
“We had so much help,” Bringhurst, Dickson and Baker each said.
“Everybody’s been so, so helpful to us. We couldn’t be more grateful, so thank you so much,” he said to those gathered before showing them how to use the Freestyle drink machine once the ribbon was cut.
Another facet of the drink subscription service Dickson mentioned is the reusable bottles people will be able to buy and use for their drinks instead of using disposable cups. For now, only disposable cups with RFID stickers on the bottom are available for use with the machine at Brooks’ Stop.
The plastic bottles the Fill Drinks service will be offering will retail around $15, Dickson said, and will have a permanent RFID code printed on the bottom of the bottle.
The bottles are still in the process of being produced, Dickson said.
While the drink subscription service was originally geared toward thirsty university students, the service is also open to the public, Baker said.
“The general public is more than open to come,” he said, though he added the only place people can access the service for now is Brooks’ Stop on the university campus.
While there are hopes to expand Fill Drinks service locations beyond the campus, the trio is starting with the goal of reaching 200 subscriptions by the end of September. Bringhurst said he and his partners expect they will reach that goal and likely surpass it.
“We just really want to see how it goes and we have some really high hopes for the future,” Dickson said. “We think this way of getting drinks is really a part of the future.”
The ability to sign up for the Fill Drinks service will be available through the company’s website, Filldrinks.com, once that feature is launched.
Parts of the website are still under construction and facets of the Fill Drinks service are still being ironed out, Baker said. Once lingering issues have been addressed, the trio plan to hold a grand opening for their new business venture.
“It’s been over a year now, and we’ve learned it takes a lot of work to get a business going,” Bringhurst said. “It’s cool to see it all come together and to learn. We’ve learned so much.”
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.