with Paul van Brenkelen
CEO and Founder of MyPhone (HK)
"zøem™ spray works based on hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties, so you apply this to the electrical components of your phone and therefore water will never be able to get to the electrical conducting part of the phone, to prevent short circuiting of them. By buying zøem™ spray, you will have a higher level of insurance to protect your phone from water damage."
Network For Creators to follow and connect with creativity and social innovation
What is zøem™ spray?
Have you ever had a problem with your phone when it was exposed to rain, or you dropped a cup of coffee or a glass of wine over your phone, and it stopped working? We’ve got a solution – zøem™ spray, a coating invented in the Netherlands, for which we have got a global exclusive license to apply it in the electrical and electronic market segments. We took the opportunity to bring it to Asia and thought to introduce it first in the Chinese market, specifically for smartphones. I saw it working first in the Netherlands on a lamp underwater, where all the electrical parts were exposed to water and the lamp kept on burning after being sprayed with ZOEM Spray. The name ZOEM Spray is based on the Chinese word “mi feng” – “mi feng”, which means to coat, also bumblebee. We took a little twist on the bumblebee angle because if you go to the Netherlands and ask people what sound a bumblebee makes, they will tell you it’s “zoom”. So ZOEM Spray is based on the sound a bumblebee makes in the Netherlands. We gave it a little funny twist by putting the Scandinavian “ø” in the name so that we could protect our brand better. ZOEM Spray -- coating for smart phones.
How was zøem™ spray developed?
ZOEM Spray is a derivative from the trial and error approach inside the R&D process to find a coating with a much higher level of UV (ultraviolet) protection specifically for coatings used in the construction on buildings. The byproduct was that by finding an ingredient providing those properties, they came across the increased water repellence of one of the specific ingredients in the ZOEM Spray coating. It was supplied by a very specialized company in the Netherlands, active in the preservation of old buildings in the Netherlands, so that is where the unique water repellent properties of the ZOEM Spray coating come from.
How does the zøem™ spray protective coating work?
Most simplistically and also uniquely, ZOEM Spray has hydrophobic and also hydrophilic effects. Hydrophobic means, it repels water when rain or liquid lands on the coating. Hydrophilic means that if there is water on the surface you apply the coating to, it pulls the water through the coating layer to the other side, which means that there will never be an opportunity to have short circuiting happening. A side effect, which potentially has big upside effects for our coating later in the industrial applications is that it has a rust prevention effect for that reason. No matter what, water will never have access to the electrical conducting parts or metal surfaces, for that reason, where ZOEM Spray has been applied.
Who are zøem™ spray’s target customers and on what products can the spray be used?
At the current launch stage, we aim to sell ZOEM Spray in these 10ml packs to final consumers through retail outlets, WeChat re-sellers, online/offline sales channels. The packaging available is in Chinese and English, specifically for the Chinese market at this stage. It also says on the packaging, “water repellent spray” for smartphones. That’s the first aim for selling this product. We are looking at developing the packaging into a more international version, to sell outside of China. We are also further performing research and development on applying the coating wider in broader consumer electronic applications. However, we have also received requests for it to be applied in industrial or do-it-yourself (DIY) applications. For example, the yachting industry has shown an interest to have bigger cans of the coating to be sprayed in the electrical compartments of walls. PCB (printed circuit board) production, where the PCB’s are in an enclosed environment where they would like to apply the coating to prevent water damage to the equipment. There are more examples out there. Initially, smartphones, later, wider electronics, and then we will move to, hopefully, the industrial sector.
Do we still need zøem™ spray if our smartphones are already supposed to be water resistant?
If you read the small print of the warranty of the phone you have just bought at the shop, you will see that you will not be guaranteed to receive a new phone if your phone has been exposed to water. The way these phones are water protected is that the casings prevent water to get into the phone, but that might still happen. ZOEM Spray works based on the hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties, so you apply this to the electrical components of your phone and therefore water will never be able to get to the electrical conducting part of the phone, to prevent short circuiting of them. By buying ZOEM Spray, you will have a higher level of insurance to protect your phone from water damage.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
With ZOEM Spray we have a wonderful brand in hand, we think, but it takes a lot of time and effort and money to develop the brand and put it into the marketplace, so that’s a hard job to be done. Opening up bank accounts and dealing with legal departments to open up companies in China and Hong Kong – again, another piece of work to be done which requires a lot of energy and time. Bringing the coating from the Netherlands to China – that has probably been our biggest challenge, because it is a unique and completely new product which we are trying to bring to certain countries. We had to bring it through the Netherlands, into Hong Kong, then into China – that was a very tough job. Again, for the reason that it is a new and unique product, which we were trying to introduce to the Chinese market. Bringing this chemical into different countries was probably our biggest challenge we have had to face.
Any advice for entrepreneurs and startups?
Have heaps of energy, be devoted and dedicated to the idea you would like to bring into the market. Have an experienced board member / investor behind you who can raise difficult questions when he needs to, or coach you in bringing the idea to the market. Fail quickly when you try something and then review the decisions you have made, and continue what you tried to achieve in bringing your idea to the market. Of course, you have created and developed the idea together with your team members, so make sure that you utilize the strength of one another. Be a team in bringing your product or your idea further into the marketplace.
What are the next steps for zøem™ spray beyond China?
We are currently launching our ZOEM Spray product in China, with our Chinese and English packaging for smartphone customers in China. We would like to make it available for our customers outside of China and for that we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign on SparkRaise. But it would be great if you could help us and follow us on social media, the website, see what we are up to, follow the updates, maybe sign up a little bit later for newsletters, or other information we release. There will be further updates and more information coming about the crowdfunding campaign on SparkRaise. Please help us further in organizing the international packaging to make the product available for yourself.