Does your company make a beautiful, creative, or useful product that's impeccably designed?
Inc.'s annual Best in Class Awards recognize the best-designed, American-made products. The application for this year's awards is now open and we're looking to find our next batch of winners by March 7. Want to know if your company has what it takes? Read on to meet last year's winners and learn what they're up to now.
The Level by Fluidstance
The Level, which won last year's Readers' Choice online vote, hit the market at around the same time it took home the crown. Since then, the balancing platform, designed to give your legs a workout at your standing desk, has found customers in 35 countries and all 50 states. For companies that buy in bulk, Fluidstance now makes the High Five, a wall-hung rack that holds five Levels. Founder Joel Heath says they can be found lining the hallways of offices in Silicon Valley, where some of the biggest tech firms are now customers. (He won't name names, but think computer companies and search engines.) Fluidstance will be unveiling a new product later this year that takes The Level's design beyond workplaces.
EG3 Goggles by Electric
California-based Electric makes its fog-free, futuristic-looking goggles for skiiers and snowboarders. Recently, the company listened to customer feedback and released the EGX, which offers all the same benefits as the original--anti-fog lens, wide frame for peripheral views, a 360-degree Electric Press Seal that keeps out snow and ice--with a more classic aesthetic. The difference is in the lens: While the EG3's lens curves back toward the face at the top and bottom, the new version has more of a cylinder shape to look more like traditional ski goggles. Later this year, the company will release the Electrolite, a more affordable ($120 compared to the $220 EG3), trimmer version that's 30 percent lighter than the average competitor.
The Homemade Gin Kit
The Homemade Gin Kit gives you everything you need to make your own batch of gin: botanicals, spices, juniper berries, a strainer, a funnel, and two glass bottles. (Bottles of flavorless vodka are sold separately.) W&P Design, the beverage design firm behind the kit, also makes clever kits to stash in your carry-on bag that include all the ingredients for your favorite cocktails (though you'll have to ask your flight attendant for the alcohol): the Moscow mule kit, released this past summer, comes with a potent ginger syrup; the champagne kit includes an elderflower mix. W&P has also partnered with a fellow Brooklyn company, 124-year-old Boylan Bottling, to create a line of mixers: tonic, club soda and ginger ale.
The low-maintenance, theft-resistant Priority bike uses bolts instead of quick releases and a belt instead of a chain--great for recreational and urban riders. Founder Dave Weiner listened to customer feedback over the past year and created The Eight, a souped-up version of his original design. Hydraulic disc brakes, aluminum fenders, and a carbon-reinforced belt appeal to more intense bikers, and demand has been so high that Priority had to create a waiting list. At the other end of the spectrum, the company developed the Priority Start, a first-timer's bike with training wheels included. The extra wheels can be adjusted as the kid's skill level increases--no tools required.
Haiku With SenseMe by Big Ass Fans
Big Ass Fans' Haiku is an energy-saving smart device that spins silently and adjusts its speed based on temperature, humidity, and room occupancy. Since the $1,000 price tag is a bit steep, the company introduced the L Series in early January 2016. The new fan offers many of the same features at a more reasonable $450, plus $125 for a wall-mounted control. The company slashed the retail price by limiting the color and finishing options and reducing the size--while the original was designed for living rooms and dens, the L Series works best in bedrooms.
Canary by Canary Connect
The Canary home security system captures video and audio that it sends to your smartphone, letting you sound an in-home alarm or alert the police if something seems awry. It also monitors air quality, temperature and humidity, and lets you preserve video of milestone moments. In addition to making small tweaks to the product, including a new feature that lets you fine-tune the triggers for a mobile alert, Canary recently partnered with the app Wink, which means the system can connect with other smart home products, like automated lighting systems. The Canary is now in over 7,000 retailers including Apple and T-Mobile stores, Sam's Club, Lowe's, and Home Depot.
The eyeglasses from ThinOptics are easily transportable: They have no temples, weigh only as much as a nickel, and can fit in the pocket of a smartphone case. They key is the clamp that adjusts to hold steady on the bridge of your nose. Since last year's awards, ThinOptics have gone mainstream--thanks in part to appearances on The View and Fox News--and are now sold in Bed, Bath and Beyond as well as CVS and Target. In early 2016 the company is releasing its own case that attaches to a keychain, so you'll have one less excuse to leave your glasses at home.