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subo the food bottle

Subo the Food Bottle: An Interview

If you've ever watched as your baby squeezes puree from a food pouch, and puts it everywhere except his mouth, we get you, Mama! 

What is Subo the Food Bottle?

Subo the Food Bottle encourages independent eating from an early age, but without all the mess.

You can feed your little ones on the go, like in the pram while you’re shopping or the car seat on a road trip, without having to worry about cleaning up.

It’s perfect for foods like yogurt, porridge, oatmeals, pureed fruits and veggies, and much more.

I love that Subo is an Australian company, and that it's made right here in Melbourne, too.

Glen Mayer and his wife Julie-Anne are the husband and wife team who invented Subo. I recently met up with Glen and we had a bit of a chinwag about the company and where it's going.

Tell us a bit about Subo?

Subo is the world’s first non-squeeze food bottle. Unlike disposable food pouches, where children can squeeze out a mess, Subo operates on suction only. Inside the bottle is a moving platform that the food sits on top of.

As the child sips on the soft silicon spout, the platform automatically moves up the bottle dispensing the food directly into the child's mouth. When finished, the bottle can be fully disassembled; the platform can be pulled out of the tube, which makes it easy to clean and refill.

Where did you get the inspiration for Subo?

The inspiration for inventing Subo came out of necessity. We have three young children and found ourselves always feeding on the go.

subo family portrait

We tried reusable pouches, but found them to be flawed as the kids could easily create a mess and the pouches were hard to clean and refill. So we thought, why not create a non-squeeze version?

The light-bulb moment happened one evening when Julie-Anne saw an old toothpaste pump pack. We used a hack saw to cut it open, threw out the parts we didn’t need and duck taped it back together. We trialed our homemade prototype on ourselves before letting the kids have a go. It was an instant hit!

How did you get it off the ground?

Inventing the product was one thing, getting it to market and protecting our idea was a whole new ball game. Being a small business, we weren’t afraid to ask for help where required.

Neither of us had experience in bringing a product to market. Intellectual property, and industrial design and engineering were foreign topics to us.

We were quite fortunate to be part of a few government grant programs that helped to fund the project but also provided us with a network of advisors who helped us along the way. Also, having the backing of the government really gave us the confidence that we were onto something great.

We are proud licensees of the Australian Made campaign, which allows us to use the iconic Australian Made logo. We manufacture here in Melbourne, so that we can make certain the highest quality materials are used. Subo is tested to Australian and European standards, so that we can ensure it is a safe product for children to use.

About Glen and Julie-Anne

Just over a year ago, I gave up my job as a Sales Representative in the safety industry to work full time on Subo. Julie-Anne continues to work full time in Functions & Events.

We’ve got three young children (our R&D department/“The Messy Eaters"), Murphy 8, Hudson 6 and Marley 4. We've always had entrepreneurial minds and wanted to invent a product and start our own company; ideally that would have happened before having a young family!

Subo family

Our lives are pretty busy, to say the least, but we make it work. I wouldn’t say that our career paths has helped us with getting Subo to market, any more than our ability to learn and adapt along the way. Each day, and hour is different in small business, adaptability has been essential.

Prior to Subo and kids, Julie-Anne and I met in Whistler, Canada where we worked together in the mountains. I’m originally from Toronto, Canada. When Julie-Anne’s Canadian visa ran out, I got myself an Australian visa and we worked in the Whitsundays before settling down in Melbourne, where Julie-Anne was born and raised.

What are the highlights of Subo’s journey?

We launched Subo at the Pregnancy, Babies and Children expo in Sydney back in October 2016. Selling our first Subo was a pretty special moment for us. It had been a long journey to get to that moment were someone believed our idea would help them, and were willing to spend their hard earned money on it.

Earlier this year, Julie-Anne and I took Subo to the Shark Tank. It was a nerve racking but fantastic experience that has help to spread the word about Subo. Over 840,000 people tuned in the evening our episode aired on Channel Ten.

The investors loved the product, calling it a genius idea and a revolutionary invention. We secured an investment from Steve Baxter who saw the potential of Subo straight away as he has three young girls of his own.

It has been such a whirlwind from there. We’ve sold well over 10,000 bottles to date and the feed back we get from customers has been overwhelming.

Where to from here for Subo?

subo bottle lifestyle

Where to from here… aside from export market opportunities that have been popping up; we’ve been getting plenty of requests to make adult sized Subo’s.

There has been plenty of interest from different industries as well; aged care, disability, sports, and outdoor recreation to name a few. People are always giving us different scenarios where Subo would come in handy.

Also, we're about to launch a range of accessories that will help our customers with feeding on the go. Stay tuned for that!

You can buy Subo the Food Bottle here at Hello Charlie.

Image credit: Subo

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