By Nancy Dahlberg

The million-dollar equity crowdfunding club just lured in another Miami member.

With one day in its StartEngine campaign to go, AquaVault, the creator of portable travel safes and other consumer products, hurdled over the $1 million mark this week. The Aventura-based company so far raised more than $1.07 million from more than 1,400 investors. That is a milestone that less than 2% of the companies on the StartEngine platform achieve. The round at an $18 million valuation is fully subscribed, and the company is taking a wait list. 

“We’re humbled that so many investors shared in our vision and believed in us enough to max out our raise with now forming a wait list,” said Jonathan Kinis, co-founder and managing partner.  “Our plans are to expand the company internationally and continuously develop new products.” 

THE SHARKS BIT EARLY

Kinas, Avin Samtani and Robert Peck founded the Aventura company in 2014 after their valuables were stolen while they were taking a swim at a South Beach resort. They brought their first product to market, a portable safe that locks to the back of beach chairs, with the help of ABC’s Shark Tank in 2015. They reeled in an investment from Daymond John, who is still an investor and supporter today. AquaVault’s first customers were hotels on South Beach.

Since those days with a single product, the company has been developing new offerings in the security world. These include its FlexSafe, a lightweight water-resistant and slash-resistant portable safe, and advanced technologies such as a patented biometric lock. AquaVault went from $87,000 in sales when pitching on Shark Tank to generating nearly $3 million in 2018 and is on track to exceed $7 million this year, according to the company.

“Our most recent invention that was just released is a biometric lock that is activated with your fingerprint. This is something we’ve been working on for quite some time and are excited to release it in time for the holidays. We are working on one other product that is approaching the final design stages, which we anticipate releasing by second quarter of next year.” Kinas said Tuesday.

AquaVault’s products can still be found at hotels, theme parks and water parks nationally and globally – more than 200 of them, the company said. Its major retail accounts include Disney, Bed Bath & Beyond and Bass Pro Shops. Now it is diving into international expansion. 

 “We’ve started to make progress in Spain, Greece, Thailand and Dubai but there are plenty of other countries whose markets we need to penetrate,” Kinas said. “We are allocating more resources towards expanding our commercial rental model in an effort to have many more resorts and theme parks around the world provide our products to their guests.”

CROWDFUNDING ADVICE 

Here are a few tips from Kinas for crowdfunding success:

  • Create a strong video that articulates your vision in a clear and concise manner within 2-3 minutes.
  • Focus on the key driving points of your business. People inherently have a short attention span and the minutiae that may be important to you will not be nearly as important to them. 
  • Hire a professional to assist with designing the campaign page layout.  It is imperative that the page is visually appealing and tells the story with a seamless flow. 
  • Engage your audience/backers on a frequent basis. They can be a driving force in generating organic traction to the campaign.

AquaVault is the second Miami area company to join the million-dollar club in equity crowdfunding this year. Ed-tech startup Caribu surpassed  $1 million on Wefunder this summer, ultimately raising about $1.7 million.

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Nancy Dahlberg

I am a writer, editor and a leader with extensive media experience and a passion for journalism and serving the community. Most of my career has been spent with the Miami Herald in business news, and my expertise is writing about entrepreneurs. I'm also good at research and project planning. I enjoy running community-focused projects and utilizing social media. Contact me at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com
Nancy Dahlberg
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