By Katie Terou
SYV Star Intern
Santa Ynez Valley resident Jim Castillo designed a product to improve nasal breathing for athletes, and the invention has now evolved into a new company.
Intake Breathing, a startup based in Santa Barbara, launched its first product, the Intake Sport Band, in September. This product is designed for athletes to open their nostrils and improve nasal breathing. The company describes the unique band as rigid and more effective than other nasal strips on the market.
“Although this is a very simple idea, it just hadn’t been done before,” said Alex Hauck, co-founder and CEO of Intake Breathing.
The product was designed more than three years ago by Jim Castillo, local athlete and medical inventor. He first designed the band for motocross racers to wear when they wore goggles that squeezed their nose, making it difficult to get enough air.
Castillo’s daughter, Natalie, and Hauck, her long-time boyfriend, gained interest in the product and founded Intake Breathing. The inventor, co-founders and the rest of the Intake team have been perfecting the design and production of the band ever since.
“We just want to make sure that, no matter what it is that people are trying to do with opening their nose, we can make it happen in the most comfortable and cost-efficient way we can,” Hauck said. “We’re trying to make nose breathing accessible to most people.”
The co-founders began by launching a Kickstarter campaign where they raised more than $100,000 for the company through pre-orders. After that 30-day campaign, Intake moved onto Indiegogo, another crowdfunding platform, where they are continuing to raise money for the business. They credit their success to the support of the community as well as their friends and family.
“From day one, … our local community showed up for us big time … to help us get to our goal,” said Hauck.
The company’s initial product, the Intake Sport Kit, is a pocket-sized case that contains the entire system. This kit includes two of the Intake bands, a magnet applicator, cleansing wipes and the nose tabs that attach to the band.
The band itself is designed specifically for athletes. It is made of a matte black material to reduce reflection into the eyes with a dip in the center so it’s out of the line of vision. Hauck describes the design as “brilliant.”
“This product is very simple and yet very, very precise in its design,” said Castillo.
Originally, the band came in only one size. When Hauck and Natalie Castillo started Intake, however, they wanted to create new sizes.
“When we got involved, … we didn’t want to limit ourselves by not making a universal size and, since it’s rigid, there has to be a various-size range,” Castillo said.
The company’s main focus is nose breathing. Its benefits include increased oxygen absorption, nitric oxide production and carbon dioxide retention. The company explains that the combination of these factors increases oxygen distribution throughout the body, improving athletic performance, among other things.
“It’s hard to explain until you really experience it because you likely haven’t experienced that kind of easy breathing until you’ve actually been able to do it,” Castillo said.
The Intake Sport Kit will officially launch on the company website in the fall. For now, only pre-orders can be placed there.
The company also plans to make the product available on Amazon.com in early 2020. Hauck estimates the initial kit will retail for around $40 and they will offer the option of a monthly subscription for the one-use tabs.
“We want people to use it and we want people to benefit from it and we believe that they can,” said Castillo. “It was a big thing for us to bring the price down as much as physically possible.”
Intake Breathing is working toward reaching other markets as well. They conducted two surveys in which they found that 67 percent of respondents reported “trouble with breathing through their nose even at rest.”
Co-founders Castillo and Hauck cited this as their reasoning to expand the company in the future, hoping to eventually create Intake Sleep as well as other products.
“Performance isn’t just in the moment … but it’s actually your recovery, it’s your proper amount of sleep, it’s your diet,” Hauck said. “We think there’s a really compelling case for us … just based off the results we’ve already been seeing from our current users and the feedback we’ve gotten.”