Interview with Marco Colombo, founder of Res-T

What was your inspiration behind starting Res-T?

I was in Finland with friends, and they decided to swim in the sea, 300m away from the coast. They are all good swimmers, and I decided that the group dynamic was dangerous because everyone wanted to swim as fast as they could. I can swim well, but I wasn’t really comfortable in an unknown sea. It was cold and I didn’t know about currents.
I stayed on the beach, and I was thinking about why isn’t there anything on the market that wouldn’t make me look silly. We got an idea for a surf t-shirt for the sun and see if it can be hidden from people.
The idea only came to fruition a few years later, when my ex-girlfriend was at lake Zürich on a SUP. She slipped and fell and dislocated her shoulder. She was able to swim back by grabbing the SUP with one arm. She came out traumatized and when she told me the story, I got to work and started working on it before someone close to me got injured or worse.

What’s your motivation behind running a startup? What makes you get out of bed every morning?

My motivation was never running a startup, it was making a product. I wanted to bring a product to the people. My interest is seeing people happy, practicing watersports, being safe. I want to go to a lake or the sea or the ocean one day and see someone wearing Res-T and showing it off. Something that is cool, something that people will love. I love challenges, which is what being an entrepreneur is all about. Doing something, solving a situation with what I have at my disposal, however I can. Not every challenge is nice or interesting, sometimes I take months to solve a challenge, sometimes I take minutes to solve it. Sometimes I get solutions to my problems in my sleep, sometimes I don’t sleep because of my problems.

What problem does Res-T solve and how would you say it relieves “pain” for your customers?

The first problem is that normal life vests are not comfortable. This year (2021) it was mandatory to wear a life vest in any body of water. The law says you need to have it on the boat, and not on yourself. I want something comfortable and something cool. Some lifevests are becoming cooler but still not at the same level as Res-T.
You have a t-shirt to protect you from the sun, and you have another lifevest inside, without movement restrictions, which from my experience solves the biggest problem for most people, the fact that they can’t move comfortably and they feel like they look silly.

How did the process of developing Res-T go?

It was a nightmare (laughter). At the beginning, I tried taking a trashbag and soldering it with hot glue. The first prototype was literally a trash bag with a valve I took from a bike tyre. I attached the valve to the bag, jumped in the sea, blew it up and asked myself if it will work. Saw that it was comfortable and that it would work. After a long time of researching sewing methods, looking for inspiration in other products and talking to producers and connecting with people, I continued developing prototypes.
Another big challenge is having certification in a proper way, so prototype after prototype, (we’re on number 5 right now), we continued improving on the product. The process was a great learning experience, working on materials, putting it all together, working on the website, social media pages, connecting with people, trying to figure out the best materials etc. To bring a product to the market, you need to talk to investors, lawyers, technical people, certification offices, producers etc. I gained a lot of experience in different fields working on this product.
In the process, I developed 3 different ways to make an inflator, but it was very difficult to go ahead because you don’t know how to proceed without any experience. I used to be something of a one-man army, now I’m lucky that I’ve made enough steps to gather a small team that believes in the process and believes in the product. Even when Res-T was just an idea, people always had interest in the product, and this gave me the motivation to continue. So step by step, I figured everything out.

Who do you look up to?

It’s difficult to pinpoint one person. My idol is Valentino Rossi, a former professional motorcycle racer. He is incredibly talented, a great communicator, 9 time world title winner, just an overall inspiring person in a sport that I love.
On the business side, I idolize Elon Musk, because he was able to build something that everyone thought was impossible. Nobody took electric cars seriously, and he has still managed to change the world in spite of the naysayers.
I don’t really think about idols too much, I am more interested in going my way and carving my own path towards being successful, but these two people have definitely done impressive things in terms of sports, which is something I’m passionate about, and business/innovation, which is something that makes the whole world move forward.

Top 3 tips for other startups?

Test your ideas – always. Try to figure out if it works, what you can do to make it better. Try to get confirmation about your idea as soon as possible, don’t develop too much before you start developing the idea more. It costs you a lot of valuable time and resources.
Don’t ask friends to help you, find people who are motivated and who have a genuine interest in making the product and the idea work.
Try to stay small for as long as you can and add value as much value as possible to your startup.
Be sure about the people you work with, understand their ideas, finalize everything only when they give you something. Always give something for something, never give something for nothing.

Where do you see Res-T?

I see it in the water. I’d really like to see people wearing Res-T. That is my main goal. I think it is a wonderful feeling when you see people using and enjoying your product and seeing it as something that ticks the boxes of safety, style and comfort.
On the business side of things, I see Res-T as a stable company making revenue, but it’s not my first priority. If the financial stuff works, great. But I see us as a fun company with a healthy work environment that gathers motivated people that work together for a common goal. I see Res-T as an extension of my lifestyle: Trying to have a good time.

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