WORDS Celeste Jacobs IMAGE Elizma Hayman
Ebert Otto is a man of many trades. First, he put his BCom Entrepreneurship degree to use by starting a hazardous-waste management business, then he obtained a diploma in motor mechanics, and then he became an industrial engineer.
Late one night, while juggling his business, his fifth child on the way and completing his engineering degree, Ebert needed coffee – but the power was out. “While waiting 12 minutes for the kettle to boil on the gas hob – an electric kettle takes 4 minutes – I decided to see if I could at least improve the boiling time.”
Thanks to the support of Innovus, a company responsible for entrepreneurial support and innovation at Stellenbosch University, and the Technology Innovation Agency, Ebert spent the next four years working on a prototype and successfully produced his first copper-and-glass kettle, which was nominated for the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2019 award by VISI Editor-in-Chief Sumien Brink.
“When you work so closely with a piece, you need to take a step back to admire it afresh in order to truly appreciate it,” he says. “I was pleasantly surprised when Sumien Brink and Annemarie Meintjes felt the kettle was worthy of the nomination.”
While the patent is pending, Ebert is working on refining the manufacturing process. Once this is in place, the kettle will become available commercially. Where to get your hands on one? “At the moment, the best thing would be to send me an email so I can put you on the pre-order list.”
And new inventions we can expect? “I have a great idea for a smart dustbin that supports household-waste sorting, but I’m still looking for an investor…”
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