About Us

80West Labs was created by a collaboration between KZValve and Prota Ventures, two midwest companies passionate about innovation and steeped in design and engineering DNA. In fact, KZValve actually worked with Whirlpool on the original engineering of the Vessi and SRS system which ignited the passion for the product. Nate (from KZValve, middle blue shirt) and Kyle (from Prota Ventures, far right) are leading the charge with the support of our teams as we grow and develop new products. 
 

Q&A with Nate and Kyle


Q: So what are your backgrounds and what made you interested in Vessi? 


A: (Nate) I’ve been a design engineer and Business Innovation Manager for the last decade, designing and engineering solutions for global companies and industries.  A few years ago Whirlpool asked our KZValve innovation group to help design what is now the SRS (sediment removal system) for the Vessi. After being introduced to the original Vessi, my passion for innovation and craft-brewing led me to co-found BREWSENSE, a wireless remote monitoring and control system for craft and micro-breweries. We are excited, and hoping to take some of that technology and incorporate it into the homebrewing space.


A: (Kyle) As an Industrial Designer, I’ve spent the last 12 years working with companies like Google, Samsung, GE, etc. as well as countless startups to design and bring new products and services to market. I’m really interested in how user-centered design and new technologies can lead to better experiences and outcomes, which is why I am so interested in Vessi and the opportunities it presents. 


Q: How long have guys been homebrewing? 


A: (Kyle) Compared to most of our customers we are probably considered newbies but we actually see this as an advantage. The ability to come into the hobby without a ton of legacy has us asking a million questions and looking for products that we want, that don’t yet exist. The coolest part of the homebrewing community is that everyone is asking those questions, innovating and working together to share solutions and help each other. We want our company to be a place for collaboration, where the community can engage and we can offer the unique ability to build connected, scalable, and accessible products for each other. 


Q: What are your plans for Vessi moving forward? 


A: (Nate) We have a lot of exciting things in the works but are currently in the mode of gathering feedback and insights from original Vessi owners as well as other craft beverage enthusiasts. Our goal is to work with the craft beverage community to create unique products that solve problems and make brewing even more fun. At the end of the day, we aspire to help enable creativity in beverage making through new innovative ideas, and we think the Vessi is a great place to start.