Skip Navigation

Price Alum-Based Simple Modern Finds Success by Giving Back

The University of Oklahoma Price College of Business website wordmark

Price Alum-Based Simple Modern Finds Success by Giving Back

By Staci Elder Hensley

To enter the offices of Simple Modern is to be enveloped in a positive, energetic environment. Simple Modern was started in 2015 by three friends who recognized an opportunity to pool their 15+ combined years of e-commerce experience to create a new type of company. Mike Beckham (CEO), Bryan Porter (Chief Operations Officer), and Micah Ames (Chief Product Officer) had worked together for the previous five years and had become close friends. In recognizing the business opportunity, they were equally excited to create a company culture in which profits were not the primary concern.

 

The key to the company’s success is the classic strategy of finding new uses for an established technology, said Mike Beckham, owner and CEO. Simple Modern’s team has done exactly that. By tweaking the old-fashioned thermos, they’ve created higher functioning insulated water bottles and tumblers that don’t sweat, don’t rust and keep drinks cold for 24 hours or more.

Mike Beckham, CEO, Simple Modern
Simple Modern CEO Mike Beckham

“Vacuum insulation as a technology is not particularly new; the thermos is 100 years old,” Beckham said. “But it’s always been focused on keeping things hot. Recently, people have realized that it wasn’t being utilized as widely as it could be, and it would be great for keeping things cold. We saw that early on, and it’s worked out great for us. We picked this product because we had seen the success of other companies in this area and we were fans of the technology. Our chief product officer, Micah Ames, had a lot of ideas about how we could improve on what was already in the market.”

 

While he knew the potential was there, the Norman-based company’s amazingly rapid growth has surprised everyone, himself included, Beckham said. Since its beginning in 2015, Simple Modern has doubled its revenue every year.

 

“We started manufacturing in December 2015, for selling our products on Amazon,” he said. “The first wave of business hit in March of 2016. We were on our way and immediately a hit.”

 

Spearheading this type of enterprise was a significant change of pace for Beckham, who created a very successful e-commerce business with his brother in 2009 and spent almost a decade before that working with a nonprofit ministry.

Students display Simple Modern products

What It Offers

Next to its exceptional effectiveness at keeping things cold, one of the biggest selling features of Simple Modern’s products is that they don’t sweat. That, along with their unique designs, huge selection and a competitive price makes them highly desired, Beckham said. They’re manufactured from kitchen-grade stainless steel and have a 4 ½-star rating on Amazon.

 

“We offer dozens of water bottle and tumbler designs, ranging in size from 8 ounces up to 84 ounces,” Beckham said. “All have options that aren’t available in similar products, such as interchangeable lid styles ranging from flip lids and leakproof straw lids to ‘chug’ lids and more.

 

More recently the company added the NBA and collegiate sports teams to its design roster, and many products can be laser engraved. There also are inexpensive accessories for sale, including custom straws, bottle brushes and replacement lids.

 

New designs constantly are being added, and part of the company’s success is its ability to get new items on the market quickly, typically within a few weeks.

 

“One of our insights is that this market is like other more fashion-focused accessories, like purses, shoes or watches,” he said. “As a result, our products and styles need to grow and change constantly. We recognized that fairly early on.”

 

The company’s primary demographic is women between the ages of 20 and 50. That’s expanding, however, thanks to a growing public awareness of the variety of products offered, Beckham said. Products can be viewed at the company’s websiteAmazon store, and onsite at Target and Sam’s Club.

Simple Modern employees

Meet the Team

Beckham’s enthusiasm for his new gig is shared by an exceptional team, which is comprised of a dozen Price College of Business alums: Micah Ames (2005), Bryan Porter (2009), Carson Rock (2012), Lee Graves (2005, MBA), Jon Kuhlman (2005), Corbin Wallace (2014), Chris Hoyle (2001), Jeff Hannam (2003, MBA), Nathaniel Haskins (2001; Law, 2009), Jason McElvany (2003; MBA, 2010), Mason Gough (2018) and Burke Lewis (2009). Additional alumni from other OU colleges include Caleb Fox (Broadcast Journalism, 2007), Ben Birdwell (International Area Studies, 2012), Jonathan Boston (Engineering 2005), Brett Bone (Engineering, 2012) and Alex Benton (Letters, 2007; Geology M.S., 2013).

 

Beckham himself is a former OU Regents Scholar who earned his finance degree from Price in 2003 and graduated from the Honors College summa cum laude.

 

A Mission to Give Back

Now, Beckham is drawing upon his experience and insights to help the next generation of students. He’s been an adjunct professor in the Price College’s entrepreneurship program, and next fall will serve as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence. Simple Modern is also funding a new scholarship within the college.

 

 With innovative programs, prestigous partnerships and debt-free programs, the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education attracts and retains incredible educators like Eman. Flexibe programs allow students to pursue degrees outside of the col-lege and still be traditionally certified, and the debt-free program helps keep outstanding teachers in Oklahoma. Becasue of these unique opportunities, support, and Eman’s hard work, she is positioned to invest in the lives of thousands of students and the future of Oklahoma.