Our Story

Meet Marben, Mike and Caloy

BoxO3 Founders
Marben, Mike and Caloy on one of their many Zoom calls, inventing BoxO3.

BoxO3 was founded and jointly developed by Marben Forneste, Mike O’Donnell, and Caloy Hinolan. Like all good ideas, it starts with someone having a burning problem and envisioning a better solution. It starts with Marben.

Marben had items stolen off his porch, even though he had a video doorbell. His doorbell camera captured a very nice video of a hooded thief running away with his packages. There was no way to ID the thief and he was never caught. Marben gets a bit pissed.

Marben looked into buying a parcel lock box. They were expensive, heavy, ugly, and not very technologically sophisticated. They were not practical for people living in apartments, condominiums and other types of multi-family housing. He thought he could invent something better, so he joined the StartupNOW Accelerator program in Fort Lauderdale, run by CareerSource Broward and Broward College. That’s where he met Mike, who was an instructor and mentor. Marben called his fledgling startup, DoorVault.

Mike immediately liked Marben and his idea because he too had parcels stolen off his doorstep. Mike’s neighbors also had deliveries stolen by porch pirates, including prescription medications. He understood why Marben was pissed. He was a little pissed himself. He advised Marben on how to conduct competitive research, create a minimum viable product, write a business plan, and create an investor pitch deck.

Marben graduated the six-month program with flying colors. Then life intervened…

…a highly contagious and deadly virus called COVID-19 swept into America like a tidal wave. Marben’s job at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami became paramount. His job included sourcing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), disseminating best practices to the staff on disinfecting the PPE, and helping to track and report data on the virus. He was working 12-hour shifts. DoorVault was put on the backburner.

Meanwhile, Mike was in lockdown with his girlfriend. They were ordering almost everything online, including household items, groceries and food deliveries. Every time there was a delivery — sometimes several per day — Mike’s girlfriend would spray the packages with Lysol or wave a UV Light over them. For larger packages, she made Mike store them in the garage for three days to make sure any contagious germs they might be carrying would not get into the house and would die-off. The CDC had warned that contagious germs of all types can live on packages and surfaces for 72-hours, and could indeed be spread to people who handled those items.

Mike and his girlfriend were also running over to their neighbor’s house frequently to intercept packages for them, since they are “snow birds” and don’t live in their Florida home year-round. Coordinating with their neighbors every time they got packages was becoming a hassle.

Eventually, Mike and his girlfriend needed to venture out and be away from home, but those packages were still arriving regularly at their house and their neighbor’s house. His girlfriend was trying to coordinate pickups and deliveries remotely, but found it frustrating and time consuming. Mike’s girlfriend was also trying to sanitize store-bought items and facemasks with UV light, but with no way of knowing whether it was working. Mike said to his girlfriend:

“What we need is DoorVault, but with auto-disinfecting capability. It would be controlled by a simple mobile application that allows pickups and deliveries to be coordinated remotely. It would safely and effectively disinfect everyday items that could have been exposed to nasty germs, before they get through the door.”

For the first time in their long relationship, listening to Mike’s many hair-brained startup ideas, she said, “Now THAT’S a Great Idea! I would BUY that!”

Game on!

After doing some research on the various ways to safely and effectively disinfect parcels, household items and food deliveries, Mike called Marben and asked him if he wanted to collaborate on making such a product. “DoorVault,” Mike said, “but with a 10X better value proposition not being offered by any other parcel lock box on the market. It can be used for all items brought into the house, not just packages.” Marben, being the ever-opportunistic entrepreneur, replied, “Sir Mike, Absolutely!” (Marben calls everyone “Sir,” you’ll get use to it.)

Mike then asked him, “Do you know anybody who knows anything about disinfecting technologies?”

Marben answered, “I know just the guy.” 

Enter Caloy Hinolan.

Caloy was running WAV.Global in the Philippines. Marben and Caloy had worked together in the early days of WAV, installing sensory branding systems for retailers in the U.S. and Asia. This included things like digital signage, music, and scents. Their solutions enabled retailers to give customers a vivid shopping experience that appealed to all of their senses. Since COVID had hit, Caloy and his team at WAV had just begun to develop a B2B disinfecting service for retail stores, using industrial-strength Ozone technology.

On their first call, after a spirited discussion of the pros, cons and costs of the various disinfecting technologies that could be used, including UV Light, Ozone, Sanitizers and Aerosols, Mike asked Caloy, “Which disinfecting technology do you think is best?” Caloy replied, “Definitely Ozone.” Mike then asked, “Can we re-engineer and simplify that technology and put it in an affordable, consumer-friendly box?” Caloy, being the ever-opportunistic entrepreneur, replied, “Absolutely!” 

BoxO3 was born.
(Of course, at the time, the founders didn’t actually know whether it could be done. No one had ever done it as they envisioned it, and no one had conclusively proven Ozone effective in killing COVID-19.)

The three founders quickly formed an LLC, kicked in some seed money, and went to work on writing a specification for an MVP — a Minimum Viable Product — as startup entrepreneurs like to call it. To help visualize the product, Mike tapped his old friend, Anthony Phills. Anthony is a critically-acclaimed designer with deep experience in both consumer products design and mobile application UX design.

Anthony Phills
Anthony Phills, Designer Extraordinaire

The three founders told Anthony they wanted a BEAUTIFUL box. One that Steve Jobs would be proud of. One that would make their neighbors envious when they saw it on their front porches. And they wanted a powerful, but elegant app to control it. Anthony took up the challenge with enthusiasm.

(The founders are a little biased, but they think he nailed it.)

So began months of R&D, prototype development and testing, led by Caloy and his team at WAV. As the pandemic spread and its death toll climbed, the founders realized the urgency of their mission. Their invention could help save lives. Things got really exciting when their MVP prototype was successfully tested with a live COVID culture at a licensed infectious disease laboratory. BoxO3 deactivated COVID in less than 6-minutes and completely destroyed it in under 12-minutes. It’s efficacy was scientifically proven. See the video of the preliminary test.

So here we are now: Ready to Launch! It’s been an exciting journey so far, but the journey is just beginning. We hope you will back BoxO3 and tell your friends about it. BoxO3 is a great product that is so much more than a parcel lock box. It’s a germ firewall for people’s homes and offices. It’s an ever-vigilant sentry on the front step.

BoxO3 is not just for parcel deliveries. It can safely and effectively disinfect any item that can fit inside it, before it is brought into the home or office, including store-bought items, sun glasses, purses, cell phones, face masks, clothes, satchels, laptops, text books and back packs. Drop. Lock. Disinfect. 

Join us in helping people to secure their deliveries and protect their families and employees from germ-spread.

And please stay tuned…the best part of our story is yet to come! You can help us write it.