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A Greater Challenge Than Rowing The Atlantic Ocean


What happens when you’ve accomplished a difficult and risky expedition?

When you’ve achieved everything you set out to achieve?

Satisfaction? Fulfilment?

Or the urge to challenge yourself again, trying something different and more difficult…?

Marin Medak skippered my Atlantic row. Here’s what he’s up to now…

Ocean Row Rainbow

Almost three years have passed since I sent this Facebook message to Alastair:

»WANTED: OCEAN ROWER. Check your inbox. «.

It was late 2011, and I was preparing to row across the Atlantic Ocean in a team of four. We were short of the fourth nutcase, and we needed someone – at short notice – to join three strangers on an unsupported ocean cruise.

I, a young boy from Slovenia, emailed Al, to ask if he wanted to be that fourth oar. I couldn’t believe my luck when I received an immediate response. He was interested, he flew to Slovenia to meet me and see if we were a good fit.

We were and we enjoyed the 45 days cruise across the Atlantic. [NOTE from Al: I think Marin and I define ‘enjoy’ slightly differently… ;-)]

Atlantic Rowing

I was quite young when I organised the row, and I was the first Slovenian to row across an ocean. So it was quite easy to get speaking gigs after the journey. I spoke about our experience, “motivated” uptight executives and told them how important it is to challenge yourself.

All the usual things you can read in any self-help book.

But the problem was that I felt extremely empty.

For three years beforehand, I was dreaming every single day about the ocean row. After we actually achieved it, I was left with a big nothing. No more challenges, no more goals, nothing.

I felt empty.

“I really needed a new challenge to start living again.”

I tried to organise another ocean row, a speed record attempt this time. But I failed miserably. The Slovenian economy was in free-fall and I didn’t raise enough sponsorship money. My savings weren’t enough to get the ball rolling, so I decided to postpone it. The big nothing from before became even bigger.

I really needed a new challenge to start living again.

I dropped out of university before turning in my final thesis.
I started making sea kayaking key chains – Hobkey. After a few months of selling plastic key chains to shops and customers all over the world, I figured out what I actually really wanted to do.

I want to build something that works! A smartphone charger, perhaps? The only problem was that I didn’t have a clue how to draw a circuit board or make a 3D model.

I asked around and found a colleague that knew how to make electric stuff and then a product design studio. I was again taken aback by their decision to become partners in the project. I didn’t have a working prototype, only an idea, but Gigodesign, a design studio that won several Red Dot and other awards, said yes. Another lucky strike for the one who dares to ask.

“Another lucky strike for the one who dares to ask.”

And so now, after a year of brainstorming, developing and prototyping, we are finally ready to bring Oivo, the smallest portable iPhone charger, into the world.

Oivo uses AA batteries to fully charge the iPhone. Why AA batteries? Because you can buy them in every store in the world. No cables, no USB plugs needed. Gadgets are useful only if you have them with you at the moment you need them. That’s why we made Oivo so small that it’s actually a keyring. You carry it with you wherever you go.


“Gadgets are useful only if you have them with you at the moment you need them.” 

Oivo is not something you’d use every day. Charging a phone with AA batteries is not ecological – it’s only an occasional solution. But you can charge your phone enough to do what you really need to do, and then use the remaining battery juice to power your home devices – TV remotes, torches…

We have bootstrapped our way, scrapped and scraped, and got ourselves as far as launching Oivo on Kickstarter. Getting enough backers on Kickstarter will allow us to take the product further and start the mass production.


“I think this is the biggest adventure I’ve ever embarked on.”

I think this is the biggest adventure I’ve ever embarked on.

It’s not as dangerous as rowing across an ocean, but when you are challenged by nature, you usually know what to expect.

And, most importantly, nature doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t react to you, it simply is. In contrast, our society, other people and businesses: these things change all the time.

Your competition tries to be better then you and there are far more factors involved in the equation that leads to success.

That’s why creating Oivo feels like an even bigger challenge to me than being out there in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. That’s why Oivo makes me feel alive again.


If you use an iPhone, if you sometimes run out of battery just when you really, really need your phone, and if you enjoy supporting young entrepreneurs and technological innovation, then please do support us if you can on Kickstarter. You can do this through making a donation, pre-ordering an Oivo, or just sharing this link on your social media channels.

Thank you.

Here is a short video that explains Oivo:

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