Founder Focus: Dash Water
Coming from farming backgrounds and with experience at Cawston Press, the two founders were painfully aware of how much produce never actually reaches the consumer’s plate. Inspired to do something about it and do it naturally, they created Dash Water.
WHAT WAS YOUR EUREKA MOMENT?
While Alex and I were working in Sales at Cawston Press, we used to obsess over other beverage brands (still do) from all over the world. Naturally then, when we heard there was an opportunity to extract water from my family farm in Shropshire, we had an idea. It was simple, how can we add flavour to spring water using fruit and vegetables without any of the sugar.
We also had an understanding that there was an issue with food waste in the UK with 30%-40% of all produce not ending up on our plates, this is mainly due to supermarkets wanting perfect looking produce, so it was important that we built a brand that tackles the problem head on.
WHAT WAS YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH?
In short, Dash Water is a British sparkling spring water infused with wonky (ones not wanted by the supermarkets) fruit and vegetables for a subtle dash of flavour containing no sugar, sweeteners or calories. There are four flavours – cucumber, lemon, raspberry – and a new one on the way this month, Blackcurrant.
HOW DID YOU TEST DASH WATER?
We would set up sampling tables in Battersea Park at the weekend and make the water by chopping up fruit and vegetables and letting it infuse overnight. We would then put these infusions in a soda stream and serve them to passers-by. From the very beginning, it was clear people enjoyed the taste!
Meanwhile, in the summer of 2016, we became part of Escape the City‘s start up tribe. It was a fantastic programme that enabled us to work on our idea and speak to experts about all aspects of starting a business and ultimately be accountable for our actions.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE THINKING OF STARTING A BUSINESS?
Get in front of the right people and set the bar high. We got a lot of inspiration from US and the category over there so for us it was important that we spoke to as many Founders of brands we admired as possible. This involved going undercover in San Francisco to meet the women behind a brand that was leading the way in our category in the US. Somehow, we hoodwinked her into meeting and what we learnt in that 45 minutes was crazy!
There is a time, however, when you need to stop just meeting people and start building.
DO YOU HAVE ANY MENTORS?
At Dash Water we have several investors who all play a big part in the business and we see all of them as mentors. We chose individuals that share our passion for food waste, ethics and shared vision to shake up the category.
WHAT IS THE BOOK YOU RECOMMEND THAT EVERYONE READS?
While we were starting up I read a lot of business books but one that stood out for me was Friction by Jeff Rosenblum and Jordan Berg.
WHAT IS THE MOST WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT THAT YOU HAVE MADE?
Time is very important; from conception to launch into Selfridges it took us over 2.5 years. However, that time was extremely important and allowed us to refine and perfect our product and brand proposition. You get one shot with buyers and if your product isn’t good enough, it’s hard to get another go – we learnt a lot by testing our branding and product outside of retail, which gave us a product we were confident the consumer was going to want from the get-go.
WHAT ONE FAILURE ARE YOU GLAD YOU EXPERIENCED?
We tried to do a lot ourselves in the early days which cost us a lot of time and money and often ended in failure. On one occasion we rented a large van and bought a big IBC container and drove all the way to North Wales to fill it up with spring water. On our return, we found that the water had been contaminated and couldn’t be used – we can laugh about it now, just!
These failures are so important to the DNA of the brand, consumers are smart and can see spot an authentic brand.
WHAT PIECE OF INDUSTRY ADVICE DO YOU OFTEN HEAR THAT YOU DISAGREE WITH?
Our early success was sales driven what we’ve learnt is that if you get the right people drinking your product in the right location – that’s the best form of marketing. I think people get too caught up with other forms of traditional marketing, concentrate on getting your product on the shelf first so people have the chance to buy it.
Dash Water is available at Ocado, Amazon, Boots, M&S, BP, Wholefoods and Selfridges.