Water With a Heart: Everybody Water

July 22, 2020

GrowthLab’s new segment to highlight our customers. We want to highlight their growth as well as something the company is working on for the future. 

Growth — The company’s growth story… what drove their entrepreneurial bug? What drove them to start the business?

Lab — If there was one thing the company could execute on in the next 12-18 months, what would it be?

This segment is highlighting Everybody Water, a premium boxed water company. Their mission is to donate 3% of sales to clean water initiatives. Developing this product was a simple way to fund sustainable infrastructure systems that bring clean water and sanitation into homes for the first time. Women and girls are then liberated from carrying water for days and hours on end, giving them more time to go to school and earn incomes, with hope for a brighter future.

What is the Company’s Growth Story and What Drove You to Start the Business?

A number of years ago, my business partner, Kim Reilly and I were talking about what to do next in our careers and we wanted to do something that gave back, specifically to women and girls. I grew up overseas in Thailand and Egypt, so I’ve seen first hand that women and girls don’t have the equality that we do in a lot of developing countries. How could we change this? We wanted to find out what was holding back these women and girls, it turned out to be water. In many of these developing countries women and girls spend most of their days walking to get water. One in five people do not have clean access to water, therefore much of their day is spent obtaining water… they don’t have time to go to school and get an education. On the other hand, the boys spend their time going to school and the men, working. Kim and I just were blown away, we wanted to change this. That’s how Everybody Water came to be (water with a heart). We never went into it thinking “okay, we’re going to be in the beverage industry”, but we went into it thinking “how can we solve this problem for women and girls?”.  

In terms of our growth story, we started with an idea, then over a year of research, finally, finding the best packaging and the right nonprofit to give back to. The nonprofit was super important because we wanted the clean water projects to solve the problem that we saw with women and girls. With this being said, we give a percentage of our gross sales to Water 1st, Water 1st is a women run organization and they bring clean running water to people’s homes. That means a sink, a toilet and a shower. Most nonprofits in the water space bring a pump into a village, which is great because it’s clean water, but it doesn’t solve the problem for women and girls because they’re still having to stand in line for water all day. Water 1st was by far doing the best work out there, they have sustainable projects that have all been successful. This is critical because over 30% of water projects end up failing. 

We ended up doing a lot of research before we went live with the packaging, the nonprofit, and the co-packer… a year ago, January 2019, we launched and it was grassroots. We started off at first, in key pockets within Massachusetts and it wasn’t about volume. It was really about getting the word out to people that we knew would resonate with Everybody Water and who would want to purchase the product. With Everybody Water, they’re not only buying water in a carton, but they’re buying water with a heart that gives back. We started out in juice bars, healthy quick serves, yoga studios, spin studios, and from there, the word got out and we had so much inbound press, which was excellent. That’s when the growth trajectory started to take off. About 10 months after we launched, the Fairmont Copley Hotel approached us about being their main supplier of water. From there, it was the Boston Harbor Hotel, the Boston Ballet, the Opera House, Lululemon, Reebok, and more. There were so many people and companies who wanted to have products that showed meaning. That took our growth to a huge level and very quickly.

If there was one thing the company could execute on in the next 12-18 months, what would it be?

It’s such a different environment now with COVID. We’re looking at things in a very different way. If you were to ask me, five months ago what it looked like, it would be very different. Right now, we’ve really gone back to the grassroots. A lot of our customers were forced to close down and they’re slowly opening up. What I’d like to see in the next 12 to 18 months is that we are in some big establishments. For Kim and myself, really growing out the channels that are important and have now taken on new meaning…  education, is huge, and so is public health, mainly channeling those two sectors and finding those opportunities. We give back clean water and we can do it through a lot of different vehicles. One of them being selling clothing which gives back to the same clean water initiatives. We are looking at a lot of different products that we can sell that are tied into water and licensing agreements with other companies, but those products then also give back to clean water. It’s twofold, one is finding these channels that we haven’t tapped into as much as we had initially and secondly, what other products can we partner with or license with, in order to build out the Everybody Water brand and still give back to clean water. 

Having a partner like GrowthLab has been critical. They have been with us from the beginning, we’re talking early on before we even had a carton. We went to them very early on to build out our model to really think about it. They even helped us with marketing, with the packaging, all different aspects of our business and things that we would’ve never even thought of. The brainstorming sessions with Steven and Dan were incredible early on and then working more recently with Korey and Ben has been great. Having a partner like GrowthLab is super important. 

It’s more than just the finances, it’s the strategy, it’s the poking holes in your thinking, it’s the understanding, putting together the deck for investors, it’s all of those different pieces. My advice to anybody starting a business is start early on with a partner like GrowthLab because it’s instrumental in your growth and learning. It makes you think about the channels that you’re going to be in and how you want to operate. So instead of doing what most beverage companies do, trying to get into the big bucks stores, grocery stores, Target, CVS… we went to the other end and we went grassroots. You have to figure out what’s your why? Our “why” was to give back to clean water and to build a community, that’s how we needed to go to market, which looked different and Growth Lab helped us with that.

–Megan Hayes, Cofounder of Everybody Water

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