Guest blog: A refreshing take on entrepreneurship
“The story began in 2014 when I helped set two Guinness World Records rowing 5,000 miles from Australia to Africa across the gruelling Indian Ocean for Save the Elephants. On this unsupported expedition, our crew of six pulled more than a million strokes battling the ocean’s currents, enormous seas, three major storms and even a hurricane. With the rowing broken into two hourly shifts, 24 hours a day, physical demands were so extreme that we burned between 8-10,000 calories a day and drank 9-13 litres of water. Passing out or having vivid hallucinations wasn’t uncommon.
Things changed dramatically when one member of the crew mixed his fresh water with sea water; the effect was so profound that we started to mix every second bottle of drinking water with one third sea water, instantly increasing our power, energy levels and reducing hallucinations. For me, it crystallised the importance of hydration to performance and made me consider what else was possible with water. It became my quest to produce the healthiest and most effective water possible, and so the ACTIPH Water journey began.
Researching enhanced and functional waters led me to discover alkaline ionised water, first introduced in Japan in the 1960s as a treatment for digestive problems and other degenerative illnesses. Clinical trials proved alkaline ionised water to hydrate 88% faster than ordinary water. In the USA there are many alkaline waters which are seeing phenomenal growth with the category, growing by 60% per year, and it was very clear there is a huge gap in the market in Europe.
Having no money and living with my parents at the time, the idea of setting up a highly-technical product seemed a long way off. So when I made the commitment to start, I knew I had to surround myself with the best people and form strong strategic partnerships. I used leading bottle water consultants, Zenith International, to help take us through a six-stage gate production process. Partnering with Guy & Co, extensive consumer research helped create a compelling proposition to educate trade and consumers on the benefits of alkalinity. We discovered that pH was a powerful shorthand, leading us to the name ACTIPH, and that waterfalls were nature’s most alkaline water source, giving us the visual device to create a unique brand image. Springing from my story, the brand purpose to ‘Take life to a higher level’ helps position us as a highly disruptive lifestyle brand that stands out in the commodity-driven water market.
Having built strong brand foundations with Guy & Co, we were able to receive significant investment, including Scottish Enterprise and private equity. We have since built a state-of-the-art plant with capacity to produce 24,000 bottles per hour, and gained 5 year IP exclusivity for the technology in Europe.
The hardest part of the journey for me was having the balls to start. Every logical reason will tell you not to do it but if you really believe in something, you have to trust your gut and say to hell with fearing failure. The key is to surround yourself with the best possible team. Guy & Co shared my sense of passion, dedication and our vision from the start, and I’m delighted to have them on this journey with me.”
*Source: Journal of International Sports Nutrition