In an era where health-conscious consumers are increasingly seeking hydration solutions that not only quench their thirst but also nourish their bodies, the bottled water industry has witnessed a significant transformation.
One particular trend has been the rise of alkaline water, acclaimed for its potential health benefits. The US bottled alkaline water market is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 11.5% from 2022 to 2027.
In this interview, we speak with 23-year-old Augustine Amoakohene, the co-founder of Augi Water, to learn more about his journey from streetwear aficionado to health-conscious entrepreneur.
What inspired you to create Augi Water and enter the alkaline water market?
In short, my mother and my interest in streetwear and high fashion inspired me to create Augi Water. One of my many idols is Virgil Abloh, who has a strong influence in high fashion and streetwear, or the culture language, which has been a hobby of mine since a very young age.
At 10 years old, Supreme was the brand that opened my interest in streetwear. As I grew older, my interest in high fashion was triggered by my mother, as I accompanied her during her shopping sprees. Not only do I credit her for her ability to spot trends and be fashionable, but she also exposed me to the understanding that health is the most important component of wealth by constantly consuming premium-grade water, such as Fiji and Evian. Taking note of this habit is what subconsciously brought Augi Water to life.
What makes Augi Water stand out from other alkaline water brands in the competitive market?
Augi Water differentiates itself from other alkaline bottled water because we are not just a bottled water brand, we are everything a bottled water brand entails and more. Of course, our mission promotes the consumption of high-quality alkaline water and understanding the many health benefits of alkaline water.
In addition to the importance of sustainability, we exceed minimal sustainability efforts by utilizing our landfill biodegradable bottles. However, just as important as the functional benefits, Augi Water has developed a bottled water brand that has attached itself to streetwear, high fashion, and current culture trends, attracting a new customer group and conclusively inspiring a new generation of bottled water drinkers; Blurring the lines between a lifestyle and a bottled water brand. For clarity, think of us as the Balenciaga of water.
What strategies have driven your nationwide retail partnerships, and how do you plan to expand further?
Persistence, dedication, and faith are the strategies that have driven my current retail partnerships. Augi Water is not a venture-back start-up, with the ability to call on an investor who can provide additional funding or has a pre-existing relationship with retailers.
Therefore, every retail partnership established has been on my own through communication with these company’s decision-makers. When given the opportunity, I executed sharing the mission behind the brand with category managers and buyers, who I believe appreciate my mission and aptitude.
As with any start-up founder, I plan to expand further by maintaining relationships and pushing forward new outreach with retailers’ decision-makers, leaning heavily on self-introduction and introductions from existing distribution partners. I also intend to look for the involvement of brokerage firms and/or hire personnel with existing retailer relationships.
What unique relationships or partnerships have you developed that you feel will help grow your business?
There are several relationships I believe will benefit the growth of Augi Water. The ones I think will be the most impactful, initially, are Matthew Odunuyi, Nick Jarjour, Chief Keef, Lil Uzi Vert, and select beverage team members at GoPuff. All of these individuals play unique roles in past and upcoming opportunities.
What challenges have you faced as a young entrepreneur?
A shorter question to answer is what challenges haven’t I faced as a young entrepreneur? I feel like I have encountered every challenge there is as a young entrepreneur. The beauty of it all is that Augi Water is still thriving. Did you know that the average age of a successful start-up founder is 45 years old?
Being overlooked or brushed off and told to come back at another time due to my age is the challenge that bothers me the most. As a result of my age and or lack of experience, some retail buyers and investors are questionable about my brand’s ability to perform. I can only continue to push forward and work hard enough to be an outlier of statistics for the average age of a start-up founder.
Where do you see the company in the next 5 years?
In the next five years, I see Augi Water’s availability in 75-90% of large chain retailers accessible throughout the United States. At that time, I would love to see the company in discussion with potential acquirers.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs interested in starting a beverage brand?
My advice to others would be to remain persistent with outreach to retailers. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. A great quote to reflect on is one by Saint Augustine, ” Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”