Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus

Epiphany from the skies: Sustainable and healthy soft drink solution

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Epiphany from the skies: Sustainable and healthy soft drink solution

Related tags Startup company Innovation Sustainability Soft drink

An Austrian startup selling health focused fruity water 'drops' is hoping to shake up the soft drinks industry with its sustainable and convenient solution.

Launched in Vienna in 2017 by co-founders Martin Murray, Henry Wieser and Christoph Hermann, Waterdrop​ aims to provide consumers across the world with a more healthy water intake and freedom from plastic bottles.

The idea for the business came to Murray while on a plane in 2015.

He tells NutraIngredients:  “I was on a plane with my mother – she’d come to visit me while I was studying for my MBA - and I was given a cup of water. I remember staring at this cup of water in front of me and thinking how cool it would be to have something I could just drop into this to turn it into a tastier drink with extra health benefiting vitamins and minerals.

"There’s syrups and powders but those are awkward to carry and messy to use, especially if you’re on-the-go. Then there’s Berocca type tablets and effervescent supplements but they are taken once daily, they aren't created to help you drink more water, and they don’t fit in the neck of a water bottle so you couldn't add them to a bottle of water.

“I thought, surely I could use that effervescent technology but pack it with fruit and plant extracts to give plain water a tasty and healthy boost. If you could do that then all a person would need is to carry a reusable bottle of water and these small tablets with them and you could remove the need for buying unhealthy soft drinks and circulating more plastic bottles."

Murray says he has always found the beverage industry to be outdated in how it relies on the manufacture, transport, purchase, and disposing of plastic bottles.

"The beverage industry isn’t really about selling beverages at all, it’s really about selling plastic bottles, and it's remained unchanged for years."

He started to realise that his idea for tablet that could be dropped into water, could not only help reduce the amount of plastic waste but also help people to drink more real water, instead of other soft drinks.

“So many people don’t drink enough water simply because they don't find the taste appealing but there are so many health benefits associated with simply drinking enough water each day!

“That thought on the plane just didn’t leave me because it was so clear in my mind that this product needed to exist.”

After completing his MBA, he threw his ‘heart and soul’ into this idea with the help of his friend Christoph and his brother Henry.

The company has done extraordinarily well with 80% of sales online, allowing it to expand quickly. It has already expanded to a team of 150 people across 10 countries in Europe and next the team wants to take to US (the USA prelaunch happened in December) and eventually to Asia. 

“It’s very motivating to see that we are actually making a difference," ​Murray says. "Our consumers tell us that they can’t remember the last time they bought a soft drink in a plastic bottle and they tell us they are drinking so much more water. It’s really great to know that we are playing our role in improving people’s health and improving the planet’s health.”

The no-nasties range is made from plant and fruit extracts and each microdrop uses 98% less plastic than traditional bottled beverages. Thanks to the recyclable individual packaging, just one plastic bottle cap is the equivalent of 10 microdrinks.

In-keeping with the company's environmentally friendly positioning, the use of aluminium and PVC are not permitted in the products either. The sleeves are made from a combination of PET and COC films, which provide sufficient protection for each drink as well as being recyclable.

Due to their small cube shape, the drops require far less storage space when being transported and can be shipped in a more environmentally friendly manner.

The range includes nine different water drops all with a different flavour and functional purpose:  

RELAX (hibiscus, acerola, aronia) providing vitamins B1 and B7 for psychological function, and Vitamin C for normal function of the nervous system.

BOOST (blackcurrant, elderflower, acai) offering Vitamins B6 and B12 for energy and Vitamin C to help reduce fatigue.

DEFENCE (cranberry, rosehip, moringa) provides Vitamin C, Riboflavin (B2) for energy and Biotin (B7) for macronutrient metabolism.

GLOW (mango, cactus fruit, artichoke) contains ​Vitamin E to protect cells from oxidative stress, Thiamine for energy, and Vitamin C for collagen formation.

YOUTH (peach, ginger, ginseng, dandelion) with the vitamins biotin and niacin to contribute to the maintenance of normal skin and Vitamin C for normal collagen formation.

FOCUS (lime, baobab, acerola) with Vitamin C and pantothenic acid (B1) to contribute to normal mental performance, and thiamine (B5) to contribute to normal functioning of the nervous system.

LOVE (pomegranate, goji berry, schizandra) with Goji berry, from traditional Chinese medicine with an element of schizandra, often used as an aphrodisiac.

ZEN (star Fruit, white tea, lemongrass) offering Folate to contribute to the normal function of the immune system, Biotin to stimulates physical work capacities, and Vitamin C to maintain energy and general vitality.

CLEAN (Herbs, Juniper berry, Stinging nettle) providing vitamin E to protectcells from oxidative stress and Niacin to help reduce fatigue.

NERO (Kola nut, activated charcoal, guarana, blackberry) providing 80mg of natural caffeine

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