Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Robert Koenen, CRO of Boxed Water Is Better, located in Grand Rapids, MI, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Single-serve water in plastic bottles and aluminum cans is killing our planet - less than 20% of them are actually recycled, meaning that more oil and aluminum are being pulled from our planet every day. Boxed Water cartons are made from trees--a truly renewable resource, and it has less than half the carbon footprint than the others. So a simple choice can help make a big difference in our world. We also have planted over 1.5 Million trees in our national forests and clean thousands of miles of choosing us will put your money to use to help save the planet.

Tell us about yourself

I spent 30 years in the fashion footwear industry at companies like UGG and day, I realized that the world didn't need another fashionable shoe...I should do more. A friend of mine founded Boxed Water Is Better 13 years ago and wanted to know if I could help build the community around the brand. Our initial efforts have been around education and awareness of the plastic pollution problem. We're up against the Big Soda companies who want to greenwash their products...but we're fighting with authenticity on our side.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

A couple of things come to mind: Achieving over 100M cartons, 1.5 Million trees, and 1000miles of clean beaches.....but besides that, it's partnering with like-minded companies like Alaska Airlines, Soul Cycle, and Universal to get rid of millions of pounds of plastic yearly. Finally, building a wonderful team of people who work here tirelessly to help get rid of plastic pollution.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest thing is finding priorities--we have such limited resources, and the opportunities are endless. Water is ubiquitous, and we need to make sure that we're servicing our customers as much as possible so we don't let them down--so we don't want our gaze to overstep our reach. Also, making sure our team is properly trained, motivated, and rewarded. All of us come from companies where we could be making more money---but we're here because there's more to life than that... but we need to make sure we keep and build out talent. I'm proud to say we are.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. You're only as good are your make sure you live up to your promises...that's the basis for authenticity. Set values and then live those values-people will recognize that.
  2. Be honest with yourself, consumers, and employees---nothing is perfect, so keep moving forward. Persistence will break down resistance if you have authenticity on your side.
  3. Find your tribe- find partners who believe in what you're doing. Don't chase down a fast buck to make a sale...believe in what you're doing and protect what you're building.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Focus on the consumer in every way---ask yourself if what you're doing is important, impactful, and differentiated from others...and finally, take time to enjoy your friends and family--you can get obsessed, but you need to find balance...finally Choose Boxed Water and plant a tree!!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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