Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with William Spencer, CEO of h2go Energy Water, located in Burlington, VT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
h2go is a simpler, cleaner caffeinated beverage. We like to call it energy water. With only a few recognizable organic ingredients, we provide an energy alternative that doesn't have all the chemicals, preservatives, sugar, and artificial sweeteners in mainstream energy drinks. Our goal is to make energy feel good. We strive to help you perform at your peak mental and physical state while maintaining balance, focus, and control. With naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, our organic caffeine delivers a longer-lasting, steadier energy boost without the peaks, crashes, and jitters that come with synthetic caffeine.
We aim to offer a hydrating energy alternative for the active adventurer lifestyle. Hikers, bikers, skiers, and athletes of all types can enjoy the subtle energy boost while satisfying their hydration needs. h2go looks to make a positive daily impact as the better energy choice for both your body and your environment. We give portions of our profits to environmental sustainability efforts and use no plastic in our packaging process.
We want to change the energy market with a focus on personal health and a passion for environmental sustainability. Thus, h2go Energy Water became the pioneer product in a vision of an expansive brand portfolio focused on health-conscious alternatives and environmental sustainability. We are on a path to create a whole series of varying products that fill the necessities of our busy, everyday lives but in a clean, healthy, and natural form that makes sustainability and brand impact the top priority.
Tell us about yourself
Since the early days of selling baseball hats to my kindergarten classmates on the school bus, I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit driving me forward. I find that there is no fulfillment and pride comparable to that which comes from building something of your very own. Whether carpentry, motor vehicles, video projects, or building a company, I have always reveled in that excitement of witnessing the creation and tangible result of hard work. I've always dreamed of starting and running my own business; the question was simply: which industry?
While majoring in Film Production and Business in college, I had planned to work in the film/media industry and combine my business acumen and creative strengths in this field. Video production and storytelling were my callings, and I followed that path. However, while working side jobs in food service and trying to land a production job, I became fascinated with the breadth of the complexity of the beverage industry. Seeing that drinking water and caffeine consumption aren't going the way of Blockbuster anytime soon, I set out to fill a niche in the energy drink market. I personally have a distaste for coffee, will not consume all the unpronounceable chemicals in energy drinks, and don't like sugar-loaded caffeinated sodas. I wanted caffeine but had problems with all the readily available beverages in the market. Caffeinated beverages are lagging behind the health-conscious, organic-focused consumer trends, and h2go aims to help change that. My goal is to continue developing simpler, healthier, and better-for-you alternatives to the things we take for granted in our daily activities.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I see my biggest accomplishment thus far as being simply the journey itself. I am most proud of taking a roughly formed idea and developing that vision into a fully formed product that is sold in large-scale national retailers today. To be able to walk into a big grocery store, navigate over to the beverage aisle, and be able to physically reach out and pick up a tangible result of what was merely a small spark of an idea only a few years ago - is exhilarating beyond measure. Having made that idea into reality while managing and learning each different aspect of the beverage business process myself is the accomplishment that I am most proud of so far.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Balance. The pressure that you put on yourself as a founder and the looming doubt is arguably the most difficult part of being a business owner. We are constantly seeing figures on how many small businesses fail each year. As founders, we put more pressure on ourselves than everyone else combined. Meeting those expectations of success involves countless sacrifices - of time, effort, finances, and relationships. Managing that pressure while maintaining a balanced, healthy life has been one of the hardest things about being a business owner. Our businesses truly are passion projects and feel like a huge piece of our identities, but there is life outside our startups that needs to be lived too.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you have strong differentiators. Whether disrupting a massive industry or squeezing into an already saturated market, your business/product/service NEEDS to be set apart in some way. Find the ways that you stand out and stand above the others - focus on those. Emphasize those!
- Learn to expect the word "No" at every turn. When you plan and prepare to face rejection, you can begin developing ways to adapt and get through that "No" before it even comes. No wall you face is ever unbreakable – perseverance and creativity will conquer any opposition. Keep focused on the destination, and every rejection will just feel like a small bump in the road.
- Surround yourself with supportive people and always ask them for help, advice, and ideas! You can't do it alone - whether it's a great co-founder or having a close circle of loving, encouraging friends & family to keep you going along the way, you will have much better chances of success if you keep them close and trust in them.
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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