Nicholas Reichenbach, founder & CEO of Flow, the mindful-water company, talks about launching into the UK market and how the inspiration for the product came from a trip to Burning Man.
We know that Flow has been a massive success in North America and Canada, why did you decide to launch Flow in the UK?
There are two reasons why Flow will be launching in the UK. Firstly, the Canadian government and the EU signed a pretty instrumental free trade agreement which now allows Canadian CPG companies in food and beverages to bring their products over to the EU for free. Once this was signed we got approached by a lot of distributors in the UK who were experiencing the beginnings of the plastic movement. They began to express an interest in Flow, as we are the perfect alternative to plastic bottled water.
What do you think are the main challenges in launching a brand in a new country?
The main challenges are always trying to find the best partners to launch and so we’ve tired to be selective and replicate the same success that we had in Canada and the US.
Have there been any challenges you’ve had to overcome in setting up Flow in the UK?
When launching a business in another country there are always challenges but I’m pleased to say the launch of Flow in the UK has been rather seamless. However, I do think this is because we have put a lot of time and effort into hiring the right people. We have appointed a new vice president of the company, Alina Carey, to run all of Europe who will be based in the UK and has a massive understanding of the beverage market having worked with large companies like Heineken and Voss. It’s just about taking the time to find the right people and the best distribution partners and retailers to carry our premium alkaline water.
What do you hope to achieve in the UK and Europe with the brand?
Well, first and foremost, we want to replace all single use plastic used for holding water. To take tens of millions of plastic bottles out of circulation and put in a fully renewable resource package, which is 100 per cent recyclable in the UK would just be phenomenal. Also, simply making 100 per cent naturally alkaline mineral water with all of its benefits available for the mass UK market would be a great achievement.
Where can we expect to see Flow stocked in the future?
You can expect to see Flow in all leading health food and beverage retailers which number at around 1500. But first and foremost we will be available at natural food and health destinations where the alkalinity benefits of water are well known to customers. The next step is to stock Flow in places where premium water in plastic is currently sold, hopefully we’ll be able to get some of those products off the shelves and Flow onto them!
Can you tell us a bit about your career history and where the idea of Flow came from?
Since High School I have mostly worked with consumer products. I’ve worked as a concert promoter at venues, as one of the first distributors of Red Bull in Canada and then I got into digital in 1997 where I started selling ringtones and video games. I’ve always been in the consumer products industry and Flow is the net sum of all my experience. I got the inspiration for Flow when I was living in San Francisco: after attending Burning Man festival with 70,000 others who have to drink at least 4 litres of water a day to stay hydrated in the desert, I realised the negative environmental impact which came with everyone drinking water out of plastic bottles and the negative effect plastic has on the taste of water. It was then when I realised the water industry needed to change.
What is the best advice someone has ever told you in setting up a business?
One of my good friends, who is a very successful entrepreneur, told me the best piece of advice. This was that, ‘the one thing you absolutely need in business is tenacity and the will to never to stop until you reach your success’. It’s true, you need to be super tenacious to succeed, however, when things don’t quite go to plan, you can’t be afraid of failure.