What they do: Give Me Tap sells co-branded reusable water bottles. For every bottle sold they give a person in Africa clean safe drinking water. Each bottle also grants drinkers exclusive access to a network of restaurants and retailers who benefit from a new customer base and direct access to users via the Give Me Tap app. Why it's a big deal: Because they’ve helped over 9,000 people get access to clean safe drinking water by selling 42,000 water bottles for a profit. Businesses buy water bottles as a way to save money and give employee gifts that showcase good company values. Retailers benefit from new customers at zero cost. The earth benefits from reduced plastic waste, and 780 million people stand to benefit from access to clean drinking water.
Already profitable, need funds to build sales team.
Founder: TED Speaker, PhD in Math, Goldman Sachs alum.
Why investors us
$637,300 since our founding
Because 780 Million people don’t have access to clean water, and Give Me Tap has found a profitable solution to the problem. Plus, the founder Edwin is truly inspirational! A Doctor of Applied Mathematics who gave up a huge Goldman Sachs paycheck to start Give Me Tap out of his mother’s garage, he will do anything to make it happen - this is about more than just providing water for millions, it’s for his father and his heritage in Africa.
It’s this fire that has driven Edwin to find a sustainable solution that’s a win-win for everyone involved. Retailers get tons of new customers for free and a direct marketing channel via the Give Me Tap app. Corporations save money, co-brand with a great cause, and give employees gifts they actually want. Millions of people get access to clean drinking water. Edwin and his team have managed to do all of this with almost zero funding, they’re already profitable and growing over 100% per month. They just need some money to fuel the fire and find more clients.
We are selling water bottles for the greater good. For every bottle that you buy, we take a portion of the revenue and give a person in Africa five year's worth of clean drinking water. Each bottle also grants drinkers exclusive access to a network of cafes and restaurants. Users can go and get free water refills on demand without having to purchase anything. The bottle helps customers reduce plastic waste and save money on bottled water while providing clean water for those in need. But it also helps stores get free foot traffic. So win/win/win.
How fast are you growing?
We are growing 123% month-over-month since January. We just finished March with $50,000 in revenue, after $19,000 in February. Most of these are first time partnerships, but we’ve recently seen huge growth potential in reorders. Deloitte for example has ordered seven times so far, Cambridge University three times once every semester since we contacted them. As companies grow and make new hires they buy more bottles, as new classes start or yearly milestones are hit companies order more bottles. A client initially ordered 2,000 bottles before their IPO, after going public they hired another 400 people and ordered another 400 bottles.
What is your impact so far?
We are a profitable company that was bootstrapped until Y-Combinator this winter. We’ve helped just over 9,000 people get clean drinking water to date by selling 42,000 Give Me Tap water bottles, for total revenue over $400,000.
How did you come up with the idea?
I was on a health kick in the last few months of my PhD, and part of my regiment was a lot of water drinking. I was pushing to get healthy, drinking about five liters of water every day and countless times I walked into a store asking for water, and was rejected every time. I didn't really understand why because I knew they had clean drinking water just behind the counter.
But the idea is really rooted in the fact that my father grew up without clean water. So I found a way to help people like me here in the U.S. find free water and bring a vital necessity to people like my father who are really in need of clean drinking water.
How did you turn this idea into a company?
I knew restaurants and retailers willing to give out free water were crucial to the success of Give Me Tap. So I started by walking from business to business ensuring they’d be willing to give out free water in exchange for foot traffic and supporting water in Africa. Almost all the stores said yes, so I researched sourcing products from overseas and just got started.
We started Give Me Tap on campus at University of Manchester before moving down to London. In London we quickly partnered with over 600 retailers from Mom-n-Pop stores to Pizza Hut and even bigger retailers. These partners have become consumers; stores, restaurants, and now huge organizations like Deloitte, KPMG, Visa and more are purchasing bottles for their employees. They buy the bottles to give to their staff as a way to accentuate the values that they hold for their brand and their company. Corporations want to reduce waste and be more sustainable while helping their staff stay healthy and hydrated.
How much impact does each bottle make in Africa?
For every bottle we sell $2 is donated to fund drinking water in Africa, which pays for 5 years of water for someone in need. For instance, it costs approx. $6,000 to drill a new well in Ghana, and each new well can provide water for ~800 people for about 20 years. The cost breaks down to about 39 cents per year per person for clean drinking water.
How do you get corporations to buy in?
Companies are always looking for ways to merchandise their brand, give employee gifts, and showcase good company values. We provide a solution for all of this - branded bottles, do-good employee gifts, and walking billboards for company values. Unlike the variety of other corporate gifts, companies actually want their name on our bottles - because it shows they care about the great good, about their fellow human beings. And the product is fundamentally useful, everyone can and should use a reusable water bottle. Which also means employees use the bottle everywhere, which prompts conversation, promotes corporate brand and the good they do.
What are the specific goals for companies buying into Give Me Tap?
Our corporate clients have a variety of motivations when buying our bottles: saving money, minimizing waste, brand awareness, employee retention, and just doing good for the world.
Deloitte UK wasted thousands of dollars on 2 million plastic cups for water every year. So they came to us to reduce this waste, save money on cups and trash collection while also giving back and making their employees feel good.
Employees and customers attribute more of themselves than ever to the brands they purchase from and work for. The increased importance of brand association for companies trying to recruit the best talent aligns with us perfectly.
How expensive are your bottles?
Give Me Tap bottles are made from high quality aluminum so out bottles are 20% more expensive than other cheap plastic water bottles companies use for corporate gifts. But we understand that cost is a huge concern for companies, so we are also significantly more affordable than your high end reusable water bottles that are made of similar quality as our product. Many stainless steel BPA free products cost 25-30 dollars a bottle even after branded volume discounts. We are much cheaper than the high-end alternatives and we also provide impact on the ground in Africa.
How important is the brand? And how do you plan to build it?
Our brand is super critical to our success. Every time our logo is seen it should evoke the story we are trying to tell, because consumers, companies, and partners want to be associated with our message. We are building the Give Me Tap brand through effective storytelling that connects the purchase with the impact. We want to empower our customers and make them feel good for doing good. If they’re empowered by the story they will tell our story, encourage others to join, and become our marketing team. The more the story is told, the more impact we’ll be able to deliver in Africa and beyond as we expand our efforts to other parts of the world in need of fresh water. There are still 748 million people without clean water, 300 million of those are in Africa. Sharing our story is the best way to help these people.
What do you think of other corporate water charities like Charity:Water?
We support all of them, we all have the same dream with a different vision of how to get there. If we support each other, utilize each other’s innovations and technology, leverage and share our partnerships we stand to do so much more together. Our success isn’t mutually exclusive from Charity:Water and others like them. Our stories are similar and the more people that know the story of clean water for all the more successful we’ll all be. Together we can do so much.
How big is the market?
It’s a marvel how much we currently spend on plastic bottles, $60 Billion last year. Right now there is a massive shift away from throw-away plastic to reusable bottles as more communities ban plastic and generally people are more conscious of their effect on the environment.
The reusable water bottle market is the fastest growing durable consumer good right now, it’s exploding. $1.5 Billion is spent on reusable water bottles every year and the market is projected to grow 10X in the next decade. More and more people are switching away from single use products into things that are much more sustainable and reusable. A variety of home ware companies have been buying up water bottle companies over the past couple of years to bring reusables in house. Rubbermaid just acquired Contigo for over $300 Million in an attempt to really get a stronghold in this market place.
Cities in Massachusetts and California have already banned plastic outright, and it’s a trend that will soon proliferate through the states. It takes a lot of energy to produce plastic bottles, plastic is just oil in a different form. The litter affects wildlife, oceans and beaches, and even if we do manage to collect the trash it’s incredibly polluting to dispose of. Finally plastic water bottles leak numerous unhealthy chemicals into the water we’re drinking. Communities have started to recognize all the pitfalls of plastic water bottles and are finally taking action. Now more and more cities will follow suit.
There is a growing market for reusable goods, water bottles especially. But the other half of demand results from growing conscious consumerism - people that buy products that are socially conscious. Tom shoes and Warby Parker have proven this model to be successful. . A recent Nielson study also shows that consumers place a premium value on these products; 55% of global consumers are willing to pay more for products from companies that are committed to positive social and/or environmental impact.
Additionally, millennials particularly want their purchases to have purpose. According to the 2013 Cone Communications CSR Study, 72% of millennials believe that they can make a positive social and environmental impact through their purchases.Increasingly, consumers would rather do good with their purchases than give to charity. Tom’s Shoes generates $250 Million a year and are still growing. As more millennials get older, as society becomes more socially conscious in general, demand for goods with an impact is only going to rise.
Where do your sales come from?
Right now, 80 percent of our business is via corporate sales, which is great because it’s a predictable and repeatable business model. We embed ourselves as key to employee engagement and retention.
What types of companies are you targeting and how do you get in the door?
80% of our revenue comes from corporate clients. There are two different types of companies we go after: smaller startups with several hundred employees and huge companies with many thousand employees. In smaller startups there is an office manager in charge of employee gifts that we’ll approach directly. This is typically a quick sale that we can close in a few minutes or a couple of days. As we approach the larger companies like the HSBC, KPMG, the Deloittes of this world that we've worked with, we actually go through like a dedicated environmental team whose responsibility is to minimize waste and / or raise the social impact of the company. As you’d expect this is a longer sales cycle, but our success rate is incredibly high once we explain what we do, and how they stand to save money, make employees happy, and do some good for the world along the way.
How do you acquire merchant partners willing to give free water?
This is all about hustling hard, we hit the ground and talk to as many partners as possible. There are two types of partners: Mom-and-Pop and independent stores with less than 10 locations, and big companies like Whole Foods and Starbucks. We typically just walk into small stores and speak with the owner, which works really well. For the larger brands we take a top down approach.
How often do users actually fill up and spend with your partners?
We just launched an app to show users where our retailers are and track the actual foot traffic we send to our partners. We collect data on how much extra foot traffic we bring in and how much our users spend when they do. Soon we’ll have concrete numbers and we’ll be able to sell larger and larger chains on the financial upside of partnering.
The app also gives retailers the opportunity to convert water drinkers to repeat customers with deals and rewards. We’ve created a communication network between our partners and thousands of potential customers they would never have had access to. These customers are typically wealthy, socially conscious millennials - a demographic that every retailer is trying hard to capture.
How do you build the pumps?
We’ve partnered with several really experienced NGO’s on the ground in Ghana that have been building wells for 25 years. They know the specific needs of each community, the types of wells that work best, what the water will be used for e.g. agriculture, home use, etc. These partners provide far more expertise than we could at this stage, so we help fund their hard work and focus on raising the money from bottle sales.
How do you share the story?
Every customer we have is critical to our success, so we try our best to share the impact that they’ve had as a part of our community. We collect video and pictures that we share with our customers. We write impact reports every year, we have quarterly updates that we publish via social media and an email newsletter for our community members to showcase the impact they they’re creating. Our customers are the reason thousands in Africa now have fresh drinking water, and we have to show them just how influential they are.
What are your production costs?
Right now we pay $2.72 per bottle. But that’s because there we had to air freight the bottle to USA because of a long strike in the shipping industry this winter that added $1.12 to our shipping costs. The average cost of the stainless steel bottles is $1.61. As soon as we start shipping by sea and not air our prices will be cut by another 50-70%. Right now our average margins are 74 percent and we expect that to rise to 84 percent soon. As we scale through volume rise further to 90 percent margins.
How does this get really big?
Corporate sales will be huge for us, but the larger vision includes much more than that. We’ll soon launch a Teespring like campaign platform for universities and organizations to create branded water bottles with zero upfront costs. The only difference is we’ll always have the Give Me Tap brand on the bottles because the brand illustrates the impact and our story. That’ll help us grow very, very quickly via a cool branded consumer merchandising channel.
What we want to do to get really big is disrupt the whole drink sector. So we are about to release a bottle that can hold both hot and cold beverages which gives us an opportunity to work with our café network partners and enable them to offer discounts to our customers for both hot and cold drinks. But the long term vision is removing plastic bottles entirely - customers leave their home with one bottle and can fill up on any drink anywhere without buying the plastic bottle. Whether that was an apple juice or a hot drink or some water you needed. You could use our bottle and get access to water and other drinks on demand via some sort of subscription plan. The data, purchasing behavior, and network of partners we’re building via our app is crucial for this. We’ll be the network of beverages consumers want, without the waste.
What is your story?
Prior to Give Me Tap I was an investment banker doing quantitative analysis. I have a PhD in Applied Mathematics, and a 1st Class Bachelors degree in Computer Science and Math. I quit banking and started Give Me Tap from England in 2013, and quickly built the team to four people. They are really focused on great execution, how we can grow this and have an impact, and also scale very quickly. Much of this is about connecting a consumer's mind with a water bottle that changes lives and we want to do that as quickly as possible. Toms Shoes owns shoes in this regard, Warby Parker owns glasses, our team plans to own charitable water bottles at a time when reusable water bottles are taking off.
What is the world that you want to create through Give Me Tap like?
I want everyone to have easy access to clean drinking water. I would really like to see a systematic approach to water access and infrastructure like we have here in the U.S and Europe. If we build true infrastructure that provides continuous and sustainable access to clean water, with sewage systems and clean running taps, these communities will thrive and provide so much to our world. It’s a win-win in so many ways, and we want to build this reality.
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