David Freeman’s startup story pairs perfectly with his product, H2COCO. He first thought of launching the business of selling natural coconut water, after a hot Bikram yoga class in New York. I am sure you can imagine the serious thirst quench satisfaction, after trying his first coconut after this class!
David, you have come along way since you’re first coconut encounter. Can you talk us through your first steps from creation to launch?
The year is 2008, I’m in a Bikram yoga studio in NYC, and was given a fresh coconut from the teacher and explained the health benefits, I also happen to enjoy the taste. The teach said these words to me which was that light bulb moment, “You just can’t open it”. After researching, I found a packaged coconut water brand just launched in NYC, but this was something that didn’t exist in Australia or New Zealand. After studying about all the health benefits and history on coconuts, I was inspired to be the first to market (in Australia and NZ) and be part of helping people have healthier options to drink.
You have since created a series of other delicious flavours, was that the original plan or did it happen along the way?
I believe that innovation plays a crucial role in growth so it was always in my plan to develop more sku’s and expand the portfolio, however, the innovation has been
created along the way. Global market research and studying consumers trends plays a significant role in the NPD development and ensures we launch uniquely
better products that sometimes happen to be first to market.
You come from a background of hospitality (nightclubs), how did you approach the research stage of finding factories, having no prior experience in this?
When you decide to pursue your light bulb moment you must first learn as much as possible about the idea as you can, Google is an excellent place to start. I purchased every book I could find on the benefits of coconuts and search every country they were grown in, learnt about the climates and agriculture of the trees. I was determined to become a coconut guru because I genuinely believed in the future of this. After I learnt everything I could from google, I travelled to 4 countries and visited almost 30 different plantations and coconut facilities. the interesting part was 90% of these facilities had the coconut water going to waste. I once heard ‘to become a master of something you don’t have to get a university degree, you need to apply more than 10,000 hours to it’, this was my first goal for the business.
Being successful, automatically pairs you with a lot of competition, how do you learn to deal with this?
Competition is good for any category, take it as a compliment. Particularly in a new, evolving category competitors will help grow and develop it; you just need to
ensure you do it better. Understand what your competitors are doing but focus on your own business, be humble and always show respect to them.
What is some advice you would give yourself in the early stages of a startup?
This could be a very long answer, as I have learnt so much, but looking back there are three bits of advice I will share
- learn to implement better processes that can handle quick growth earlier,
- ensure I have a good understanding of my financials or hire a good finance manager,
- and most of all get a mentor who can help guide you.
What is one thing that comes to mind, that you feel is important for companies to always keep on top of?
On top of the 3 items in the past question, Never lose track of your vision and purpose. If you are a business owner or Entrepreneur ensure you are sharing and
leading the team with your own values which are present in your mission.
Tell us something cool that goes on in your office?
The whole office is involved with helping with New Product Development, the weather is initial ideas, formulation or branding exercises its something that
everyone in the future will confidentiality say “I was apart of making that”.
What will you be speaking about at Myriad 2018?
I’ll be sharing my 6 key points for success when launching innovation.
Thanks for your time today!
David Freeman will be sharing his startup success story in more detail with tips on how to run a successful business in the food/health sector at Myriad 2018, Brisbane