How the Founder of Flow's Vision for a Mindful Bottled Water Company Attracted Supporters Like Gwyneth Paltrow
Nicholas Reichenbach discusses finding the right product and building the right team to achieve your goals.
Nicholas Reichenbach is the founder and CEO of Flow, a sustainably packaged spring water company.
In the hands of an inauthentic entrepreneur, you can imagine the Shark Tank pitch: "Sure, the bottled water market is saturated, but everyone needs water. If you can just capture .0001% of the market you’ll be a billionaire!" That kind of thinking will get you booed off before the first commercial break. Fortunately, Nicholas and his team have an entirely different approach.
Sourced from Nicholas’ family’s artesian spring, Flow is naturally alkaline water with a high pH level that is both sustainably sourced and packaged. Described as “a mindful water company that considers sustainable kindness and healthy hydration first,” their commitment to the environment is evident in their packaging. The caps are made from sugarcane as opposed to petroleum and the carton is made out of responsibly harvested trees. Dedicated to transparency, they even post their Annual Water Quality Report on their website.
Nicholas also put a great deal of consideration into building out his team and determining strategic partnerships. In our interview, he discusses the incredible advantage of aligning the right team with the right product.
An entrepreneur from the start
"I've always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit. We lived in a small Ontario town called Mildmay, and between the ages of 6 and 8, I would go around to our neighbors with a wheelbarrow trying to sell things that I found around my house – like my father's tools. At 17, I decided to start my first serious business: a clothing store on the beach in Southampton, Ontario, where we used to spend summers. I got a $1,500 small business loan and a credit card with an $800 limit, ran it for a couple of seasons and made some good money. I also started organizing bus tours to Toronto to see concerts, and that's how I started getting into promotion and the music industry. In those early days, I learned to make mistakes, learn and keep going — it always pays off in the end!"
Gaining inspiration…at Burning Man
"At Burning Man, I had an inspirational, life-changing experience. There's a zero-trace policy there — you have to recycle and take home everything you came with. People brought in tons of plastic water bottles and at the end, threw them all into recycling. And that's where I had an epiphany about Flow. I thought there's a huge white space here. There's an opportunity to completely disrupt the bottled-water industry by offering consumers the highest quality spring water in more innovative, sustainable packaging. Flow's source is my family's artesian spring, it releases over a million liters of mineral-rich, alkaline water into the environment naturally every day. It was very serendipitous."
Flow’s ancient and unique differentiator
"Flow is sourced in South Bruce County, Ontario and now, I'm proud to say we have a second, unique source in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. What makes Flow so unique is that the water is filtered through limestone-encased aquifers at both our springs, where it collects essential minerals magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate and potassium that give it that smooth delicious taste and an alkaline pH of 8.1. It’s all-natural, not a scientific process to filter tap water and alter it at a molecular level to achieve alkalinity. This is water like our ancestors drank and our bodies recognize it."
The benefits of a mission-driven team
"We invest in the best people and partner with the highest caliber of brand partners. You only need two things to be successful: a product that people want and believe in and an amazing team to bring it to market. That’s when the magic happens! We have an incredible product development team that developed our six delicious certified organic flavored waters at a time when consumers are looking for more ways to achieve their hydration goals. We’re lucky in that our product has naturally brought some amazing people our way that wanted to work with Flow."
Partnering with Gwyneth Paltrow and Shawn Mendes
"To be quite honest, it was a pinch-me moment working with Gwyneth Paltrow! I have always been a huge fan of hers and I’m so impressed by the movement she's built with goop. At Flow, our biggest customer segment is the wellness enthusiast and Gwyneth Paltrow is at the forefront of this movement. She made wanting to take better care of yourself cool and fun. First, we worked with goop by partnering on branded digital content and experiential at In goop health summits. Gwyneth loves Flow and we love her so we asked her team if she would like to attend one of our biggest trade shows, and she did. The interest and awareness she generated were meaningful. The natural next step was the summer campaign. Working with her and her amazing team was such a pleasure because we share the same values about the importance of the choices we make as individuals, families and companies."
"We also recently announced that Shawn Mendes is an investor. He started drinking Flow and ordering it to his home as an early subscriber to our home delivery service. I knew there was something there since he was already a Flow fan and come on, he's one of the biggest musical artists in the world! I reached out and met with his manager, Andrew Gertler. Shawn and Andrew are both very smart businessmen, I'm lucky to have them as investors and advisors to the brand."
Nicholas’ advice to other entrepreneurs
"Never underestimate the power of positivity! The most important thing about leadership is complete, mindful positivity. There are two ways to think in the world — negative or positive — and I fall on the positive side. That's the greatest gift I can give – an injection of positive energy that makes people feel motivated, to feel like they want to be the most passionate and successful person that they can be."