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Building a Brand

Natural Splash Beverages proves it's not ludicrous to think an entrepreneur can make a dent in the beverage industry.

By Peter Kooiman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Increasing brand recognition is always a challenge forhomebased entrepreneurs, especially if you're competing withlarger, more established brands. Such is the case withMinneapolis-based Natural Splash Beverages. Over the next severalmonths, we'll track the fledgling bottled water company'sprogress in three installments. This is the first; check back inNovember for part 2.

To call Natural Splash founder Rodney Davis persistent is likecalling Bea Arthur unfeminine. Definitely true, but grosslyunderstated. "Possessed" is probably the right word forDavis. He trademarked the Natural Splash name nine years ago, buthe didn't incorporate the company until 1999. During that time,he peddled Natural Splash as a lemonade, limeade, strawberrylemonade and raspberry limeade. All the ideas spoiled. Literally."It was supposed to be refrigerated continuously, and it onlyhad a 90-day shelf life," says Davis. "It would get tostores and sit on the floor of their cooler because it wasn'tgetting put on the shelf. After 90 days, it spoiled, and I lost mytail, big-time. I basically shut down the brand for a coupleyears."

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