While the $11.8 billion bottled water market seems like an attractive option for innovation and new entrants, the market has some of the toughest competitors including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Poland Spring. Despite this strong competition, for Michael Fitzgerald II of My Cause Water, the beverage industry was always attractive, and bottled water appeared to be the best way to make a difference while creating a sustainable business.
Starting a bottled water company was not Michael’s first idea within the beverage industry. Although he and his family had no prior experience in the industry, Michael explored the idea of both a micro-brewery focusing on college towns and energy drinks before the father/son co-founders settled on bottled water. Why bottled water? “Everybody needs water,” said Michael. With a passion for making a difference no matter what business he decided to pursue, My Cause Water immediately stood out from what was currently being offered.
After deciding on bottled water, Michael started seeking out research and repots on the market. Instead of paying $14,000 for a report on the industry, he decided to go back to Clemson University to get that same report for free using the university’s resources. Teaming up with his father, they started making prototypes, coming up with a name, and setting up the core of the business. After making the decision to manufacture their water in the US and go with a square bottle, it took 6-8 months to find a manufacturer and source that could product the bottle.
A Different Taste than the Competition
Saying that My Cause Water is a little different from the average bottled water company would be an understatement. The company donates five cents of every bottle of water sold to the charity of the drinkers’ choice, has a square bottle, is a 100% American product, and recently won three industry awards including a tasting award and the Beverage World Magazine overall gold award for the water category. The bottles are also 100% recyclable. At the end of each month, all undesignated donations are compiled and donated to a registered organization.
Being told no every day is not an aspect of every job, but it is common for many entrepreneurs. Michael describes this experience as a great one that he has learned a lot from. The water is sold through a variety of outlets including mom and pop stores and national retailers. In all, My Cause Water has three customers: distributor, retailer, and the end consumer. Each demands a different level of salesmanship. From trying to sell to individual stores to working with national retailers, Michael says they have been told no more than yes, but it makes him stronger.
Michael’s best piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs is, “keep your vision, your passion, hold on to it.” Several years after deciding to start My Cause Water, it’s clear that Michael hasn’t lost his vision or passion as the company continues to grow and make a difference.
Listen to the full interview with Michael Fitzgerald II
- – Specific details step by step of how My Cause Water was turned from an idea to an actual business.
- – Michael’s experience starting a business with his co-founder/father.
- – Behind the bottle’s design: “Modern abstract design, represents the ripple effect.”
- – Biggest obstacle: Finding the right people.
What’s your favorite thing to do to relax? Travel. While on the road, Michael and his dad like to visit landmarks in different cities and he also enjoys his hammock in the summer.
If you had to start a business in a different industry, what would you choose and why? Energy. There is always an opportunity to create something more efficient and better.
If you could tell your 20 year-old self one thing that you’ve learned over the past five years, what would it be? It takes twice as long to get wherever you’re going. It’s not a bad thing because you learn a lot more.
Who is your favorite entrepreneur and why? Steve Jobs. Very inspirational and has a phenomenal story.
International Bottled Water Association