Bevi is a company that is focused on reducing the number of plastic bottles consumers use when drinking water. It has two products aimed at helping with this. CEO Sean Grundy took the time to answer a few questions about Bevi, its mission, and its products for CleanTechnica.
Q&A With Sean Grundy
CleanTechnica: What inspired you to co-found Bevi? What problems in the water industry were you hoping to solve?
Sean Grundy: “I co-founded Bevi with my friends, Frank and Eliza, in 2013, so it’s been almost a decade now. We started the business purely with the idea of eliminating single-use disposable bottles and cans. The context here is that the bottled beverage industry is arguably the most environmentally wasteful industry in the world. Something like a hundred billion plastic bottles get produced every year in the United States alone.
“And fewer than a third of those get recycled. And as it’s shown up in multiple independent audits, the biggest beverage companies in the world are also the biggest plastic polluters in the world.
“What inspired my cofounders and I, and by the way, most of us have environmental nonprofit backgrounds before founding Bevi. What inspired us was to really change the industry from the inside out and offer a much more environmentally friendly sustainable method of getting high-quality beverages.
“We didn’t want to make people have to sacrifice high-quality filtered water or have to sacrifice the flavor in sparkling drinks they like in order to be environmentally sustainable.”
Regarding the supply chain, Sean added:
“It’s actually a really bizarre supply chain today because we have tap water all around us that we could just filter but instead of filtering that and then mixing drinks at the point of use we instead mix drinks in a bottling plant, put those drinks in single-use disposable containers, and then waste a lot of fuel and a lot of money trucking them around to wherever they ultimately get consumed.
“That’s just an incredibly wasteful supply chain and Bevi’s purpose as an organization is to reinvent the beverage supply chain and to only ship non-water ingredients and to offer a really automated smooth and intuitive way to get all the drinks you want whenever you are in an environmentally sustainable method as possible.”
CT: Your mission is focused on sustainability by the glass. How is Bevi accomplishing this goal?
SG: “Our goal is to eliminate single-use bottles and cans and to do that we really need to offer a more compelling alternative. Our alternative today is a suite of machines. We have currently three different versions of our machines in the market but they all serve roughly the same function, which is to purify tap water and then let users dispense not only high-quality chilled and filtered water but also sparkling drinks, flavored water, vitamin-enhanced drinks, and a really increasing variety of options.
“And in addition to making those beverages available, we need to make them available at a very affordable price point and as conveniently as possible. And that’s essentially how we’re doing it. We’ve designed an internet-connected water machine that lets people very quickly, easily, and intuitively customize and dispense water.
“And what we’ve found is that in addition to saving people a lot of money that they would otherwise spend on bottles and cans, we also just make the experience fun and we give them drinks they enjoy. So that’s really how we’re competing with the bottled beverage industry today. It’s through a really simple but fun user experience and through creating high-quality drinks cost-effectively.”
CT: What is the price range for the Bevi Standup and Countertop dispensers?
SG: “We have two generations of our floor-standing machine which make up two of the products, and then one generation of the countertop machine.
“For context on our business model, we sell and lease machines exclusively to corporations. So we don’t yet have a product designed for consumers’ homes, but we do have products that are a good fit for a wide variety of commercial locations, from corporate offices to schools to gyms to amenity areas of residential apartment buildings.
“So, we’re a good fit for basically any location that has 20+ users on a daily basis. And that will cost those locations all in anywhere from about $300 a month to $600 a month inclusive of the machine, unlimited water and sparkling water, all of the flavored drinks, and also service and maintenance.
“What that comes down to typically in terms of cost per glass of water is less than half the cost of what you’d pay wholesale for a bottle or can. It typically will end up costing our customers roughly $0.20 per 12 oz serving of flavored or sparkling water. Whereas if you were to buy that wholesale, it would be close to $0.55, and if you were to buy that retail, it could be $1.50.”
CT: Does Bevi plan on offering a home unit and making its products more accessible to households?
SG: “We’re currently in a couple of hundred apartment complexes, but in communal areas like in the gym or in a lounge or in the lobby. And that’s been an exciting new market for us but a market that’s showing a lot of potential.
“We are exploring consumer products for the home as well. So it’s definitely something we’re considering. The market opportunity is really huge and most bottles and cans that get consumed in the US are purchased in retail environments like at supermarkets and consumed in the home. So, for the purpose of really achieving the mission and offering sustainable alternatives to single-use bottles everywhere, eventually we’ll want to have a home product.
“I’m just not sure if it will be in the very near term or in the long term.”
One last thought from Sean
“I would encourage people to check out our website and to recommend Bevi or at least recommend that their office or apartment complex take a look at Bevi. We have extremely high customer satisfaction scores and we have a really long track record of once a company gets one Bevi machine, they tend to order more and more and replace more of their beverages with Bevi natural alternatives.
“My recommendation to people is that they learn more about it and give it a shot and see they’ll like it.”