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“In a startup, momentum is key” With PathWater CEO Shadi Bakour

MOMENTUM is Key. There is an unspoken force of life called MOMENTUM. First, build a track record by building something big, and building something fast. You may not always make the best deal or have the highest ROI, but focus on gaining forward momentum and excitement around what you are doing. Once you have a […]


MOMENTUM is Key. There is an unspoken force of life called MOMENTUM. First, build a track record by building something big, and building something fast. You may not always make the best deal or have the highest ROI, but focus on gaining forward momentum and excitement around what you are doing. Once you have a track record, it will be much easier to build another business, and another business, and another business.


I had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO of PathWater, Shadi Bakour. Shadi is leading a revolutionary business that’s on a mission to save the planet from plastic bottles. PathWater is disrupting bottled water industry as a leader in sustainability and innovation.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I am humbled to share my story and hopefully inspire others to follow their passion, do something great, and to pay it forward.

I am the son of immigrant parents that pushed me really hard as a kid. I was able to complete AP Calculus before high school, and learned to be competitive as an athlete playing every sport: soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, competitive swimming, hockey, fencing, sailing, track and cross country.

For high school, I got a full scholarship to a military boarding school in Indiana, Culver Academies — university, I studied finance and economics at George Washington University.

I’ve always been fascinated by business, finance, and entrepreneurship. As an innovator in my field, I love to solve problems and to do things differently than what’s considered traditional or the status quo. I believe hard work, determination, and persistence are key ingredients to the success of every entrepreneur.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Our first production of 10,000 bottles of water tasted like tea!! The only facility that could produce our product was a small juice manufacturer, and no matter how much we cleaned the machines, it still had a little aftertaste. It was completely safe to drink, so we ended up donating them to the local food bank. That was a HUGE learning lesson for us!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are some of the most determined group of people you will ever meet. We started without any money, connections, resources, or industry knowledge and have built a massive brand and powerful network of investors (PE & VC, celebrities and athletes), distributors, suppliers, and customers.

But really what makes our company stand out is that we are a group of people that are dedicated to a mission to save the planet. We are not driven by profits — of course as a business, we have to make money, but it is only a means for us to make a huge impact on the planet.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

The best thing you can do to motivate your employees is to GROW YOUR BUSINESS. Share your vision with your team and inspire them to grow and be part of something larger than themselves.

We’ve been so fortunate to have a team that’s motivated by our cause and fully committed to our mission. Focus on this; and as you grow, you’ll attract great employees and great partners.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

I’m so thankful for my co-founders — Amer, Ali, Harry, and Gulshan. They put their blood, sweat, and tears into this company and I can’t thank them enough for their dedication to make a real change in this world.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

PathWater is a high impact brand that’s battling the plastic pollution crisis and changing consumer behavior. On a deeper level, though, the work we do goes way beyond just our products. PathWater is on a mission to educate the world on how we can all live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Get Ready To Make Sacrifices, But Know It’ll All Be Worth It

If you succeed, your life will be consumed by your business. You’ll have to make sacrifices with family, friends, the gym — heck, you’ll barely have time to go to the bathroom. Just Kidding.

The reality is that your business, especially in the early stages, is like a newborn baby. It requires your attention; except as an entrepreneur and business owner, you can’t hire a babysitter. But in putting in all of that energy — the lessons that you will learn about business, relationships, and life, make it worth every second — everything you missed, every night you lost sleep, won’t seem so bad at all.

2. You Can’t Do It Alone.

Open your arms wide and embrace the talents and resources of others. If people are invested in your dream, they will help you get to where you need to go. We’ve partnered with the best manufacturers, distributors, brokers, and professionals that’ve been vital to the rapid growth of our business.

3. You Don’t Know What’s Going To Happen

Entrepreneurship is like walking down a dark path. You can see only 10 steps ahead of you — and you have to have courage and faith that you will continue to walk down the path and figure out the way as you go.

4. It’s a Long Game

Yes, your idea might be the next “Facebook,” but trying to get rich quick is always too good to be true. Hard work over a long period of time — whether that’s 5,15, or 50 years, is the way to ensure success. If you want to be an entrepreneur, start by knowing that you are in this for the long haul.

5. MOMENTUM is Key

There is an unspoken force of life called MOMENTUM. First, build a track record by building something big, and building something fast. You may not always make the best deal or have the highest ROI, but focus on gaining forward momentum and excitement around what you are doing. Once you have a track record, it will be much easier to build another business, and another business, and another business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“In retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” — Sigmund Freud

I welcome struggle with open arms; because through struggle, hardship, trials and tribulations, we truly appreciate our success.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

I’d love to have the opportunity to meet with Elon Musk. The tesla factory is literally down the street from us in Fremont. Tesla is an example of an innovative brand that is creating a more sustainable planet. I’d love to sit with Elon and tell him about how PathWater is making a change in the world.

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Courtesy of Chris Weeks / Getty Images
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