“Building this company and creating a global brand will cost you a lot — relationships, time, resources and many sleepless nights”. As all business owners/leaders can confirm, starting a company from nothing, growing it, building it and having it thrive will cost you a good deal, so make sure you are 100% committed to that cost before jumping in with both feet (thankfully, I am and have loved the journey thus far, including ups and the downs).
Aspart of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Blair Bentham, CEO of OXIGEN. OXIGEN is pH balanced water with electrolytes and boosted with oxygen — all to help you recover + rise. And unlike most bottled waters that are “recyclable,” OXIGEN is made from 100% recycled plastic — healthy for body and planet.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Blair! What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?
OXIGEN is on a mission to help people Recover + Rise. We’re all being asked to get more out of each day, and drinking more water is an easy, healthy way to do that. However, OXIGEN takes functional water to the next level by boosting it with oxygen and electrolytes. Our proprietary process keeps oxygen stable in liquid, remaining bio-available up to 24 months from production. Oxygen is central to many health benefits, and OXIGEN is leading way to faster recovery. With that, Recover + Rise isn’t just a saying, it’s a lifestyle. It’s motivation for all of us to achieve our goals and create a community that empowers one another to rise to the many social and public health challenges we’re facing. More than ever, we need inspiration and a hopeful message — to take care of ourselves, and each other. We also want to help our planet by using 100% recycled plastic, so we’re not introducing any new plastic into the environment.
Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address sustainability? Can you give an example?
Did you know globally that only 9% of plastic gets recycled? OXIGEN was one of the very first national brands to use 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, or rPET. While plenty of brands are technically ‘recyclable,’ we know that a lot of plastic still ends up in landfills. While there’s a strong consumer preference for plastic bottles, we think the only way to provide them sustainably is to use plastic that’s already been recycled.
Additionally, OXIGEN bottles are 100% blown on site, so they require less transportation to reduce their carbon footprint even further. Our aim is to create a closed loop system, so that no plastic bottle ever enters the environment, and rather re-enters the supply stream to become a new source of rPET.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
Creating a vertically integrated supply chain with sustainability as a major requirement results in cost savings too. We’re reducing our transport costs and reducing time to our retailers and business partners. People care about what they consume, and we want them to know we share their values, so they ultimately become advocates for the brand for the right reasons.
In your opinion what are a few things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please include an example for each
Climate change and environmental concerns are problems that can seem so massive that they become abstract, especially for children. But when you can act locally and see the tangible fruits of your efforts, or you vote with your pocketbook and buy a brand that’s committed to sustainability, I think you can help make both the problem and the potential solutions more real.
Example: Start small when kids are young. They often engage in eco-friendly activities at school, which is the perfect time to explain the importance of these activities for not only the planet, but for themselves.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. “Building this company and creating a global brand will cost you a lot — relationships, time, resources and many sleepless nights”. As all business owners/leaders can confirm, starting a company from nothing, growing it, building it and having it thrive will cost you a good deal, so make sure you are 100% committed to that cost before jumping in with both feet (thankfully, I am and have loved the journey thus far, including ups and the downs).
2. “You’ll succeed or fail based on the team you build around you”. In starting a company, sometimes you must start with what you have in the immediate. However, in looking back I would have preferred, in some cases, to have waited on moving forward aggressively, until I had the right people in the right positions in the company.
3. “However, much money you think you need to raise to grow and build this company, double it”. Self-explanatory.
4. “Surround yourself with wise, successful advisors as quickly as possible, so you can learn from their successes and failures, and therefore risk and be nimble, but ideally avoid the biggest pitfalls that are non-recoverable”. I have had the good favor of having a very engaged advisory board that has brought immense wisdom and insight through the early stages and hyper-growth of building a fast-paced beverage company. Gleaning from their collective experiences has allowed us to avoid pitfalls and attain significant success in a short period of time.
5. “Don’t be afraid to take risks and know that you will fail along the way. The key is to win more often than you fail, but winning requires failure, or you’re not risking enough to be successful.” I learned early on that being indecisive was sometimes more challenging than making decisions, even if they were ultimately the wrong ones. Failure is a great teacher but be sure you ideally learn the lessons the first time, all the while, leaning into your team and advisors to grow beyond those failures to ultimately reach success.
Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
From “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy:
“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy. “Help”, said the horse.
I have had the good fortune of having an exceptional and incredibly talented management team and group of advisors around me. I pride myself on not being the smartest guy in the room. So, asking for help, learning and growing have assisted me in building an even stronger team, growing a brand and building a company that is shaking up the beverage industry. Building an incredible brand is an immense team effort by every member of the team, so asking for help, seeking advice and ensuring that the accolades and wins are celebrated by the whole team is imperative for the brand to win and have staying power.