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FreeWater is a company that provides free drinking water to consumers funded by advertisements on the bottle. FreeWater donates a percentage of the money from the ads to help people in need. Currently, FreeWater donates 10 cents per beverage to Well Aware, an Austin-based nonprofit that builds water projects in underdeveloped areas.
FreeWater's model is a simple yet extremely effective way to help people who are not able to access clean water. The innovation is a bottle of water with an advertisement on it. Advertisers pay FreeWater for their ads on the bottle and that bottle is given away at no expense to the consumer. The advertising cost pays for everything.
What is so innovative about this product is that it is free to the consumer—hence the name of the company, FreeWater. Everyone deserves access to clean drinkable water and CEO Josh Cliffords is trying to make that a reality. As of now, FreeWater is donating 10 cents per bottle to help build water projects in underdeveloped areas. This directly correlates to #3 Good Health and #6 Clean Water and Sanitation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. If about 10% of the US population would drink FreeWater, then FreeWater could donate billions of dollars to end the global water crisis permanently. This can become a reality as FreeWater’s marketing team is doing very well, amassing almost 900,000 followers on TikTok alone with over 24 million likes. The videos show consumers reacting to getting free water. Many are surprised that this company is the first free beverage company and that the advertisements pay for everything.
The founder and CEO of FreeWater, Josh Cliffords was inspired with the idea of FreeWater after he created a non-profit organization in Eastern Europe to help refugees. Josh realized that about 20% of the refugees left their homes because they did not have any access to water, food, or medicine. According to Albert, “Josh wanted to create an out-of-the-box solution that made donating to charity and saving a life as easy as saving money on something that people buy every day. One day he had purchased a 'boxed water is better' carton and realized that they were seriously underutilizing their packaging space. Josh also remembered that we've had the ability to print photorealistic images on cartons since the 80's (missing people on milk cartons) and did some research and discovered that printing capabilities had improved drastically.” Josh Cliffords also realized that people are able to connect to anything on the internet by using QR codes. You can track the engagement on the ads. This adds a digital form of advertisement to a physical advertisement.
Since FreeWater’s founding, the company has produced many positive short-term effects with its innovation, FreeWater considers themselves to be one of the most innovative products on the market due to the fact that they are the first “negatively priced consumer product.” They are able to make this claim as the water is not only free, but they also donate to charity with every bottle. They have also been able to create a large amount of awareness about the water crisis through their large social media following. This is evident not only through their over 1 million followers across major social media platforms, but also through their recognition by large media companies such as Forbes, Insider, Fox 7, and many more. While they have only been in operation for a little more than a year and a half they still have some long-term effects to boast about.
Although it is hard for a fairly new company to have serious long-term effects with their innovations, FreeWater managed to find a way. CEO Josh Cliffords created a model that would allow for long and sustainable growth. In fact, “after doing the math he calculated that we would need 10% of the US population to save money and drink FreeWater and we would be able to donate billions of dollars to end the global water crisis permanently. That is why we currently donate the 10 cents per beverage to 'Well Aware,' an Austin-based nonprofit that maintains a 100% success rate and a lifetime guarantee of building water projects in underdeveloped areas.”
However, that is not the only long-term effect that the company offers. The company uses sustainable and recycled materials for both its paper and aluminum bottles, making it more eco-friendly, especially compared to single-use plastic companies. “Our long-term goal is a free supermarket. Right now in the US, 30% of food is wasted and thrown in the garbage because it is too expensive and goes bad on the shelf. Free products would prevent this and new data sets will be able to help farmers and manufacturers produce the right amount of products rather than an excess that will be wasted.” So far, FreeWater was able to build two water projects in Kenya for communities that previously lacked access to clean water. Overall, FreeWater does a good job of creating short-term and long-term change.
This innovation benefits the business because it is making a profit on the bottle and donating to people in need at the same time without charging the consumer. FreeWater is making an estimated 25 cents per bottle while donating 10 cents. FreeWater currently has 14 employees. They have distributed a number of bottles in Texas and there is a viral video of the first person from Europe getting FreeWater. All of these videos lead to publicity for more consumers to know about the product. These potential consumers read the ads and FreeWater is able to get money from the ads to pay for the bottles, water, and donate—and the cycle continues.
The idea and execution of FreeWater have definitely opened a new kind of market. Since they donate 10 cents per bottle, FreeWater was able to build two water projects in Kenya for communities who previously lacked access to clean water. FreeWater continues to grow and help out so many people in need.
This innovation benefits society and the environment in a huge way. Firstly, their water bottles and cartons are free for the consumer. 800 million people lack access to safe drinking water. A little less than half of the global population, 3.6 billion people which is about 47%, live in areas that suffer from water scarcity for at least one month every year. Josh Cliffords wanted to provide a solution to provide free, clean water and build infrastructure for communities in water scarcity areas to obtain water. FreeWater donates to nonprofits that build water systems wells in Africa and Well Aware. "Well Aware is an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit organization that has a 100% success rate and has a lifetime guarantee of building water projects in underdeveloped areas." This innovation benefits society because water donations are going to people in need and in areas of scarcity. FreeWater manufactures and distributes the water locally and the product is also eco-friendly and BPA-free. With this, they can combat the major shortages of water, food, and medicine that are unfortunately plaguing people.
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Albert Prewitt, Managing Partner
FreeWater is a revolutionary physical and digital advertising platform that uses spring water as a new type of advertising with QR codes. FreeWater is eco-friendly and BPA-free. The water is free for consumers and it is funded by the ads printed on the cartons and aluminum bottles. FreeWater partners with Well Aware, a non-profit that helps provide clean water to underdeveloped areas, donating 10 cents per bottle.