Liquid I.V.: Hydrating, Educating, & Inspiring the Global Community

Liquid I.V.

3. Good Health and Well-Being 6. Clean Water and Sanitation

Overview

Liquid I.V. is a health-science and wellness company “created to fuel life’s adventures,” according to the company website. The company’s product line boasts “great-tasting, non-GMO electrolyte drink mixes utilizing Cellular Transport Technology (CTT)® to enhance rapid absorption of water and other key ingredients into the bloodstream,” all of which aid consumers’ physical performance and overall health. Liquid I.V. products follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines for Oral Rehydration Solution, which is the most requested product during humanitarian crises and disaster recovery. Founded in 2012 by Brandin Cohen, the company has been a purpose-led business since its inception. Sustainability is at the core of Liquid I.V.’s three pillars: Product, People, and Planet. In 2015, Liquid I.V. marked its first giveback initiative with a small-but-mighty donation of 500 product servings to a homeless shelter in downtown Los Angeles. Since then, the company has donated more than 25 million servings globally. They expect to donate another 2.4 million servings in 2022 alone.

Author

Michelle McKenna

Michelle McKenna

School

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University

Professor

Jeff Thies

Jeff Thies

Innovation

Since 2018, Liquid I.V. has worked with Direct Relief, the largest humanitarian organization in the world, to provide much-needed hydration to those in need. “The partnership helped scale us globally in our giveback efforts,” says Sean Lavin, Vice President of Impact at Liquid I.V., “They’re an amazing resource to get hydration and our product to those in need when they need it most.” Liquid I.V. has played a significant role in disaster relief and community rebuilding, including donations to disadvantaged Haitians in 2016 and to refugees fleeing Ukraine in 2022. Liquid I.V.’s participation goes beyond donating its effective, hydration-boosting products. To support communities affected by such hardships, Liquid I.V. educates individuals on the power of hydration and overall good health.

Moreover, Liquid I.V.’s sincere passion for these initiatives attracts employees who are equally enthusiastic about making thoughtful, hands-on contributions. For example, in 2019, Liquid I.V. put together a team of medical professionals and employees and set out to Ghale Gaun, Nepal. The devastating 2015 earthquake had damaged roads to small communities like Ghale Gaun, effectively isolating them from traditional recovery efforts. Journeying to Ghale Gaun “was the first time we were able to leave the office in a way beyond just going down the street to a mission,” says Lavin, “We traveled to the other side of the world, literally on a mission trip.” The mission focused on rebuilding, educating, and providing medical care. Lavin describes the trip: “It was illuminating, it was eye-opening. It was transcending to realize that, when you actually go somewhere, you can help and see with your own eyes the changes that you can make. The power of a purpose-based business is that, while sometimes it doesn't seem like much, a little goes a long way. Think about even a small investment, or even your time.”

Investments in communities brought about one of the company’s largest and most meaningful—but somewhat accidental—giveback campaigns. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Liquid I.V. learned that many first responders were turning to Liquid I.V. for optimized hydration during physically and emotionally draining shifts in COVID hospital wards. “When we got word of that we said we can help. This is exactly what we can do. Instead of trying to sell it to them, we said let’s just give it to those people in need,” recalls Lavin, “But we didn’t know how big this would become.” The company encouraged front-line medical workers to direct message them on social media for free product. The posts effectively went viral; ultimately, within two and a half months, Liquid I.V. donated 2.3 million servings to healthcare workers across 1,800 different hospitals in the United States. As Lavin explains, “It just changed everything for us. It was a big moment that stands out to me because it just proved to us that purpose mattered more than anything else.”

Liquid I.V.: Hydrating, Educating, & Inspiring the Global Community

Inspiration

Liquid I.V.’s humanitarian work and strong push for sustainability are ingrained in its business model. “To me and to us, profit is a way that we were able to fund the most important thing, which was a product to help people and make sure that our sustainability managed the planet,” says Lavin. The founding members of Liquid I.V. were excited to build a company that could function as a philanthropic organization, in essence. “But we didn't know how to fund it. So, we said we can fund it by creating it as a business,” recounts Lavin. In terms of purpose-driven business, Lavin says, “It was very much in our hearts and DNA”—that was the strategy that made sense to the team. Liquid I.V. makes contributions to humanitarian recovery efforts “not for the sense of charity, but for the sense of giving a community a chance to rebuild itself,” asserts Lavin. Liquid I.V. believes in trust-based philanthropy, meaning “trust the community to know the answers; they know more than we will,” explains Lavin, “Start with them, give them what they need, and trust that they’ll know what to do.” Learning, supporting, and listening are key actions that inspire Liquid I.V.’s mission.

The company is also particularly inspired by the idea of “net positive,” an emerging theory that challenges businesses to give more than they take. Authors Andrew S. Winston and Paul Polman presented the idea in their book Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take, which Mike Keech, Liquid I.V.’s CEO, has encouraged employees to read. Conducting business that is truly net positive was a no-brainer for the Liquid I.V. team. It forced them to reflect on their operations and recognize that they have the power to affect thoughtful change. Practically speaking, integrating net positive behavior into businesses is not easy. As Lavin puts it, “For some people, it might not be worthwhile. We looked at it as a challenge that we're willing to accept.”

Above all, Liquid I.V. approaches sustainability and giveback with an opportunistic spirit—joyful and almost optimistic. “I don't believe it should be gloom and doom,” Lavin contends. Lavin also recognizes that, at present and continuing into the future, “there are jobs that will change the world” and “elevate opportunity through engagement.” Liquid I.V. is inspired by that potential; the company supports like-minded businesses and forward-thinking opportunities as much as they hope consumers support their own brand. As Lavin describes, “That creates a multiplier ripple effect, where they support us and we support others.” Of course, this cycle magnifies the reach and power of each connection. “It’s ‘do good,’ ‘keep doing good.’ I hope we create and continue to manifest that cycle,” Lavin expresses.



Overall impact

As Lavin describes, Liquid I.V.’s “impact as a brand has been to create awareness and inspire all those around us to care and nurture the planet, as well as those who inhabit it.” The company has seen growing interest in this, among employees, consumers, and the global community—particularly as Liquid I.V. continues to champion important global causes. Lavin says that both internal and external opportunities revealed to the Liquid I.V. team that they could “change the way we work and rephrase our model to be purveyors of good and act with purposeful intention.” Seeking out opportunities for sustainability is “truly part of everyone’s job.” Liquid I.V.’s moral compass guides its giveback campaigns and sustainability measures, which ultimately leaves an enduring impact on the planet and communities, while also proving that Liquid I.V. lives true to its mission.

Business benefit

Speaking on business as a force for good, Lavin advises that, rather than focusing on short-term goals or quarterly profitability, “focus on the long haul. Always be creative and supportive of your community in everything you do.” To Liquid I.V., conducting business with principle is not about the profit; it’s about engaging the consumer and creating an experience that is bigger than the product itself. “We aspire to inspire each other,” says Lavin, “If we’re able to inspire others to change their ways, then that ripple effect is worth everything that we’ve set out to do.”

Social and environmental benefit

Liquid I.V.’s products and operations have a tremendous, positive impact on humanity and the environment. Lavin describes, “The product lives up to its standards—it does save lives. Of course, we’re a commercial product here in the United States. But globally, it is used to save lives.” Liquid I.V. is not simply an electrolyte drink; it is thoroughly vetted and backed by science that follows the World Health Organization’s guidelines for Oral Rehydration Solution. “This has highlighted how important a science-backed product is,” says Lavin. In addition, Liquid I.V.’s partnership with Direct Relief elevated its mission to the global, humanitarian stage. The partnership has enabled Liquid I.V. to fulfill a worldwide need for optimized hydration, particularly during times of crisis. “Ultimately, we understand the power that we have to do really good things,” Lavin explains, “We’re taking it as a call to action.”

Interview

Sean Lavin, Vice President of Impact

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Liquid I.V.

Liquid I.V.

El Segundo, US

Business Website: https://www.liquid-iv.com

Year Founded: 2012

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Liquid I.V. is a health-science and wellness company “created to fuel life’s adventures." The company’s product line boasts “great-tasting, non-GMO electrolyte drink mixes utilizing Cellular Transport Technology (CTT)® to enhance rapid absorption of water and other key ingredients into the bloodstream,” all of which aid consumers’ physical performance and overall health. Liquid I.V. products follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines for Oral Rehydration Solution, which is the most requested product during humanitarian crises and disaster recovery. Founded in 2012 by Brandin Cohen, the company has been a purpose-led business since its inception. Sustainability is at the core of Liquid I.V.’s three pillars: Product, People, and Planet.