A Bikram yoga class and a fresh coconut inspired H2coco founder David Freeman to make a life-changing decision and create a multi-million dollar business.
The young entrepreneur began his career in hospitality while studying architecture at university and by the time he was 21 he was an owner and part-owner of a number of venues. However, it was David’s decision to travel in 2008 that led to the birth of H2coco.
“After a hot Bikram yoga session I was given a fresh coconut by the teacher which went down a treat. The teacher explained the health benefits but said these words, “it’s just so hard to open.” That lightbulb moment was the catalyst to starting H2coco at a time when packaged coconut water didn’t exist in Australia or New Zealand,” David said.
Founded in 2010, H2coco was one of the first brands to introduce 100 per cent pure coconut water to Australia. Working alongside food scientists, David’s vision is to provide a healthier beverage alternative for every fridge and pantry. And with a health conscious population, the demand for healthier food and beverage options is growing. H2coco is now exported around the world to New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan, Korea and South Korea.
Over the next 12 months H2coco will launch four new products, including a new first-to-market product made from real bananas, as well as exploring new international market opportunities in the United States.
Dynamic Business had a chat with David about being named in the top 10, his top tips and what is new and exciting about H2coco.
How does it feel to be named one of Dynamic Business’s Top 10 Entrepreneurs?
I am honoured and humbled to be named as a Dynamic Business Top10 Entrepreneur – it is extremely satisfying to be recognised. This acknowledgement is a testament to the team I have supporting me and is a major morale booster to continue taking H2coco to the next level. I’m proud to have developed a company that is making strides in the ‘better for you’ category and extending it beyond coconut water. This recognition will assist us with our plans for further global expansion.
What are the top three lessons you’ve learnt so far?
1. A close mentor advised me a while ago to take funding only when you truly need it and I have applied this to the H2coco business – any profit is true profit that can be reinvested straight back into growth. We have been able to bootstrap the H2coco business since 2008, building the company organically off the back of our growing customer revenue and it is only now – 10 years on – that we are seeking venture capital to rapidly scale and expand globally.
2. Company culture is the ultimate ‘secret sauce’ to business success – team and workplace engagement is critical. Create an agile work environment and build a team of genuine, talented people that you trust. Be approachable as a leader and show you care about each individual’s unique experience inside the business. Embrace creative thoughts and ideas and allow your team to collaborate and thrive alongside you to truly enable them to perform at their peak.
3. Keep your mind open to new ideas and encourage innovation. In business and in life, the ‘sticking to what you know best’ approach is an old adage that hinders opportunity in today’s world. Unlock your limits to expand your scope and diversify – this will generate opportunities. Avoid having a narrow view so you can identify and take advantage of these opportunities. This will help you cut-through and lead you on the path to discovery, visionary and ultimately success.
What is new and exciting about H2coco?
Over the next 12 months we will be launching four new products into the market – we recently released Pure Pink Coconut Water which is naturally a sweeter, lighter more nutty version of our classic Pure Coconut Water. New options with added functionality are also to come for Pure Pink Coconut Water range, as well as a new first-to-market product made from real bananas, plus we will be introducing products into brand-new categories.
H2coco has successfully expanded into 7-Eleven stores within Australia and recently established high-potential strategic partnerships with community groups including Surfing NSW and the Cronulla Sharks Rugby League Club. We are now starting our move into new channels including food service – hotels, restaurants and cafes (HORECA), quick service restaurants (QSR) and schools, and looking into opportunities in pharmacy, as well as securing new major distributors.
What are you currently up to in your business?
We are planning to grow the H2coco business through continuous innovation, expanding to new channels, exploring new market opportunities and launching into more countries, and we are in the process of completing a round of external funding to scale the business.
We will also be participating in a few upcoming events to build further brand awareness and introduce H2coco to the US market. H2coco is a sponsor of this year’s Sydney Skinny, which is a supporter of The Charlie Teo Foundation, funding brain cancer research. This is a new strategic partnership and we will be supplying product to all participants to ensure they are hydrated, especially after their big swim.
H2coco will also be an exhibitor at the National Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, California USA, showcasing and sampling H2coco products to nearly 90,000 industry professionals. The event is designed to find the newest products and see the latest trends in health, beauty, organic, and natural and specialty foods, and this is an opportunity for us to reach the lucrative American market and implement our global growth strategy.