Every entrepreneur needs to know how to multi-task and 31-year-old Kris Ingham, founder of Rejuvenation Water, is proving it to me real-time. He interrupts his anecdote about being 'introduced' to amino acids (at a gym, by a personal trainer) to take a call from CrowdCube. The three-person team is launching a crowdfunding campaign this afternoon and Kris is tweaking the final details.
Kris and his team are trying to raise £150,000 in equity for the drinks brand, which sells spring water enriched with amino acids (and injected with some fruit juice for taste). The amino acids are the USP, Kris explains, as soon as he's put down the phone.
“Protein on its own is useless,” says Kris. “You need the right amino acids as the building blocks for absorbing them. They are helpful for your immune, digestive and central nervous system.”
In fact, that's been the biggest challenge for Kris; convincing people that it's not about protein, or vitamins, or electrolytes and “getting the message across” about the benefits of these tiny organic compounds, which are hugely important. They help you replace lost nutrients, repair tissue as well as doing a host of other things - including recovering from hangovers. If you drink a bottle of Rejuvenation Water before you go on a night out and one when you come home, Kris promises the next day will be less painful.
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After the initial introduction to amino acids while he was at university and getting “more serious about his health and diet”, Kris spent 10 years in finance as a trader. But it wasn't his “passion”. So he finally decided to commit to Rejuvenation Water after a soft launch in September 2015.
The brand is going from strength to strength. Kris raised the first round of funding in April 2016 from angel investors (and paid himself for the first time in a year) before moving in to Workspace’s Vox Studios shortly after. In the first year Kris successfully enticed 150 independent retailers on board and will be launching in Holland and Barrett and John Lewis very soon. He's going to be talking to Tesco next week.
It sounds simple, but the journey has had its twists and turns: “What can go wrong, will go wrong,” Kris admitted. Firstly, the science behind Rejuvenation Water is quite complex. “It's not something you can launch from your kitchen... I was going through consultants,” Kris said. Labeling has also been difficult; the value of amino acids has been researched in medical journals that are not approved by the European Union (EU). Then there was the scam in Spain (Kris laughs ruefully) and the formulation of the product also needed perfecting.
So why did he decide to crowdfund for a second time? “It's an opportunity to buy into the brand,” Kris explains. “We wanted to get as many people on the adventure as possible.” Everyone investing will get equity as well as the opportunity for rewards. If you invest more than £15,000 for example, you'll be whisked away to Valencia to find out where the blood orange that goes into the water is grown. He'll be pitching next week at The Ivy restaurant to a number of high-net-worth individuals to encourage them to get on board.
Kris went with CrowdCube as it's the biggest crowdfunding platform out there. For 7% of the amount raised, the opportunity to invest gets sent out to their 340,000 subscribers and they look after all the administration related to offering equity to hundreds of investors.
The process before the campaign is understandably intricate. Because it's now FCA regulated, everything has to be fully referenced and a lot of documentation has to be provided. Kris counts 130 documents so far which range from invoices from stockists and lists from distributors to utility bills for all the directors. He even had to prove somehow that he came up with the idea 10 years ago.
Otherwise marketing for the campaign is all down to the Rejuvenation Water team (so get ready for some amazing giveaways, breathtaking Instagram campaigns, and lots and lots of free samples). And funnily enough that's what they're going to be spending a lot of the money they raise on. Getting stocked in a big supermarket is the goal, but it doesn't necessarily mean you waltz off into the FTSE100 sunset. Making sure people buy the product on the shelves is the difficult part.
Kris has a handy tip when it comes to marketing. Even if you do have funding behind you, “operate like you have no money.” He adds that Twitter and Instagram have been great for fostering awareness and engagement even though it's difficult to measure the specific ROI.
Other developments include the possibility of moving to a bigger office space. At the moment, it's a question of how many Rejuvenation Water bottles can you fit into a three person office!
Kris initially chose Vox Studios because he lives around the corner and “it's superb value for what you get.”
It's been fruitful so far; they’re already stocked in Vox’s Livewire Cafe; they asked WebVid downstairs to film their crowdfunding campaign and handed out Rejuvenation Water at a Zumba lesson organised by the sportswear brand Ponto. So watch out Havelock Terrace, you may be getting a new resident soon.
They're also looking to export and Kris went on a UKTI trip to Germany in November. He says that he wasn't asked once about Brexit but rather they were more excited by the opportunities provided by the exchange rate now.
A break with the EU might mean he can write more convincingly about the benefits of amino acids on his drinks labels but the current limbo is unhelpful: “It needs to be sorted out. The lack of clarity is difficult,” Kris admits.
There are so many things going on that you can't help but wonder how Kris, his sales manager and his marketing manager fit it all in. “I drink two or three bottles of Rejuvenation Water a day,” he explains. “And I haven't been ill for four years.”
Rejuvenation Water are just one of the many businesses based at Vox Studios; a commercial property that’s undergone spectacular refurbishment, with over 65 new studios for New and Growing Companies. It boats abundant natural light and stunning city skyline views just 350 metres from Vauxhall tube station. If you’d like to arrange a viewing of our available units, please don’t hesitate to click here.
You can also find out more about Rejuvenation Water’s crowdfunding campaign here.