New Solutions Become New Products
One day, I looked at the bowl of fruit on the counter and found my answer. I grabbed a lemon, cut it up and put a few slices in a pitcher of water. Over the next week, I rotated through various fruits, putting a few slices in water or smashing up a berry and letting it sit in the fridge overnight. The infusion of fruit flavor made it much easier to drink my eight glasses of water a day.
I kept pitchers of our fruit-infused water in the fridge and offered it to any guests – adults and kids alike – whoever came by. I remember one mom in particular who called to ask where she could buy “the raspberry water her daughter had liked at our house.” She told me she had looked in all the stores for it and had bought every raspberry-flavored water brand she could find. But with every one of them, her daughter would take a sip, wrinkle up her nose, and say, “Nope, that’s not it.”
I laughed and told her it wasn’t from the store. “I make it at home.”
“Oh. How much sugar do you add?”
She couldn’t believe it. “That’s weird. My daughter only likes sweet drinks.”
Soon after, when I was shopping at Whole Foods, I took a detour through the water aisle. There were lots of different types of water, from plain spring water to vitamin waters. There were some flavored seltzer waters, but they were all made with artificial fruit flavors and most contained sodium. The vitamin waters also had preservatives and a lot of sugar. (No diet vitamin waters were available then.)
I approached a Whole Foods clerk who was stocking the aisle. “Do you sell a water with real fruit, no sugar, and no sweeteners of any kind?”
The guy hesitated, then pulled a vitamin water off the shelf. We looked at the label together. Water, vitamins, cane sugar, crystalline fructose. No real fruit. Lots of added sugar. We looked at a number of the carbonated seltzers with fruit flavoring. One popular orange-flavored brand had thirty-two grams of sugar and the flavor came from orange juice concentrate. The rest of the aisle was filled with many different brands of unflavored still and sparkling water.
There was nothing like my homemade, sweetener-free, fruit-infused water. My question just popped out. “If I develop a water that’s flavored with real fruit and has no sweeteners, would you stock it?”
The Whole Foods guy couldn’t tell if I was serious. He had no idea who I was. He looked at me, thought about it for a couple seconds, and shrugged. “Sure. Why not? We could give it a try.”
I went home and kept thinking about my conversation in Whole Foods. My homemade drink, containing only water, fruit, and no sweeteners had solved a health problem for me. I increased my energy, improved my mood, cleared up my skin, and lost fifty pounds. Plus, I liked the taste, which is more than I could say for plain water – and plenty of other people liked it, too.
It kept growing from there. I was working out at the local health club regularly and would fill my water bottle with my fruit-infused drink. One day, after my workout, a gym friend asked what I was drinking.
“Really? Where do you buy that?”
“I don’t buy it.” I laughed. “I make it.”
My friend looked intrigued and that was another aha moment for me.
People should be able to buy something like this, I thought. Could this be an idea for a product? Would people actually buy it?
I knew nothing about producing a beverage for sale, but I did have a deep feeling that I could develop something healthy and positive and that there was nothing else quite like it currently available.
This might be the opportunity to make a difference in the world that I’ve been searching for. I could help make people healthier and feel better.
That kind of feeling doesn’t come along very often.
When it does, I decided, you should not ignore it.
You may be looking at a new path forward.