The food tech startup scene keeps growing and the Exception Magazine will document the key players shaping the future.
First up, we profile Sway Water. This startup is on a mission to make healthy beverages available to all.
Here is our interview with Sway Water’s CEO Albert Swantner.
Paul Westbrook, Kate Herling, Albert Swantner
Investors and total raised
Ana and Alejandro Ruelas, Pedro Kaufmann
The Exception Interview
How would you describe your company and its product to someone who has never heard of it?
We make a still and sparkling water with real ingredients. No sugar, preservatives or ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
How did you come up with the idea for your company? How did you validate the concept early on?
The idea was born from my honeymoon. We had some cucumber water that was so refreshing and then we came back to the US and couldn’t find anything close to this. Everything was super sweet or was made with extracts and so we set out to make something different.
We validated this concept by doing farmer’s markets and small accounts in Austin until we proved that we had something people wanted.
What does your ideal customer look like?
Our ideal customer is the average person. As broad trends are moving towards healthier beverages overall and clean labels, we are on top of that trend with something that is organic, healthy, and affordable, not just catered towards people with lots of disposable income.
Where would you like to see your company in 5 years?
We want to be the dominant player in flavored still and sparkling waters. And to have proven that people prefer real ingredients to using chemicals, powders and sweeteners.
What broader trends are driving interest in the food tech sector?
People are becoming generally more concerned about what is going into their bodies. You can see consumers at the convenience store reading nutrition labels which is something that didn’t happen just a few years ago. The planet is also starting to bust at the seams and feeding the entire planet without destroying it is becoming more and more of a challenge. So innovation in this space is needed.
What excites you personally about working in food tech?
Personally, I am excited to be driving the trend towards using whole ingredients and less artificial items in food, getting people to live a healthier life.
Do you believe your city and state supports its food tech startups?
Austin has been the perfect place to launch a new food product. There is a vibrant community that supports innovation and an overall commitment to healthy, organic foods and beverages.
What other companies or founders do you follow for inspiration or advice?
We have a very strong community in Austin that we follow who are happy to give help and advice. They include Clayton Christopher from Sweet Leaf Tea, Scott Jensen from Rhythm Superfoods, Dan Costello from Beanitos, among others.
What words of wisdom would you like to share with the next generation of food tech CEOs?
Find cofounders and a team that believe in your company as much as you do and are willing to put in the hard work to make it happen. This is too hard to do alone.
Photo courtesy of Sway Water
Email editor [at] exceptionmag.com if you operate a food tech startup and would like to be profiled.