Vista Drinks co-founder Scott Day, 26, talks starting a drinks business with his schoolmates and competing with Coca-Cola, despite having no FMCG experience.
What does your business do?
Vista Drinks is a flavoured sparkling water that has just come to the market after launching about eight months ago now. We are the healthiest fizzy option out there and we've come up with a formula that's relatively easy but keeps a good taste. The drink was developed about two years ago by me and the other founders, Adam Sorensen and Russell Hopper.
What was the motivation for starting it?
All three of us have always drunk sparkling water. I used to get sparkling water and cut up fruit and I'd squeeze the fruit juice in there and there was nothing on the market that wasn't full of artificial sweeteners or sugar so we were talking about that and thought there must be a way to package an alternative.
We got hold of a food scientist and had long discussions with him about what we wanted.
They kept coming back having put in sweeteners and artificial sweeteners and we said we didn't want that and that we wanted something really clean. We wanted to create something people could have two or three cans of without worrying what it's doing to their body.
It took a long time because everyone wanted to make it sweet and so it was a drawn out process, between nine months and a year to get it right.
What products are you currently selling?
We've got feijoa, berry and lemon, three flavours at the moment. We went for the feijoa because we're three young Kiwi guys who have grown up in New Zealand summers and we all love feijoas, and that's definitely our best-seller. We're working on a few more flavours to hopefully bring out this summer.
Currently, we're stocked in Progressive and Foodstuffs supermarkets. Progressive was the first to give us a shot back in November. We sell our eight-packs for $11.49 and the single cans for $1.99. The biggest thing for us was keeping competitive with Coca-Cola. We've had to take a little bit of a hit from that. Trying to get people to switch over to a healthy product is quite hard as it is but we wanted to be able to supply a healthy product they aren't paying a premium for.
What's it like being up against industry giant Coca-Cola?
To be honest it's quite good fun. We don't have much interaction or anything like that and because we're not really a soda we don't have to fight for shelf space with them. It's really not as competitive as what I thought it would be.
Water is the biggest-selling drinks category, what's the potential for this space?
The water category as a whole is growing, especially the sole can packaging types, so I think we've come in at the right time with a growing product, which has made things a bit easier with stocking negotiations. The sparkling water category is growing at 16 per cent per year so there's lots of potential for us.
How many cans of drink have you sold since November?
We're in 20 Countdown stores and 40 Foodstuffs stores and each week we get a couple more, but at the moment, we've sold almost 150,000 cans.
What are your long term plans?
We're looking to launch into Australia, we've started communications with distributors already, meetings for that are in November and hoping to be on-shelf there in February. We also have a couple of other drink products in the pipeline.
Our goal is to give people something healthy, build a brand people can trust and when they see their brand don't need to read the label because they know it's something that's not going to affect them in any nasty way. We also want to reduce the waste in the environment and do our bit to help the planet.
What advice do you give to those thinking about starting their own business?
If you've got an idea, you've just got to get in there and do it. Knuckle down and see if you can make it work. Surround yourself with like-minded people.