The Origin Story of Cactus Water Startup Caliwater

Caliwater products.

You’ve probably tried or at least heard of coconut water, known for its hydrating abilities and refreshing taste. But, there is another type of water on the market that might give coconut water a run for its money — cactus water. Specifically, Caliwater, a brand founded by actress Vanessa Hudgens and Oliver Trevena in 2015. Here is how the High School Musical Star co-launched a successful beverage startup and introduced a new kind of wellness drink.

‘Desert Discovered’

Caliwater is a Los Angeles-based startup that crafts outrageously tasty wellness drinks from a lesser-known superfruit — prickly pear. Packed with antioxidants, the prickly pear boasts all 24 known betalains as well as five naturally occurring electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals and contains less sugar than coconut or aloe water. To ensure the ethical nature of the product, Caliwater also sustainably produces its cactus water through direct relationships with the farms. 

Packaged in cans (formerly Tetra Prisma Aseptic Packages) complete with history and information about the origins of the beverage, including its ancient health benefits, Caliwater as a brand is determined to honor the phrase that started the brand “Desert Discovered.”

However, it took a rebrand to get there. Originally packaged in plastic bottles, the brand was extremely limited in terms of the quality they were able to achieve which meant the original product was a from-concentrate beverage. The first step toward achieving the brand’s ideal product and image was to change the packaging, allowing the cactus water to transition to a fresher, certified non-GMO, and not-from-concentrate beverage that would appeal to a more health-centric audience — without sacrificing its appeal to consumers on the go.

Fighting Dehydration and Hunger

Caliwater’s goals don’t end with crafting a sellable, healthy beverage. The startup also works with No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit that works to fight against childhood hunger. Five cents from each can of Caliwater cactus water sold is donated to the organization with a goal of $1 million donated by April of 2022. The funds are then used to support millions of children suffering from hunger with access to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Recommended: Check out our full list of the hottest startups to watch in 2024

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