Interview With Josh Cliffords
Describe your product or service:
“Our startup launched what will evolve into the world's first free supermarket and our first product is free natural spring water in aluminum bottles and paper cartons and our water is free because the packaging is ad space. Most importantly, ten cents from each beverage is donated to water well charities. When only 10% of Americans choose FreeWater we will end the global water crisis permanently!”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We believe that water, food, medicine, and more are basic human rights and they should be freely accessible in the most Eco-friendly manner possible. Free supermarkets will cut USA food waste by 30% and each free product will donate to different charitable causes which makes changing the world as easy as saving money on your groceries.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“Self-funded/raised $270k since September 2021”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them!
“10 - We have a mixture of full time and part time. Every role from PR, software developers, business dev, design and more.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“Back in 2015, my wife and I started a nonprofit organization to help refugees in Europe. After helping thousands of people we wanted to create a new system that made saving lives or the environment as simple as eating free food or drinking free water.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I've always been an entrepreneur since I turned a free lemonade stand into a $36,000 investment into Microsoft at the age of ten.”
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?
“I couldn't use a computer or type. I have Dyslexia so reading anything long can be very difficult for me. I pretty much started from zero on this project.”
Feeling inspired? Learn how to launch your company with our guide on how to start a startup.
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Our product is a blank canvas so we have many different verticals/use cases. TikTok was very helpful as we have roughly 400k followers who act as an extended team for us.”
What's your primary marketing strategy?
“Advertisers pay us to giveaway FreeWater. We post that on TikTok and those videos are seen by more people who want FreeWater, to invest, or advertise.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We haven't hit our 100th customer yet but we will get there next year when we distribute our 1,000,000th FreeWater.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“We offer many different marketing options and for some of those we have zero competition so it's more about focusing on adding value to the customer/solving the pain point that is most meaningful to them. If it is in a situation where we are competing with other ad mediums we aim to give higher quality impressions and unrivaled brand loyalty.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“I have never read a book end to end other than books that we read out loud in school. My favorite podcast is the Joe Rogan podcast due to the variety of participants.”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“Lots of classical music and Steve Jobs motivational tapes.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“That anything really is possible.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I don't have any. If I needed that I wouldn't have ever started this project.”
When did you know it was time to quit your day job to focus on your startup?
“I was living abroad / traveling the world when I invented all these concepts and didn't move back to the states until I felt that I was ready and had already worked out any possibility of this not working.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“I was a personal trainer and owned my own private gym in Los Angeles. I helped me to learn to communicate with different types of people from all walks of life and to motivate them to be the best person they could be.”
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FreeWater aims to solve the world’s water and food crises for a fraction of what it would cost governments or nongovernmental organizations to do.