The AguaSAC Pouch: A “Green” Alternative To Plastic Bottles

Written by on April 29, 2014 in Startups - No comments
AguaSAC pouch

Many entrepreneurs come up with a new business to solve a problem.

Local startup, AguaSAC, was created 18 months ago by founder Liesl Kielp who had great disdain for plastic water bottles. She was determined to develop an alternative to plastic water bottles, so she came up with the water pouch. It’s very flexible, reusable and has the ability to contain hot or cold liquids, pureed veggies, and it can even be frozen.

There are so many uses for the AguaSAC that the water bottle just doesn’t offer and it’s safe to reuse the AguaSAC pouch over and over again.

We spoke to CEO Gary Hickel to find out more about AguaSAC, its history, future plans and how other businesses can use their product as an effective marketing tool with custom labels.

Gary Hickel

Gary Hickel, CEO of AguaSAC

Gary and Liesl met in a CEO Forum after Gary had retired from banking in 2012. Liesl reached out and asked him to come on board as their CEO, and after enjoying retirement for a few more months, he worked as a consultant and introduced the new product to his corporate contacts. The receptivity was high, people loved the pouch and Gary agreed to become co-owner and CEO of AguaSAC.

Q: How and when did AguaSAC get started?
A: The founder, Liesl Kielp, spent 18 months developing the container/pouch, and AguaSAC was launched in Feb 2013.

Q: Can you tell us more about the product?
A: The AguaSAC is unique for many reasons. Upon opening, the pouch contains Purely Sedona Natural Artesian Spring Water. Once the water has been consumed, the pouch can also be reused and easily cleaned with hot water, it can be recycled, it’s a cool item to hold and look at and it’s safe to use without running the risk of toxins tainting the pouches’ contents.

Q: Who are the founders of AguaSAC? We met Liesl as a SEED SPOT venture last year. What is her role and how did you get involved?
A: Liesl is the Founder. She reached out to me last year and asked if I would come on as their CEO, which I did, after being a consultant for the company until early this year.

Q: We like the mission behind the company- employing adults with disabilities. Can you tell us how this connection came about?
A: Liesl and my passion since we both have adults with disabilities in our lives. Our primary mission is job creation for adults with special needs. We have a partnership with Valley Life, a non-profit that provides training and employment facilities for adults with special needs. For many of these adults, this is the first time they have had a job, a sense of sense worth and have spending money to use on their own.

Q: How many people does AguaSAC employ currently?
A: We are the only direct employees; we have 23 special need adults employed through our non-profit partner, Valley Life.

Liesl Kielp

Liesl Kielp at SEED SPOT DEMO DAY

Q: How did the incubator, SEED SPOT, help your company? What was the most valuable aspect of their program?
A: Initial exposure within the social entrepreneur market; for Liesl, who participated, knowledge and training in the many facets of business.

Q: What are your needs as a startup?
A: Always more capital and sustainable sales.

Q: Have you tried a crowd-funding campaign or attended a live pitch investor panel?
A: We are aware of the options, but no.

Q: What type of access does your company have to the natural spring in Sedona? Will it be accessible for years to come or will you need to change water sources at some point?
A: The protected springs are owned by our bottling partner, Sedona Springs. Do not foresee any reason to change as long as we have them as our bottler.

AguaSAC pouches at the StartLine Race

AguaSAC pouches at the StartLine Race

Q: Have you taken any investments up to this point?
A: No, we have been all internally funded.

Q: What have you learned as a startup? What advice can you offer new entrepreneurs?
A: Seek out strategic partners as part of your advisory team; divide revenue expectations by 3 and multiply expenses by 2. Capital—capital–capital!

Q: Have you owned any other small businesses or startups in the past?
A: I have started and funded through local investors two startup banks and a third bank conversion.

StartLine Racing Marathon and AguaSAC

AguaSAC hydrating the runners at the StartLine Racing Marathon

Q: How can other businesses use your product as a marketing tool?
A: Our pouches can be customized with a company or event logo for branding for your business. We recently agreed to sponsor the StartLine Racing Going the Distance Marathon and each competitor was handed an AguaSAC pouch upon crossing the finish line. It was a cool way to hydrate the runners and advertise for the race company at the same time. Many of them commented about how they liked the different water pouch. We would love to have companies and events everywhere have orders of AguaSAC pouches. If you are interested, contact Gary today!

Visit the AguaSAC website, for more information: www.aguasac.com.

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