If you’re anything like me, coffee and energy drinks provide you with the fuel you need to get through the day. It doesn’t occur to you that water would likely make a huge difference in how you are feeling, and you probably wouldn’t feel so sluggish and achy if you swapped your sugar-free crack-in-a-can for some good ol’ H20.
With so many choices on the market shelves, why settle for boring, tasteless water? Enter entrepreneur Vipe Desai who saw a void in the market for people needing more water in their lives (more specifically, their bodies). The trick was to offer water with a flavor people would actually crave that didn’t have a negative impact on their body with an over abundance of sugar and unnatural chemicals.
Desai created the perfect hydration mix that will get you drinking the water your body so desperately needs with quality ingredients that provide superior taste along with the minerals needed to function at your best. The icing on this company’s cake is its dedication to having the smallest carbon footprint possible, and Vipe’s personal story for his quest to create the perfect beverage and lifestyle brand. We’ll drink to that!
Marie Spada: How did you decide to create HDX Hydration Mix?
Vipe Desai: I would say it was built up over a course of 15 years. With owning a retail surf shop in Orange County, and all the things I learned being in retail and having a marketing agency, what I learned between those two careers was that I wanted to start my own product and business. However, I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to start: I didn’t want to do shoes, board shorts, sunglasses, or anything else like that, because my friends had already done that. It took me almost 15 or 20 years to get to that point where I knew what I wanted to do, and it was through all of these experiences that I came up with HDX. Two things affected me that led me to it: One, I was becoming a Type II Diabetic. I looked around and saw that there weren’t any beverages out there for people like me. There wasn’t anything that was healthy, tasted good, looked good, and wasn’t pharmaceutical looking. I wanted something that I could not only consume, but something everyone else could consume, as well something that would keep them away from becoming a diabetic. Why? Because everything was so sugary that was available. I also looked at it and saw that all these sugary beverages come in plastic bottles that get thrown away, and we’ve got a massive plastic pollution issue. For me, it was like I didn’t want to create something that’s healthy that ends up in a plastic bottle because that’s not really making things better. Instead, that’s just kicking the can into another corner and letting someone else deal with the problem. I challenged myself to look at my own behavior. I always use a reusable water bottle, put something in it for flavor, and I started thinking a powder was a category that no one really spent any time on. So, that’s where it came from, just my own habits of using a reusable bottle and wanting something that was cool, tasty, healthy, and environmentally-friendly to put in it.
MS: So you wanted something that wasn’t only healthy for you, but also the planet.
VD: Yeah! If people are doing something with their business ventures and products that is addressing an issue, I’m all for it. I’m not saying, ‘Oh, you’re not doing enough,’ it’s just that for me, doing one thing wasn’t enough. I felt like I could push myself a bit further and was really looking at the problems and reverse engineering a solution instead of just saying, ‘I’m going to attack this one issue and whatever impacts are going on with my product, I’ll just leave for someone else to tackle.’ It was about what I could do holistically through and through, because I’m a firm believer that responsibility starts with the brand. I don’t think it means that I should make something, and then once I hand it off to you, it’s your responsibility to recycle it or to know what you’re putting in your body and make sure you’re not throwing it away in improper places. For me, it was about how I could make a product that breaks that habit so you don’t have to make that choice. Let me make it easier for you to make better choices. When you use my product in a reusable bottle, it’s like you’re automatically doing the things that I’m trying to protect and fight for. It puts more responsibility on me and the brand rather than passing it off to the customer.
MS: That makes total sense. Even glass bottles would have a huge, negative impact.
VD: You’re totally right because I did think of that, too. I kept pushing myself to think about the impact of a glass bottle, and I looked and saw that we would have a carbon footprint issue. It would be a heavy product that needs to be transported, which would require a lot of gas, and then it would need to be refrigerated. That would use even more energy to keep it cool while it sat before someone bought it. I wanted to see what we could do to chip away at the waste, health issue, carbon footprint, and everything else. Are we really doing everything we can?
MS: How would you say HDX sets itself apart from other hydration mixes like Mio and Dasani?
VD: The first thing is that I consider HDX to be a lifestyle brand. I don’t really consider it a beverage mix or anything like that. We are a lifestyle brand; we fit into all lifestyles that are active, or even not active! Where I think the other companies probably come from is more of a consumer packaged good. It’s just about having something to drink. When you’re thirsty, you drink that, and that’s the whole relationship, which is totally fine. People like easy. I also look at quality ingredients. HDX isn’t full of sugar and carbs and calories, there’s no caffeine, so it took away the things that other brands use such as gimmicks. It’s like ‘hey, we already got rid of that stuff, and here’s why we want you to be part of our family.’ You like to surf? We like to surf. You like to run? We like to run. You like to go hiking? We like to go hiking, and here’s what we can do to make your experience with whatever you do more exciting and less impactful. We go wherever you go. You put is in your pocket and we’re there for you when you’re thirsty. We just want you to be active, and we want to be part of that. We don’t want to be a one sport or one lifestyle brand; all are welcome in our tribe.
MS: What ingredients do you put into the mix? I know it’s not an energy drink, so does what goes into the drink that provides you with energy-boosting benefits without it necessarily being an energy drink?
VD: It does, actually. It provides you with a natural energy. People don’t realize how important hydration is to the body; it is absolutely critical to our body. If our bodies are dehydrated in 1 to 2 percent increments — which most of us are because we are so busy and our dietary habits aren’t very good. Also, we don’t drink enough water or drink enough minerals and nutrients to replace what we lose so our blood gets thicker. When it gets thicker, it’s harder for it to move throughout the body, so that’s where you get the headaches and can’t concentrate, and you become sluggish. For us, when you naturally replace the fluid and the minerals, and nutrients like those found in our drink, your body is operating as it should be. It has the minerals, fluid, and nutrients to keep the blood flowing as it should be so you can move faster. AS a result, you aren’t getting headaches, and you aren’t sluggish. It’s a natural form of energy without caffeine or stimulants.
MS: I’m definitely guilty of feeling tired and just filling myself up with coffee and sugar-free energy drinks.
VD: What happens is all we are doing is creating a vicious cycle where we go from one sluggish moment to another, and in between, we are stimulating our bodies to keep us going. But once that wears off, we crash and get back into the cycle. Water is difficult, because for some people, it just doesn’t taste good.
MS: That’s my problem.
VD: It was my problem, too; I did not like drinking water. Even if I flavored it a little, that would help, and sure enough, when it tasted good, I would drink more. I hear that from people all the time who tell me, ‘Man, I added your mix and it tasted really good, and before I knew it, I finished 32 ounces of water, and usually I have trouble finishing just eight!’ It was great hearing how other people were enjoying our mix and how they were using it and customizing it for their preferences. I think everybody’s taste preferences are different. There isn’t a one-drink-fits-all. With our powder, what I love is it allows flexibility for everybody to customize their drink. If you add it to 16 ounces of water, you get a bolder flavor. If you add it to 32 ounces of water, it’s a little lighter. We have people who tell us they put one stick inside of a water jug and sip it all day for a little flavor and the nutrients. Other people, add it to less water for a stronger flavor.
MS: What changes have you noticed in yourself since beginning consistent consumption of HDX?
VD: I would say that I’m definitely drinking more fluids. I think with drinks that are pre-made, they taste a lot more syrupy and thicker, because there are more flavors and ingredients with water mixed in. Water is the second ingredient, so to speak. With our product, the water is the first ingredient, and the mix is the second. The result? It tastes like flavored water as opposed to a drink with syrup mixed in. So for me, it has helped me to drink a lot more water and I feel better. I’ve never had an issue with energy and I don’t drink coffee, so that was never a problem for me. For me, it was just managing my diet and sugar intake, so I’ve noticed that the way that I use it allows me to manage my blood sugar throughout the day. I don’t get those spikes; it keeps me level throughout the day. I don’t have to worry about what I drink affecting my blood sugar. I just feel good whenever I wake up now and during the day, and when I go to bed, because it’s what I drink all the time.
MS: That must be a huge relief to you to not have to worry about your blood sugar with this drink.
VD: It really is. If you’re a diabetic, and obviously Type I and Type II have different needs, but for me, managing my blood sugar is important. It’s keeping me from getting worse and I know what I eat affects my blood sugar. With HDX, it helps me to stay normal and even throughout the day rather than going through ups and downs trying to supplement in between. I don’t get too high and have to figure out how to get it lower and vice versa. Eating and drinking properly throughout the day is what helps me, and with HDX there, it makes it easier because I don’t have to try and rely on just water, or some other beverage that I’m not totally sold on.
MS: What has been your biggest surprise since launching this product?
VD: My biggest surprise has been what I hear from other people. What I thought HDX was going to be and how people were going to enjoy it and get drawn into the brand was different from what people tell me, to a certain degree. People love the product, and they love the taste, but when they say they love the logo and that’s what attracted them to it and made them say, ‘What is that? That looks cool’ and all of a sudden they read about it, try it, and like it. Then they dig deeper and find my story about why I started HDX, and our values about the environment and health, and all of a sudden people are like, ‘I love your story, I love your brand, and I love your values.’ It’s so weird to me that that’s why people are telling me they love the product. It’s one thing when people say, ‘I love the product, and I love the taste’ and that’s it. There are so many things about our brand that people love, which is great because there’s not just one thing that people love us for. They love what we are doing.
MS: That’s true. When I first heard about your product, I thought it was really cool. But your story is what really made me interested. It gives you more of a reason to believe in the product.
VD: I was just trying to be honest and transparent; it wasn’t just us trying to hook people into our products. It’s just who we are and in some cases, I think it actually has turned people off. They’re like, ‘Oh those guys are just hippies, whatever’ and that’s fine, too. But I felt like we had to be honest with people and let them know everything about us and let them decide whether or not they wanted to support us and be part of our program.
MS: What are your hopes for the future of HDX?
VD: I’m happy with what’s going on! We’re growing because people are finding our product. We’re not having to try and go out and sell it. People who try the product are telling their friends, and I want to keep that momentum going where people are sharing with their friends and they’re telling us what they think about our product. I don’t want to go out and say, ‘Hey, buy our product.’ I want other people to say, ‘You’ve got to try this product!’ I want to continue expanding the brand however we can while doing something fun and cool that people haven’t seen before. Right now, we have a great product, a great story, and we’re doing all the things that people are wanting from their favorite brands. For us, all this comes naturally, and we have an opportunity to work with some guys that have opened up gyms in Orange County. We have three gyms named after our brand. If you break it down, we are a beverage company, though I think of us as a lifestyle brand, and you wouldn’t really think of a beverage company having a gym. It’s a great fit for us, it’s exciting. We have a community of people who are health and fitness minded who love our product. But they also love our gyms and the communities we are building. We’ve been approached by a handful of people who want to license our name and logo to create athletic apparel. It’s interesting to see that what we are doing is getting other people to think, and want to become part of our tribe. It’s helped us to grow in other ways. It’s exciting to look at those other opportunities, and when other people tell us what they see in us and how they want to get involved, that’s what I’m waiting for and listening for.
MS: Where are the three gyms?
VD: We are in Signal Hill in Long Beach, Huntington Beach, and Santa Ana.
MS: Where can we get HDX?
VD: We’ve shifted our focus to be an e-commerce brand. Retail has been a little challenging just because of what’s going on in retail as a whole, so we’ve started to focus on e-commerce. People were coming to us saying they couldn’t find our product and they wanted to try it, so we put more effort into that. Now people are buying our products all across the country, and even around the world. Our website is definitely the best place to go. We’re also working with Amazon, and our gyms carry the product.
VD: For me, this has been super fun and exciting to hear other people’s success in using our product. It’s not just like, ‘OK great, they’re drinking it.’ I love when people call, e-mail, or pull me aside and tell me their story and what they love about our product. It gets me super charged up. These are people who have become evangelists for us. They are telling me in detail what they love about the product, and I’m just like, wow. It all started with this one little product. The stories and e-mails I get are incredible. We started one idea on our website because one of our customers came to us and said, ‘Hey, I order your product all the time, but it’s kind of a pain for me to go back and re-order every time, and sometimes I run out and forget and am out of it. How about starting a subscription program?’ We tried it, and now the subscription program is growing like crazy. If you’re not listening to your customers, you’re really missing out on the big picture.