It all started with six-pack abs.
Back in 2009, Edwin Broni-Mensah was on a mission to get in shape before he turned 25. His workout regimen made him realize how hard it was to avoid buying plastic bottles of water.
“[My] water level consumption was quite a lot. I would constantly be stopping at restaurants and asking them to fill a bottle for me because I was trying to reach my six-pack goals,” says Edwin. “But they would constantly encourage me to buy plastic-bottled water.”
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Inspired by these interactions, Edwin thought of a way to incentivize eateries to offer free tap water to visitors. He launched GiveMeTap and built an app that mapped out tap-water-friendly establishments, and sold reusable water bottles that supporters use to gain access to that tap water. The proceeds then fund various projects to build wells in Ghana, Malawi, and Namibia.
The concept not only resonated well with restaurant and café owners, it also caught the attention of journalists.
“GiveMeTap was on the front page of The Observer, and that completely changed my whole life and the trajectory of the business,” says Edwin. “I sold out of everything instantly. I remember waking up in the morning, seeing my inbox flooded with orders, and I didn’t understand what was going on.”
“I didn’t intend to work with corporate clients,” says Edwin. “I was invited to speak at an organization, and after the speech, one of the partners of that company said, ‘I’m going to buy everyone in the audience water bottles.’ And then a light bulb went off.”
Various corporate partners like Uber, Ralph Lauren, and Google partner with GiveMeTap by having their employees switch to reusable water bottles. Their purchases of these bottles then fund the building of wells in Africa—a model that also benefits corporations financially.
“They were able to [balance their] P&L [profit and loss sheets] for themselves within 18 months, which means they became profitable in that component from not having to buy plastic cups,” Edwin says. “They were able to reduce waste, and create a significant impact from a CSR [corporate social responsibility] perspective by helping people get more clean drinking water.”
The journey of growing GiveMeTap is just one of the topics that Edwin shares on this episode of our mini-series, Shopify On Location. Tune into the full interview to hear Edwin’s tips for applying to incubators, advice for founders building a fully remote business, and how he enriches his personal life to succeed in his professional life.