Refilled wants to change the way we drink; but they also want to re-imagine the entire beverage supply chain so you can get your favourite drink in YOUR bottle, without the waste.
What does your business do, and who are your customers?
Refilled is a technology company building a sustainable alternative for beverage brands, organisations and consumers to go plastic free. Our circular economy involves a smart drink dispenser, smart drink bottles and a companion app that allows people to grab a flavoured, still or sparkling drink on tap, without waste.
What’s your mission?
Our mission is to change the way people drink beverages on the go and eliminate 100,000,000 single-use plastic bottles from ending up in our oceans or landfill by 2030.
Our vision is to create the most sustainable beverage company in the world by driving the transition toward refillables.
What does it mean to you, to be a ‘social enterprise’?
I’ve spent the last 10 years working in a variety of startups and over time I found myself questioning whether growth, revenue and profit were all that really mattered. I wanted to create something where we could make lots of money but do good for the planet at the same time. I’d say 99% of my friends all have that same yearning to do something good and find purpose in their work.
I believe with Refilled we’re going to attract the best talent because people are going to have a deep-rooted, positive reason to get up and go to work every day. How good would it feel to not only hit your $1M in sales, but 1M plastic bottles saved too!
Can you scale a mission? Are there challenges around growing your business, while also staying committed to your impact thesis?
Being a physical, hardware-based company we’re definitely going to face challenges scaling compared to a software business. But the proof is in the pudding, there are hundred billion-dollar beverage brands out there already, with global sales and reach so I don’t see any reason why Refilled can’t be the same.
With the right team, infrastructure and partnerships we can definitely grow Refilled beyond just Australia. I firmly believe that the bigger we get, the more impact we’ll actually be able to have.
How have you seen investor sentiment change over the past 5 years, when it comes to recognising the value (or cost) of being mission-led?
I couldn’t comment on the last 5 years as this is my first impact venture, but I can say that even within the last 18 months there has been a huge shift towards ESG, sustainability and impact.
Investors can see that the consumers of the future are making decisions on which products/services to use based on their mission and values, so the money will flow where attention goes.
Was there a business (either local or globally) that influenced the development of your organisation?
My desire to start Refilled has been influenced by dozens of different businesses and situations I witness in life every day. I actually came up with the idea for Refilled when I was at the gym. I had finished a workout and was on my way out, but as I was leaving I wanted to grab a drink. I was thirsty and had an empty drink bottle in my hand, but nowhere to fill it. The water bubbler to my left was broken, and to my right was an illuminated haven of soft drinks, sports drinks, protein shakes and flavoured waters. So all those brands, all those bottles sitting there just pissed me off, to be honest. I wanted to grab a refill into my stainless steel drink bottle but I couldn’t do it. So I bought a sports drink, and with my empty bottle in my bag, I skulled it within a couple of minutes. Now empty and pretty much useless I went looking for a yellow bin to recycle the bottle but couldn’t find one, into the red trash it went. Since then I’ve definitely been influenced by all the beverage brands, water fountains and startups out there that are trying to solve this problem in their own, unique ways.
What’s in store for your business in 2022?
Refilled has just raised a $500k Seed round and we are well on our way to getting the best drink dispenser in the market out there. We will have some really exciting partnerships to announce by the end of the year with some of Australia’s leading tech companies, universities and gyms chains who all want to go plastic-free.