Every once in a while, a startup comes along that seeks to do something truly disruptive. FreeWater, founded by Josh Cilffords, is one of those startups. Josh joins Startup Savant to talk about his company, which aims to solve the world’s water and food crises by giving away “free” (ad-supported) water — and, ultimately, free groceries — to millions of people around the world.
- Startup Savant is a business podcast that tells the stories behind up-and-coming startups.
- Josh Cliffords joins Startup Savant to talk about his startup FreeWater.
- FreeWater’s goal is to solve the world’s water and food crises by giving away free water and groceries to millions of people around the world.
A New Approach to an Age-Old Problem
Everyone knows that nothing is actually free; someone always ends up paying. When it comes to water and food, Josh points out that the people who currently pay — consumers — often can’t afford to do so. That has led to millions worldwide suffering from chronic thirst and hunger.
Josh wants to change that by shifting the cost of water and food to advertisers, who he is certain will pay handsomely to place ads on product containers, thereby eliminating the cost of those products to consumers.
“FreeWater is the world’s first free beverage company,” he said during his interview with Startup Savants. “Our spring water and aluminum bottles and paper cartons are free because the packaging is the ad space. That’s the catch. It’s a new type of media and e-commerce platform.”
According to Josh, advertisers are already on board with the concept. This has allowed FreeWater to provide “negatively priced” bottled water — i.e., the company can donate part of the advertising proceeds to charity and still make money, while consumers pay nothing.
FreeWater doesn’t plan to limit itself to water. Selling ad-supported food is also in the works. “This isn’t just possible. It’s more profitable than selling groceries today,” he said. “I say groceries because FreeWater is just the first product of our negatively priced supermarkets, or ‘Amazon,’ if you will. We’re just getting the permits now to launch free beer in the state of Texas next. Then we’re going to be scaling free beer that donates to charity — 21 or over, of course — and then one product at a time. Before you know it, bam, free supermarket.”
‘Ending Global Famine’
Josh said FreeWater’s long-term goal is a lofty one: to “end global famine” once and for all. Doing this, he said, is much more efficient than relying on government programs.
“If you ask the UN or the United States what it would cost to end global famine permanently, they don’t even have a number for that,” he said. “But their number to temporarily solve it is way over the top, and that’s the type of number you get when governments spend $50 on a nail and a thousand dollars on a hammer. But when I calculated it responsibly, not wasted that way, [the cost] to end the global water crisis permanently is $10 billion or less. Any government could solve it in a second. They choose not to. I personally believe it’s because these are publicly traded commodities, water, pork bellies, you name it.”
FreeWater is counting on what Josh calls the “10% rule” to meet its goals. “The average American spends five or six hundred bucks a year on bottled water, and those people drink up to six bottles a day,” he said. “Our goal is just to give 10% of Americans three free beverages a day, starting with water. Each of these donate a minimum of $0.10 towards ending the global water crisis. When we hit that 10% mark with FreeWater, we’re donating $3.4 billion a year to charity [via] that single product. In a few years of achieving that 10% milestone, we’ve ended the global water crisis permanently. That means building water wells and water systems for 800 million plus people around the world without a penny of tax dollars.”
The Startup Savant Podcast
The Startup Savant podcast is a business podcast created by The Really Useful Information Company (TRUiC) and hosted by Ethan Peyton, founder of State Requirement. Listeners can hear the stories behind startups, as told by their founders, that are in the midst of growing their companies.
Hear from a variety of real startup founders from around the globe and with varying backgrounds, making their startup idea a reality. Learn from experts sharing their industry knowledge on venture capital, securing funding, and more on the Startup Savant podcast.
Josh Cliffords joins Startup Savant to discuss founding his startup FreeWaterinotta. He talks about how his startup could provide ad-supported water and food for people around the world at no cost to them, thereby solving world hunger permanently and far faster than any government or nongovernmental organization.
You can find the Startup Savant podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.