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Hydrant introduces fast, effective hydration to your daily routine

Hydrant Inc. is an NYC based startup that is redefining health & wellness by creating the fastest and most effective hydration solution. Its first product, Hydrant, is a flavored electrolyte powder for everyday use when water alone is not enough. I caught up with co-founder, Jai Kim, to discuss Hydrant’s journey and learn more about its vision to empower customers to control the quality of their days.

A Lifestyle-Focused Hydration Solution

When dehydration strikes, it affects many aspects of your daily routine – it can impair cognitive functions, leaving you feeling tired, confused, and dizzy, and can also dry out skin and cause cramping. When the body loses water, electrolytes are lost as well. Drinking water helps replace the lost water but does not address the body’s electrolyte imbalance. Jai explained the importance of hydrating using a solution that mirrors biological electrolyte and water levels in order to feel energized and maintain optimal performance throughout the day. Hydrant delivers this balance with its unique electrolyte formula. Whether you are looking for a mid-day energy boost at the office, are recovering from a long night of drinking, need to hydrate after a workout, or want hydrated skin, Hydrant provides a simple, flavorful, and healthier hydration solution to fit busy and versatile lifestyles.

Today’s hydration products are typically developed for sports and exercise, or are more medicinal, targeted at those re-hydrating during an illness. Sports hydration solutions include products like Gatorade, which contains the proper balance of electrolytes to replenish those lost in sweat but fails to raise electrolytes to their optimal levels. What’s more, these beverages contain unnecessarily high levels of sugar. The more medicinal brands like Pedialyte have sub-optimal taste and require a trip to the baby aisle of the pharmacy. Hydrant’s competitors in the hydration space such as Liquid I.V., DripDrop, and Nuun are limited by sports-focused brand perception as well. These branding limitations alienate consumers looking for simple, tasty, and versatile hydration options.  Hydrant’s founders saw a need to create a product that could go beyond athletes and medicine to serve as a healthy component of people’s daily routines. Hydrant is positioned as a lifestyle brand – one that people turn to at the gym, in the office, and after the bars.

A New Player in the Hydration Space

Hydrant’s co-founder, John Sherwin, began developing the product in 2017. A biology graduate from Oxford University with work experience in the nanotechnology and tech product management space, John was focused on applying a scientific perspective to product development in the health and wellness space. He initially developed Hydrant for his own purposes – drawing inspiration from his childhood in the UK when his mom would give him hydration powder to alleviate an upset stomach. He sought to develop a product that could promote optimal hydration for his active lifestyle.

While John set out to develop his hydration solution, Hydrant’s co-founder, Jai Kim, was also exploring business opportunities in the health and wellness space. Jai began his career as a McKinsey consultant, later moving into the private equity space where he focused on consumer products and tech investing. After losing a close family member to health complications, he grew a passion for products that promote a healthy lifestyle and was inspired to develop a hydration product after seeing businesses with similar products in other countries. During his initial research, Jai realized that his lack of scientific expertise would make developing an effective product formula challenging.

The two co-founders met when Jai was brought on as a beta tester for Hydrant. Jai fell in love with the taste of John’s product as well as its branding and design. He saw an opportunity to combine his business and distribution experience with John’s science background to grow the business. After six months of discussion and Jai’s difficult decision to drop out of the MBA program at Wharton, the two teamed up to launch Hydrant in August 2018 and haven’t looked back since.

A Scientific Approach to Hydration

Hydrant’s electrolyte formula provides a blend of potassium and sodium with minimal sugars and no artificial colors or flavors that promotes rapid absorption for re-hydration. Jai explained that while people tend to associate sodium with negative health effects, it is actually an essential component of the hydration equation. High levels of potassium neutralize the negative impact of sodium, which is why Hydrant is high in both.

To promote rapid absorption of the powder into the body, Hydrant leverages the body’s internal absorption mechanism by including a small amount of sugar. It also has low particles per unit volume, which helps promote its absorption into the body. Science lingo aside, this product is designed for rapid, natural, and effective re-hydration. It is also safe – Hydrant leverages an FDA compliant method for developing the powder that was originally established by the World Health Organization.

We’ve all fallen victim to buying and forcing down wellness beverages that claim to improve our heath. So how does Hydrant’s taste stack up? Customers have reported high satisfaction with the product’s mild, refreshing taste and ability to make them feel wholesome and rejuvenated.

“Hydrant has a great, mild taste, it’s less intrusive than a cup of coffee, not as sugary sweet as Gatorade, and I feel no shame binge drinking.” – Hydrant Customer

Omni-Channel Distribution Channels Promote Early Growth

Hydrant is proudly 100% made in the USA. The company currently uses a California-based co-packer and is already identifying larger manufacturers to partner with as it continues to grow. Hydrant has proven to be great for e-commerce – its light weight makes shipping easy and inexpensive. The business is currently focused on activating distribution channels that do not require high levels of capital investment such as gyms, offices, spas and beauty retailers, and will continue to identify strategic distribution channels to generate stable revenue streams and build brand-awareness through physical presence. Since launching in August, Jai and John have secured B2B sales with Jetblack and Stockwell and are currently in conversations with various gym chains and office distributors.

Jai and John have a long-term vision for being an omni-channel business with a strong digital marketing presence while remaining highly capital efficient. In preparation to execute this strategy, Hydrant plans to conduct experiments analyzing customer acquisition costs across a variety of use cases and content. It is also tapping into Amazon and various other online marketplaces.

Hydrant went live in August, 2018 and is quickly gaining traction. With $0 in marketing spend, it saw steady organic growth in September and ~20% repeat customers. Additionally, among the Shopify stores that launched within the same week as Hydrant, it currently ranks among the top 4%. The founders are optimistic that growth will continue as Hydrant strengthens its omni-channel presence.

The business also has major funding efforts underway, with notable angels including a co-founder of Casper, co-founder of Fandango, reputable angels in the valley, and partners from various VC funds.

Looking Beyond Hydration

Aside from developing a lifestyle hydration solution, the team’s broader mission focuses on empowering customers to control the quality of their days. Hydrant’s roadmap includes developing and launching two new flavors, a bottled product, and sleep-aid products for 2018-2019. The formulation for Hydrant’s second flavor – grapefruit, was just finalized and the team is already considering options for its third. After the new flavors are released, the founders plan to focus on introducing Hydrant’s next product, a sleep aid, as a lifestyle product targeted at its existing customer base.

As a hydration novice who frequently turns to water when dehydration strikes, I was inspired to think more about the impact effective hydration could have on my daily routine after my conversation with Jai. Hydrant has found a way to differentiate itself within the world of hydration products, and it will be interesting to see how its vision plays out in the broader lifestyle-focused health and wellness space.

Interested in trying Hydrant?  StartU readers can get 20% off on Hydrant’s website using promo code STARTU20. 

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