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Three entrepreneurs, cracking the coconut water market

The healthy drink business might seem an unlikely entrepreneurial avenue for a pair of club operators to branch into, but for Adam Abrams and Julian Tobias it’s a move that’s paying off.

The pair, who own Kings Cross venue TheClub and floating summer venue The Island, launched the C Coconut Water range last summer after joining forces with fellow entrepreneur and beverage expert Zac Jex. Before going to market, the trio travelled the world searching for a way to deliver organic coconut water that’s packaged at the source and unpolluted by preservatives and additives – something the other brands weren’t doing.

They found the coconut supply they were looking for on a remote island in the Philippines, and tentatively launched ‘C’ (as it’s called in healthy circles) into premium health stores. Word spread quickly and soaring demand means C’s now stocked in over 1,000 stores across the country, with up to 180,000 units being shipped in per month.

C has also become a favourite of many celebrities, including model Erica Heynatz and TV presenter Sarah Wilson. It’s even rumoured that Leonardo DiCaprio had his fridge constantly stocked with C while filming the Great Gatsby locally now that’s celebrity endorsement at its best!

Here, co-founder Adam Abrams shares his tips for how small businesses can land themselves a top brand ambassador and talks about how the trio keep their business partnership running smoothly.

Q. What sets your brand and product apart from other Coconut water brands?

We definitely weren’t the first to market, but what we wanted to be was the best tasting product, and to be completely organic.

We spent two years travelling the globe to find what we were looking for. We found coconuts from Mexico, India and Indonesia were too salty while the Thai ones were too sweet. It was on an island on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean that we found the untouched, organic coconuts we’d been looking for.

At this point, no-one had done coconut water properly in Australia. Products from the American market were far too sweet and the few attempts from domestic importers had failed to preserve the taste and nutrient content due to their inferior packaging and pasteurisation processes. We solve this problem by packaging our coconut water at the source – not from a concentrate – in a tetra pack.

Q. How do you manage to balance the running of your clubs with the building your C Coconut business? Any work/life balance advice?

I guess we don’t have a great balance, and due to our various businesses we end up working seven days a week, but we love what we do and to us it doesn’t really feel like work. That might sound like a bit of a cliché but that is definitely the best way to think about it.

Q. Did your knowledge of the entertainment industry assist in launching the C Coconut brand? How?

I think the network we had and the fact we came from a marketing background definitely helped. We knew how to get C in the hands of the “right” people. These people became brand ambassadors, and started talking about, tweeting and taking photos of our product.

Q. The three of you worked together to found this business – do you have any tips for maintaining harmony between business partners?

Our partnership just works because we have three different skill sets. This definitely makes it easier, because everyone in our team is free to play to their strengths.

Q. C Coconut is a socially-conscious business – giving back by donating to local farmers in the Philippines and planting new coconut seedlings – do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs to think about giving back to their community?

Yes – one hundred percent.

This hits home for us when visiting our factory especially, as this shows us how much of a difference we can make to the local community and seeing the tangible effects makes all the hard work worth it.

Q. C Coconut is becoming a favourite among celebrities, do you have any tips for how other entrepreneurs can attract celebrity endorsements?

It’s just not feasible for a small business to sign a celebrity up to an endorsement contract.

Don’t force your product down their throats (excuse the pun) – let them discover it themselves, or just send them some free samples. It seems easy, but you can never really rely on endorsements.

Q. What’s next for C Coconut?

We’ve just launched in New Zealand and are looking forward to opening up operations in other regions. Next in the pipeline is South Africa and Japan, which we are really excited about!

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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