Josh Clifford’s startup FreeWater seeks to disrupt the water and food industries in a big way that, to hear Josh tell it, could literally change the world. He 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.
- 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 people all over the world.
Old Problem, New Approach
Current distribution networks for food and water require consumers who use the products to pay for them. That’s obvious, but the fact remains that millions of people around the world can’t afford the food and water they need. The result is worldwide suffering from chronic thirst and hunger.
During his interview with Startup Savant, Josh said FreeWater, “the world’s first free beverage company,” will solve this problem by having advertisers pay for bottled water in exchange for placing ads on the packaging. This, he says, will result in water and food that are free to consumers or even “negatively priced” – that is, FreeWater will be able to donate some of its advertising revenue to charity while still providing free products. So far, Josh said, this “new type of e-commerce platform” has worked handsomely for bottled water in aluminum bottles and paper cartons.
But water is just the beginning. Josh said during his interview that he sees no reason why this approach can’t also work for all kinds of foodstuffs – even to the point where it’s more profitable than the way groceries are currently sold. Thus, water is just the first product for FreeWater’s planned “negatively priced supermarkets.” The next product will be free beer, which the company is securing permits to sell in Texas. After that, it’s one product at a time until FreeWater offers an entire free superstore of food and drinks.
Global Famine: A Thing of the Past?
If all of this seems rather far-fetched, Josh told Startup Savant that it’s well within the realm of possibility. In fact, he said FreeWater’s long-term goal is nothing less than to “end global famine” through a market approach rather than trying to rely on inefficient government programs. Ditto for the global water crisis, which he said could be solved if FreeWater provides 10% of Americans with three free drinks a day, with at least $0.10 of the advertising proceeds from each drink – some $3.4 billion – donated annually to charity. All of that money could pay for wells, water systems, and other solutions to water scarcity.
Josh admitted during his interview that FreeWater has yet to “scratch the surface” of the global water and food crises using its approach. However, the company is making incremental progress, having built two water wells in Africa in 2022. “We saved a few thousand lives,” he said. “Next year, our goal is a hundred, then the year after that, a thousand, then 10,000, then so on and so forth.”
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.
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