Zereau Drinks provide the sustainable alternative for single-use bottled drinks by using hand-made dispensers that ultra-filter, chill and carbonise the water from the grid. This replaces the need for single-use bottles.

In October 2022, Zereau Drinks raised €408,250 from 203 investors on the Seedrs platform, more than doubling the initial fundraising target. We caught up with Daf Dubbelman, Managing Partner at Zereau Drinks, who told us more about the story of the company and the fundraising experience with Seedrs.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and where the idea of Zereau Drinks came from? 

My name is Daf Dubbelman and I’m a Managing Partner at Zereau Drinks. I joined the company back in 2018 when there was only one full-time employee. Zereau Drinks was the brainchild of my friend Tom Niekamp, who started the concept as a movement in 2010 to combat the waste of single-use bottled water in bars and restaurants. This movement turned into the social enterprise that it is today, pursuing a “REFILLution” where people are refilling cups and bottles as opposed to constantly buying single-use bottled drinks. As we’ve been scaling, our recent focus has been increasing our revenues through supporting larger customers. Ultimately, larger revenues enable us to hire and pay more members of staff and further grow the business with sustainability at the forefront. If you are in the red, you cannot be green! 

I have always had an entrepreneurial background and have held previous roles in international corporate banking, too. In particular at Zereau Drinks, I’ve been in charge of funding processes and hiring the relevant staff to take our social enterprise to the next level. This includes hiring our current CEO, Babs van de Voort, who joined the company in 2021. 

What are you doing that sets you apart in terms of sustainability?

The concept of Zereau Drinks was developed as a result of the documentary, Tapped. Tom was triggered by the unveiling of single-use bottles’ negative effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil. He shared his thoughts with me, alongside his solution-based idea to replace single-use bottles with something more efficient, and I knew I had to be onboard. 

One thing that makes me particularly proud to be part of Zereau Drinks is that not only are we trying to reduce single-use wastage, our customers actually prefer the taste of our water to bottled alternatives. We carry out blind tastings with our water, which has been filtered through our dispensing systems, vs. bottled water from the South of France, Italy, and as far as Fiji, and we receive feedback that our water tastes better!

In addition, not only are we disrupting the industry, we’ve designed our dispensers so they look similar to beer kegs. The Dutch-style design, made of wood and stainless steel, provides an experience when the water is being poured, much like pouring a pint of beer. Recently, we’ve also diversified our product by adding natural syrups to our water to produce sodas. This means we’re able to replace the need for single-use soda bottles such as Sprite, Fanta and Coca Cola, too.

With Zereau Drinks, we want to change the mindsets of the market for the better. Many people still prefer to drink bottled water vs. tap water driven by marketing campaigns of single-use beverage producers, but they are not considering the waste created by doing so. We’re trying to create positive social change with the use of PR to show consumers how much better locally-made, sustainable drinks taste, as well as how much better they are for the planet.

As we’ve grown, we’ve developed a client base which includes lots of large and interesting companies, from Facebook, to the Van Gogh museum, to PwC and KPMG. We’re also currently working on bringing some large clients onboard in Germany, which is part of our international expansion plan. We are really enjoying creating a movement and making people aware of the negative effects of single-use products. As mentioned earlier, we’re stimulating the “REFILLution”.

Why did you choose to raise through your community, how did you find the process and why Seedrs over other platforms?

We chose to raise through our community because whenever we tell people about the mission of Zereau Drinks, they get really excited about it. You need believers and fans of your product or concept in order to drive success. We’ve always found it’s been easy to bring advocates of our business onboard, because most people you meet support the transition away from single-use bottles and drinks. 

The fundraising process is definitely challenging as there are multiple elements to it, but one thing I really liked was that during our fundraise with Seedrs, we received lots of great questions and ideas from our community. This was refreshing for us, and led us to think about different narratives for our business. Our investors were keen to offer suggestions and have been really beneficial to have as part of the journey. 

The reason we chose Seedrs over other fundraising platforms was because we have international ambitions, meaning an international platform was a good, strategic choice for us. In addition, the secondary market was of interest to create more liquidity for investors. I would recommend Seedrs to other founders looking to raise across a European platform, but I must mention that I believe in order to be successful, you need a product or mission that resonates with the public. If you have created a product or service that is sustainable and will provide benefits for our planet, it’s easier to get investors behind the mission.

What are you using the proceeds of your Seedrs campaign for? 

We keep developing the product using R&D because we want to optimise our product by making the dispensers smarter with payment modules and impact metres. The funds will also be used to aid our international expansion and we are currently carrying out an analysis on where to expand to next. We’re also looking to start a new fundraising campaign relatively soon. 

What has the impact of the Seedrs raise been on the company?

Fundraising with Seedrs has been great for our brand because the campaign itself generated publicity and caused hype around our product. There were some investors who invested larger tickets because they were already interested in what we were doing two years ago. They had been anticipating the opportunity to invest for a long time. It’s great to have these investors onboard as they are highly knowledgeable and have added value by offering advice on how to grow and scale. I would say that the majority of investors came from our network and customer base, but it’s great to have Seedrs investors onboard now, too. 

What advice would you have for other founders looking to raise capital?

My advice would be to hire a professional marketing and video agency to create your campaign video and to make your story as attractive as possible, especially when producing your pitch deck. We should have made more of this opportunity and I think this could have further benefited our campaign.

Any other general advice for entrepreneurs looking to run their own businesses?

Running your own company is fun, as long as you can manage setbacks and have perseverance. Be ambitious, but also be sure to think twice and pull the plug if you don’t get the traction you hoped for after a certain amount of time. 

Follow Zereau Drinks on social media and take part in our next fundraising round, to join the REFILLution! 

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