In this exclusive Q&A, we chat to David Freeman from Sydney healthy beverage company H2Coco, whose widely popular pure coconut water products saw H2Coco crowned 2013 My Business Award winner in the Best Growth Strategy category, sponsored by My Business.
My Business: Why did you start your own business?
David Freeman: I’ve always been an independent operator and have never liked having a boss. In 2009, I discovered the lack of coconut water in Australia and New Zealand and set off in search of freshest, most thirst-quenching, high quality coconut water I could find. I travelled to The Philippines, Thailand, Brazil and Indonesia. I decided to use a coconut plantation in The Philippines, which satisfied my expectations with manufacturing and producing coconut products in 2011, and H2Coco was born.
MB: How has your business evolved since its inception?
DF: Coconut water, being a new beverage category to Australia and NZ, was at first very difficult to enter as consumers and retailers were unfamiliar with our product. One thing H2Coco strived for from the beginning was educating the population on the coconut water category, then turning that education into “Why H2Coco!”. So over the past two and a half years the coconut water category has gone from non-existent to must have.
MB: What business challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
DF: I will relate back to the knowledge of the coconut water category. At first there was no category, and still to this day our marketing plan is focused on education. With education comes a need…a need for H2Coco. We overcome this problem by mass marketing, sampling to initiate a positive trial of the product and strategic thinking everyday to increase the awareness of the brand and product range.
MB: What’s the best business decision you’ve ever made?
DF: Sticking to my instinct when everyone else doubted me – the creation of H2coco.
MB: What does it mean for you to be recognised as a My Business Award winner in 2013?
DF: This award was not expected at all. When H2Coco was named Best Growth Strategy winner I was over the moon! I believe it’s a great achievement that works well with our company and looking at the growth period we are in now, this fits perfectly.
MB: How did you find the event at Marquee at The Star?
DF: The event was organised well. Thank you for having us.
MB: What are your most effective work habits?
DF: I don’t stop working and no matter what time of the day it is you will always catch me on emails or on the phone. I don’t believe in 0900 to 1700 work methods, especially when we are dealing with so many other countries. If you want your business to succeed, you need to put in the time and effort.
MB: What’s your key to great leadership?
DF: Ensuring that you have the respect of the people around you and working with you. I never want to be labelled a “boss” – I despise that term. I would prefer to say, “we work together”, and I’ve quoted this on numerous times to all staff members.
MB: Do you have a business motto?
DF: Business: Employees are forward thinkers and self-managers, duties are not only conducted for specified roles, but there is a common understanding that every task should be treated with urgency and importance. Given the pace the company is growing at, everyone finds a way to pull their weight and contribute to their best ability. Communication: To achieve a healthy living lifestyle across Australia and New Zealand by educating people with the correct health benefits of H2Coco.
MB: Moving forward, how’s the outlook for your business?
DF: H2Coco is in such demand that the growth of this company is increasing at a rate we are struggling to keep up with. With new product varieties, ranges and sizes being released, we aim to effectively target new retail markets, specifically hospitality. We’ve also been building on our product portfolio for other coconut related products including H2Coco Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, which will be released in December. The future of H2Coco is looking very bright with many exciting transformations to come.
MB: Would you encourage business owners to enter the My Business Awards in 2014?
DF: I would encourage anyone to enter these awards as you never know who might be there or be reading it at another date when you have won.
MY BUSINESS CONGRATULATES H2COCO ON BEING A DESERVING MY BUSINESS AWARD WINNER IN 2013.