Meet Tom Bushkie, CEO and Co-Founder of hellowater®

Tom Bushkie

Meet Tom. Tom is the CEO and Co-Founder of hellowater®. We recently had the opportunity to connect with Tom to learn more about his passion for living a healthy lifestyle and how hellowater® started. Check out our interview with Tom below and learn more about one of the founders of hellowater®.

Where were you when you first got the idea to launch hellowater®? Do you remember the initial spark that started this movement?

Tom: I remember the exact moment. It was July 29th, 2016. I was in Miami for a beverage conference. I accidentally walked into an afternoon seminar where Neilsen was presenting the latest trends in the [health and wellness] industry.

One of the slides from the presentation showed that, when it came to functional benefits and ingredients, both Baby Boomers and Millennials found fiber to be the most important factor. That was the exact moment I decided I was going to create the drink.

I had already been toying around with the idea of creating an appetite suppressant water for a couple of months now and I knew fiber was one of the ingredients I wanted to use. That one slide completely confirmed my concept.

When I returned back home, I immediately started formulating a recipe. It took less than a month to create the first iterations and as they say, the rest is history. Had I not accidentally walked into that room, I’m not sure if hellowater® would exist today.

What were some of the driving forces that brought hellowater® from discussion to creation? 

Tom: I really just went with my gut (no pun intended) and was confident this type of beverage would be really well received by consumers. There was nothing like it on the market and I knew if I could successfully build a prototype, I would be able to raise the money needed to get the company started.  

What about hellowater® brings you the most joy?

Tom: Hearing from our community. The consumers, the fans, and seeing how much our beverages have [positively] impacted their lives and their health. It never gets old!

I’ve heard from customers who have lost over 100 pounds and others that no longer have to be on medication for Type 2 diabetes. We hear a lot from mothers that hellowater® is the only water their kids will drink. For me, taking sugar out of kids’ hands is so rewarding! It’s absolutely amazing to witness.

I also get a lot of joy working with our team and creating jobs. Whether it is our own internal team, partners or anyone who helps us out through the supply chain, it is very rewarding knowing we’re able to support them and their families.

To think, all of this came from a crazy concept of creating an appetite suppressant water and now we’re able to support so many people. I really look forward to growing our team and the positive impact it will continue to have on so many lives.

What is the most memorable experience you have had since you’ve launched hellowater®?

Tom: There have been so many! From seeing the first bottle come off the production line, to winning the best packaging award among thousands of other products, to see the first person I did not know grab a bottle off the shelf to purchase, they each mean so much to me.

Probably the most memorable moment though is from the company Christmas party back in December of 2018. To see our team members, our investors, and our vendors all come together to celebrate and give thanks for a great year was so remarkable. Knowing everyone was there because we took this concept, got the right people on board, and executed it so thousands of consumers could benefit from it – that evening is something I will forever cherish.

Tell us about your background. What did you do before creating hellowater®?

Tom: I have been an entrepreneur nearly all of my life. I started mowing lawns at a very young age for $3 per lawn if I remember correctly. Luckily, I think I was able to make $10 per lawn when I finished that phase of my life. I would mow the lawns for family, friends, and neighbors. Pretty much anyone who would let me and I loved it!

In my teenage years, just about every weekend, I used to DJ parties, school dances, and weddings. I made good money and it helped keep me out of trouble. Plus, it was a great opportunity for me to practice my public speaking and socializing skills.

In college, I ran a College Pro Painting franchise and eventually led the business to become one of the most successful in all of North America. It was also during college that I developed a passion for nutrition.

I wanted to learn more so I could change my own physique, so I immersed myself in everything surrounding exercise and nutrition. Mainly, I focused on how to build muscle and get ripped! Keep in mind, this was pre-internet days, so everything I studied came from fitness magazines and the library. Once I learned that 80% of physical results are based on nutrition, I really dove in and read anything and everything I possibly could about diet and nutrition. It was only after I graduated from college that I became a certified nutritionist. 

At that time, I started another business consulting for companies and individuals. While I was doing this, I came up with the idea to create an all-natural carbonated soft drink (soda) that was very low in sugar so consumers didn’t have to decide between artificial sweeteners or 40g of sugar for each beverage. We called it Rainforest Beverages and that was my introduction into the world of beverages.

How does your background tie into your relationship with hellowater®? How has your expertise contributed to its development and research?

Tom: I manage the operations and technical side of hellowater®, so I know a lot about ingredients and formulation. Running Rainforest Beverages provided me with the operational skills it takes to create a beverage and bring it from concept to market including managing costs, producing the beverage, raising capital and running sales.

When creating new products, I will always make sure we are using the very best ingredients and that our beverages taste great even though we don’t use any sugar. I’m constantly predicting and watching for the next wellness trend in the beverage industry, so we can innovate and offer more valuable products for our community and customers.  

If you could describe the core mission of hellowater® in just a few sentences, what would it be?

Tom: Our mission starts with decreasing or eliminating sugar from people’s lives. We do this by creating innovative and inspiring products that we know will truly benefit our customers. Not just their health, but their entire lives as well. We’re passionate about bringing positivity back into the world and we will work tirelessly to improve our customer’s lives, both mentally and physically.  

Tell us about your relationship with the hellowater® community. Has hellowater®’s popularity taken you by surprise?

Tom: I pretty much wear a hellowater® fleece, shirt, or sweatshirt almost every day of my life and it’s pretty cool when a complete stranger says hello and comments on the brand.

I am not surprised at the popularity of hellowater® because I know we make great products that really benefit people’s lives and we do it in a fun and memorable way. It’s always rewarding to read about hellowater® in the trade [magazines] and have other people not only recognize, but also validate our mission.  

Tell us about the defense and alkaline lines. What impresses you the most about both?

Tom: Both lines are incredible beverages! I can’t state how special and unique hellowater® Defense is. The doctor who created the technology is a brilliant man and we are so fortunate to be able to deliver this to consumers. Once consumers understand exactly how much this will improve their lives, we know we will see millions of people consuming it every day. To have a beverage that essentially blocks incoming toxins and prevents chemicals from wreaking havoc on the body is amazing! The feeling one gets after drinking a bottle of Defense is very uplifting. Knowing we have the only beverage that can do this is very rewarding and I can’t wait to hear all the positive stories from customers once they try it.  

The hellowater® alkaline is simply awesome tasting water for those people that don’t want the added flavor of our flavor-infused line. The taste is so crisp and clean, you can’t help but chug the bottle. Regarding the high PH and its benefits, I know my own personal body, and most others, feel so much better when our PH levels are more alkaline than acidic. You just don’t feel all that great when your body is more acidic. I firmly believe [more acidity] can lead to inflammation and getting sick more often, so whenever possible, I always prefer hellowater® alkaline and the high PH benefits. 

Lastly – what is your favorite hellowater® flavor?

Tom: I go in phases, but currently my favorite hellowater® flavor is the Cherry Lime (DEFEND) flavor from the hellowater® Defense line.

To learn more about the hellowater® team, connect with us @hellowater.

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