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Alee Pingol

E-Commerce has long been crowned king of sales, but many find it difficult to break into the well-established industries. Carving out your own piece of the pie takes a unique combination of skill, timing, and product quality.

Within each niche are well-entrenched giants with large and loyal customer bases armed with the kind of funds and resources that make most newcomers freeze in awe. Disrupting such industries is a feat in itself, but to secure a space for your business that stays is another matter entirely.

This is exactly what Shane Heath, founder and CEO of MUD/WTR, did with his innovative business model and product. Heath and his team didn’t just challenge the multi-million-dollar coffee industry but created their own space to thrive right under their noses.

The Magic Formula

Through a combination of personal testing and research, Heath found a winning formula first by making what he wanted for himself but was lacking in the market.

Like so many of us, Heath found himself at times in a bit of a slog with traditional coffee. The steady drip of caffeine provided an easy morning jolt, but for long-lasting focus, it is lacking and often results in inefficient midday energy crashes.

So, he went out on his own, and in time formulated MUD/WTR from an all-star list of ingredients like reisha, chaga, and cacao. Some like masala chai and chaga have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for millennia, but others like functional mushrooms are just now starting to get recognition by the scientific community for their benefits.

When put together, it makes for an ideal morning beverage that sets the table for a successful day and sustainable energy levels. Heath is an ardent believer in the power and importance of rituals.

He found MUD/WTR provided everything he needed physically and mentally to prepare for his work but with one-seventh the amount of caffeine found in a typical cup of coffee. MUD/WTR isn’t just about raw energy, its formula is based around stimulating creativity in a way coffee simply cannot copy.

While at the onset MUD/WTR was something Heath only made for himself and his friends, eventually he decided to try selling it online as an ultra-light start-up project. What happened next surprised Heath and set in motion the incredible growth of the brand.

Scaling to Success

Starting off MUD/WTR was a fun side project for Heath, the name a joke inspired by the murky consistency and look of the drink. With laser-focused digital marketing and a lean business model, MUD/WTR was able to quickly scale up to six figures within its first six months of existence.

For those who aren’t familiar with typical startup speeds, that’s the e-commerce equivalent of just under light-speed. It was a labor of love that wasn’t necessarily ready for this kind of volume, but Heath and his team found a way to make it work with old fashion resourcefulness and innovation.

From Heath’s home lab they expanded into commercial kitchens, learning how to scale their mixing process on the fly. They found the right investors who not only believed in MUD/WTR as a product but in Heath’s vision for the company and his health-focused ethos as a whole.

It required grit and resourcefulness to disrupt the coffee industry, but MUD/WTR was able to scale up towards success at the highest level due to its unique product and the ability to adapt. Equally important though was how he positioned MUD/WTR to stay there for the long haul, both in products and company culture.

A Ritual of Rejuvenation

Once Heath and his team rose to the top of the game the goal became how to maintain success without sacrificing quality. While MUD/WTR is carried in select retail shops and cafes, their main mode of distribution is direct-to-consumer. Once the positive reviews started pouring in and praising their core product, it was just a matter of making the most of the attention.

Through carefully calibrated social media marketing and organic spread via word of mouth, they gained 45,000 email subscribers. With deliveries automated to arrive each month, the overhead is minimal and the effect massive.

On an internal level, MUD/WTR focused on keeping employees feeling happy and fulfilled with various programs. Every Friday they do free breathing exercises, which are available to the public as well digitally, and their company culture encourages finding a ritual that supports individual needs and goals.

Externally they outreached to other like-minded companies, and MUD/WTR regularly donates to forward-thinking organizations like MAPS that share a passion for helping people find their optimal level of health.

When put together, it made for a business model built around natural rejuvenation for its employees, subscribers, and partners alike. By keeping everything flowing at a steady pace, the team’s time and attention can then be focused on ensuring potential new products like creamer or sweetener are up to the same high standard as their first.

MUD/WTR is a company that doesn’t just challenge the coffee industry but traditional e-commerce industries as a whole. While their products are designed to provide a healthy alternative to coffee, their model itself is just as revolutionary in challenging the conventional.

Taken as a whole, there’s much to be celebrated about Heath’s passion project of MUD/WTR. The brand has positioned itself to help those looking to break their caffeine addiction and provide a product that stimulates natural energy levels that last.

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