Dollard has 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, and her CV also includes a high-profile stint at PepsiCo, where she directed worldwide flavor and ingredient activities for all Pepsi Cola products.
Shortly after retiring, Dollard – who has a Phd. In biochemistry, began experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen in early 2011 – hoping to recreate drinks reminiscent of authentic Hispanic aguas frescas.
New launch agua enerviva is the result, and Dollard founded the brand with former Vitaminwater colleague Michael Venuti.
The drink has 10 calories per serving and comes in Kiwi Strawberry, Tea and Lemonade, Pomegranate Acai, Orange Passion and Fruit Punch flavors.
Formulated using South American guarana extract it has 100mg of caffeine per bottle, contains potassium and sodium for hydration/replenishment but no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
BD: "Hi Carol! How much do you think the Vitaminwater experience helped you and Michael in terms of getting agua enerviva up and running?"
CD: “Our time at Vitaminwater was certainly exciting and groundbreaking in the industry. I think we learned a lot about starting up and driving rapid growth in an entrepreneurial environment, which has helped immensely in getting agua enerviva going. It’s not only knowing what to do, but also what not to do!”
BD: “Why did you opt for these particular flavors – was it through taste tests, research into flavor preferences among Americans, etc.?”
CD: “The inspiration for the brand and flavors came from my love of the traditional Hispanic homemade beverages called aguas frescas. I then adapted some of these delicious concepts to American preferences and of course the flavors that I love myself.”
Fusing the 'best aspects' of sports drinks, enhanced waters, energy drinks
BD: “You’ve cherry picked the ‘best aspects’ of sports drinks, enhanced waters and energy drinks – so who do you see drinking the product, the target consumer?”
CD: “Our core consumer is typically between 18-34, but agua enerviva is a product for everyone who is health-minded and active today. Our consumer is the everyday achiever who wants great taste and to live life to the fullest.”
BD: “What was the rationale behind the NYC launch and where will you take the drinks next?”
'If you can make it in New York, chances are you can make it everywhere!'
CD: “agua enerviva was launched initially in the NY-NJ-CT tri-state region in a variety of channels, partially because that is where we are based, but also because New York is the epicenter of beverage innovation. If you can make it in New York, chances are you can make it everywhere.
“agua enerviva has been successful across AOM and grocery channels here, notably in Fairway Market, and we are expanding nationwide in Target stores starting in October.”
BD: “How long did it take your to perfect the formulation?”
CD: “agua enerviva went through a few iterations of formula and packaging until we got to where we are now, all in the last two years. Since we develop and own all of our own formulas, we could move rapidly when we saw an opportunity to improve the proposition.”
BD: “What sets this brand apart in the marketplace?”
CD: “agua enerviva combines the best aspects of sports drinks, enhanced waters and energy drinks by providing electrolyte hydration, great taste and natural energy from the guarana berry all in one low calorie beverage.
“Energy water is a new category that we are creating with agua enerviva, and now for the first time consumers don’t have to choose between great taste, hydration and energy.”
The biggest challenge for a new brand? Gaining exposure in a 'crowded space'
BD: “The packaging (the tall bottle) is interesting and reminds me a little of Sparkling Ice, albeit yours is a still product. Do you see any affinities with that brand, in terms of producing something that straddles the waters/soft drinks divide and enticing consumers to switch from soda?”
CD: “We believe our new bottle reflects the refreshing benefits of agua enerviva and the modern tastes of our consumer. We see our product as very different from Sparkling Ice, as agua enerviva contains no artificial colors or preservatives.”
BD: “What do you think the principal challenge is for a nascent brand in a competitive LRB fixture?”
CD: “Today’s biggest challenge for any new beverage entry is gaining exposure and distribution in an increasingly crowded space. However, the beverages that will have ultimate success and longevity will be those with clear benefits and mainstream appeal. We believe agua enerviva has these qualities, and are working to grow our awareness and availability nationwide.”