INTERVIEW WITH THE FOUNDER, MARIA BAUM.
What made you create Splash?
Almost a decade ago, I became obsessed with a glaring hole in an otherwise overcrowded beverage industry. As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve created businesses in industries ranging from financial services and consumer products to real estate and hospitality. That list includes several popular restaurants that have great bar cultures. However, at home, though I consider myself a cook and I entertain quite a lot, I only served beer and wine as beverage choices. I was (and still am) afraid of making cocktails because of the additional distraction and because I worry about having to satisfy so many individual tastes when it comes to their go-to cocktail. I was also aware of friends who were using flavored waters, teas, drops, just about anything (besides cocktail mixers) to make their drinks healthier. As an entrepreneur, I was being pitched what seemed like endless investment proposals for copy-cat beverages – ever more protein drinks, recovery drinks, coffees, spirits, and even a clunky countertop appliance meant to make flavored drinks with sugary pods. All had the opposite appeal of what I wanted myself. The few mixers I located in stores had extremely limited appeal, from look to attributes. As a cancer survivor, I was increasingly committed to the health and wellness space and wanted to only make “better for you” products. But, as a foodie with a strong aversion to zero-calorie aftertaste, I needed it to taste great too. After a several year journey, we developed a product that “checked every box”. I am super proud of Splash today. It truly is all that I envisioned.
Why the name, Splash?
I wanted one simple word. “Splash” came to me while on a beach in Hawaii watching the iconic Laird Hamilton surf. I picked up a stick, wrote it in the sand, and knew that was it. Laird is a huge inspiration to me as an inventor, risk taker, entrepreneur, and wellness expert. He’s helped me personally navigate through serious illness twice in my life and has been very influential in my efforts to raise over $12mm to fund groundbreaking cancer research. “Splash” still brings me to that moment and to the positive things it represents to me. But to be honest, choosing the descriptive word(s) was less easy. During our brand awareness phase, I have a split second to communicate what Splash is. I want to say "cocktails", but for now, that only means one thing to most people. I love having this problem, because it means that we are a disruptor. After much consternation, we went with “Premium Cocktail Mixer”, but I will get it to "cocktails" someday.
Are we a mixer? Yes. But this word is limiting, as it evokes a category that is small overall and dominated by sub premium niche players with sugary, stodgy offerings that really can’t stand alone. Are we a cocktail? Yes. But some will imagine an RTD with mysterious generic alcohol in the bottle. If you consider clarifying terms you are left with non-alc cocktail, dry cocktail, virgin cocktail, clean cocktail or the most horrific “mocktail”, all terms which people don’t necessarily choose when shopping for a mixer! The fact is, the root “cocktail” is in each of those terms and works no matter how you choose to mix it. “Cocktails” best describes the entire space Splash can own.
How did you choose this bottle design?
I tried to design a bottle that could go ANYWHERE; a backyard event, a wedding or bottle service in Vegas... one that could proudly be displayed on any home bar cart or kitchen counter rather than hidden below. It needed to be gender neutral and fit with any décor. At the time, retail shelves were filled only with unsophisticated bottle shapes that were super busy with bright, jarring colors. The simple white bottle really got attention by being the opposite of that. We have since received a design award and frequently are complemented for the choice. The white label provides a great canvas for original artwork, doodles, messages, etc.
How did you decide on the flavors?
Originally, I hired others to create unique flavors. This was a misstep, which I rectified. I was asking the consumer to take too much risk when encountering this new product. If they were unfamiliar with the brand, I realized they at least needed to be familiar with the flavor. My initial concept was born of the need to nail what people were already expecting... to get their favorite drink order right. So, the classics are most important to me at first. As we grow, we plan to introduce more flavors.