A start-up saving wonky fruit and veg from going to waste is now in almost 7,000 stores after starting life with a Start Up Loan.

Dash Water - VSU of the Week

Innovative brand Dash Water infuses sparkling water with surplus fruit and vegetables to create a refreshing soft drink.

Its co-founders Jack Scott and Alex Wright launched the business in 2017, with a helping hand from a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp. Three years on, they now stock in 5,000 UK stores, almost 2,000 European stores and they’ve secured more investment from their latest fundraising round and are ready to scale up even further.

The loan helped them to work on much-needed research and development, supporting them to kickstart the business.

Jack said: “It has been brilliant. It gave us the opportunity to have a bit of capital to start the process. It made us accountable to our business plan and gave us the structure to take it all forward.”

Dash Water is now stocked in Sainsbury’s, Boots, BP Garages and Ocado while also available at Amazon, on British Airways flights and in food outlets like Zizzi, EAT and All Bar One.

With up to 40% of the fruit and veg grown in the UK not reaching our plates, Jack believes Dash Water’s clear purpose has helped doors to open.

“I think it’s a good conversation starter,” he said. “It can be tricky because buyers are still going to look for products that have a track record of selling. They still need to be able to shift products from the shelves.

“The key is building up a good relationship with the right person and being able to tell your story. We found success by bring on the buyers along our journey, making them feel part of our growth which in turn more like to list the product."

Both Jack and Alex come from farming backgrounds, seeing first-hand just how much produce is wasted. It was this experience that spurred Jack on to launching Dash.

He added: “I grew up on an arable farm in Shropshire and remember having to grade potatoes. The good ones went off to the chip manufacturer we worked with but others were wasted or turned into animal feed. That didn’t sit right with me so I have always wanted to do something about food waste.

“And for too long people have been drinking sugary drinks or drinks with sweetener in. We have an opportunity to really shake up the soft drinks industry now. It’s very exciting.”

To follow in Jack and Alex’s footsteps, take part in our Doing Business With Big Business workshop, which provides start-up founders with everything they need to know about working with big retailers.