Business ideas can spring from unlikely scenarios, with many coming from everyday moments. Kirpal Bharaj's personal experience led him from business draft, to startup success story.
When Kirpal Bharaj found himself so dehydrated he couldn't give blood, he naturally turned to drinking more water, but often via single-use plastic bottles bought from shops and supermarkets.
Looking for a reusable solution, he found none suitable for him and his lifestyle. So, he did something about it.
He launched Stay Sixty - selling high-quality, reusable and stylish stainless steel water bottles - with brother Raj in 2018.
In the UK alone, we use almost 40 million plastic bottles every day, with a huge proportion not being recycled, filling up our oceans and landfill sites.
Kirpal said: "I researched single-use plastics and found all the statistics that you hear about today. I also found out that you shouldn't reuse plastic water bottles bought from shops, but I couldn't find any bottles that I really liked.
"I like things to be designed well and appreciate a minimal aesthetic. A lot of the bottles on the market were poorly made and I found that most bottles on the market were not really aimed at men. The colour palette wasn't right for me, and I didn't want a flamingo or avocado on my bottle.
"There are a lot of reusable bottles on the market, but I'd say about 90% of them are not designed. Most are bought off the shelf.
"We have developed Stay Sixty bottles from the ground up, taking our time to research, design and develop what we think is a better reusable. Thankfully, our new range was nominated for the Dezeen Awards Best Product Design 2019 before it had hit the shelves."
With the amount of bottled water being sold in the UK doubling over the last 15 years, the industry shows no signs of halting. And while, currently, sustainability is the buzzword around global campaigns to help the environment, Kirpal believes a change is coming.
He added: "There seems to be a slight backlash to brands 'greenwashing' consumers - sustainability is almost becoming a dirty word. Conscious consumerism seems to be the next thing, which is great to see - people considering their purchases more and understanding the story behind a brand.
"A number of brands in our market focus on the environmental impact of single-use plastics - but consumers are now more aware than ever of the impact these products and materials are having on our planet. We try to focus on our design and the product being technically better. If you have a better product, more people will want to use it regularly. In turn, this reduces the temptation to fall back on single-use plastics as people genuinely want to buy and use a reusable alternative."
Soon after launching Stay Sixty, the brothers were approached by the producers of Dragons' Den to appear on the show. Having turned down the opportunity twice, the pair eventually agreed to appear on the show and pitch to would-be investors.
"We really enjoyed pitching," Kirpal said. "We had practiced, practiced, practiced. We received an offer from Touker Suleyman for a third of our business. It was a tough decision and we had to go to 'the wall' twice to discuss it, but, in the end, a third of the business was just too much to give away when we had invested so much time in the business ourselves to get us to a quality product. We don't regret the decision and are really thankful for the opportunity and offer."
Kirpal was a speaker at one of our StepUp events aimed at helping founders start and scale their new businesses. He is keen to pass on his knowledge to others, adding: "When launching a brand, define your brand purpose and be distinct - but do it with authenticity."
Our popular StepUp programme is back for October - and this time, it's digital. This 4-day accelerator is the crash course for entrepreneurs looking to scale their startups. Find out more and apply today.