William Yau an ex seafood wholesaler and a licensed pilot, Alex Chen an RMIT graduate who started his own advertising agency at the age of 21, Caleb Ha an RMIT graduate who runs a charity and Hwi So an RMIT graduate specialising in guerilla marketing, all from Melbourne, were tired of paying ridiculous amounts of money for water. So they teamed up to create Sirene Water…to make bottled water free.
There’s no other business in Australia that is doing what we’re doing, so we have to prove ourselves and put in that extra mile to convince our clients that we’re an idea that works.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
We were tired of paying ridiculous amounts of money for water. A commodity we think is a fundamental human right, and should be free. We looked at the pocket tissue marketing industry in japan and thought to bring that idea here. What they do in Japan is hand out free pocket tissues at subway stations. We realized that pocket tissues might not be as receptive in Australia so we thought what is something everybody needs – water.
How do you make money?
We offer advertising space on our bottles, sponsoring clients can promote their message on our bottles. This is our main revenue stream.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
We’re working on establishing permanent distribution channels around train stations and universities. We’re also proud to be sponsoring the Herald Sun Career Expo, which is happening in August this year at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. We’re also looking at working with a handful of charities, co-sponsoring events, etc. in the next three months which is very exciting. We have the great Melbourne swim coming up early next year which is run in conjunction with NAB and STREAT. We’re also sponsoring a charity futsal tournament to help raise funds to help impoverished kids in Cambodia and help improve their education system.
How do you make ideas happen?
First we weigh up whether or not the idea is worth pursuing. If it is, we break the idea down into an action plan. A very thorough action plan with immediate tasks that correlate to long-term goals. And the key is to follow through with the plans and take action.
What does your typical day look like?
Our typical day looks quite hectic, although we try and keep calm at most times. We have a very big team of interns that help us out on rotating days. Our office is a home office with two divisions: the sales room and the main room. The sales room is very loud, sales targets on the walls and people talking on the phone most of the time. The main room is quiet the opposite, background music, green tea and creative ideas on the walls.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business in Australia?
Initially we had a lot of issues trying to get a supplier to work with us. Since we’re a startup, many see us as young and inexperienced and incompetent. We also don’t have the most money to work with. This was a major hurdle for us at the start but being persistent paid off. I guess the main challenge for us is that fact that many organizations overlook our expertise, as we’re young. Also, there’s no other business in Australia that is doing what we’re doing, so we have to prove ourselves and put in that extra mile to convince our clients that we’re an idea that works.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is key.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
Thank You Water is doing amazing things here in Australia
What about internationally?
We think Bling water is ridiculously amazing. A bit or ironic sarcasm there but hey, if you can sell a bottle of water for $480 – our hats go off to you.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
A huge role. But at the end of the day, the consumers contribute to make all the difference.
Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity by clicking the button below. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?
This month, Sirene Water is focussing on homelessness as part of our effort to educate Australians about our social responsibility. So we’d like to ask your readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to support Kids Under Cover who help vulnerable young people between the ages of 12 and 25 who are either already homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
We’re always looking for people to help. People who share our common values and believe in what we’re trying to achieve. We’re also trying to work out the funding side of things at the moment; we’re definitely open to it. But most importantly, we’re pro-actively looking for charities to work with.
Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.
Are you interested in helping out with Sirene Water? If so, shoot us an email at [email protected]
We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?
Sure. We’ll throw in a couple bottles of water