Co-founding a drinks brand certainly wasn’t part of the plan, but we’ve come a long way since starting out.
A decade ago our co-founders, Nick and Toby, set out to build AUFI – a company that connects brands with best-in-class creative agencies – and in the process of doing so, found two invaluable bi-products. 1) a network of contacts who are exceptional at what they do, and 2) access to a unique source of investment dealflow. The combination of which brings us to our latest twist. Say hello to AUFI Ventures – an all new playing field, where we invest in the people and ideas we love.
Using our ever-growing book of contacts and first-hand knowledge, we’ve now backed thirty new businesses – helping steer, advise and support on the myriad of challenges associated with taking an idea from launch to scale. Typically, these companies are in the early stages, but with fully-baked, planned out trajectories – and they’re looking to us to help stoke up the vision. This time around though, things feel different, as we help incubate an AUFI Ventures business from seed.
And so, we couldn’t be happier to present Plink!, co-founded by us lot at AUFI and our good friends Max Luthy and Luke Montgomery Smith. Hellbent on disrupting the drink industry to reduce its environmental impact, we sat down with Max to talk about all things Plink! and beyond.
- Cecilia DinwoodieTell us about Plink!, first and foremost. What inspired the idea?
Max LuthyI spent a decade advising companies on what the future held, and it was clear that every single sector was due a rethink in terms of the environmental impact of their products or services. It dawned on me that all my favourite drink companies were still packing and distributing their products the same way they were half a century ago… and that’s when I thought of Plink!. It was a middle-of-the-night realisation, no doubt inspired by companies like Lush and Blueland, to create a bathbomb you can drink. No more shipping around water!
“It was a middle-of-the-night realisation: create a bathbomb you can drink.”Max Luthy, Co-founder of Plink!
- CDWhat came next? How did you take things from ideation to reality?
MLIt took several years of my good friends, Nick and Toby, telling me to start the business – but I only committed to it when they introduced me to Luke, our co-founder. He’s got the hands-on experience and an award-winning palette to solve any problem. He likes to say “anything is possible.” When AUFI then helped connect us to their investor network and simultaneously brought Made Thought into the mix, we were off to the races.
- CDWhy should the whole world switch to Plink! right now?
MLBecause it’s delicious! That’s the personal reason to Plink! But then there’s the ‘save the world’ reason, too. We can’t deny the impact of grab-and-go consumerism on our surrounding environment – the combination of climate change and pollution is too hard to ignore. By choosing Plink! over a canned drink, you’re reducing your personal carbon footprint.
- CDGot any stats to back that?
MLTrucking a can of soda has 73 times the CO2 emissions of shipping a Plink! tablet – and, similarly, we use 1% of the packaging material per serving. If you make this a daily change in your household or office, that’s a huge reduction in emissions and pollution.
“We don’t have time to do slightly less wrong, year-on-year. We need to make massive adjustments now.”Max Luthy
- CDIf you could slide a note into Coca-Cola’s DMs, what would you say?
MLSure, keep up the incremental improvements (reducing the use of virgin plastic, using renewable energy, attaching plastic caps to the bottles, etc) – but also, have the courage to push for systems-level, wholesale change. We don’t have time to do slightly less wrong, year-on-year. We need massive adjustments, now – from how we manufacture, distribute and consume drinks, to how we deal with the resulting waste.
“When AUFI then helped connect us to their investor network and simultaneously brought Made Thought into the mix, we were off to the races.”Max Luthy
- CDI love how even your merch is waste-free, since you’re using old repurposed Coca-Cola tees from the ‘90s. How and where did you find them?
MLWe can’t reveal our sources! But we’re already onto our next line of Re-Plinked goods… Don’t worry, Coke, we’ve moved onto another brand.
- CDWho came up with the ‘melt taste buds, not icecaps’ line?
MLNick and I came up with the line while riffing one afternoon (we have no shortage of one liners!), then Studio Lowrie came up with the design. I love how, while the design is loudly overlaying the bear graphic, it still gives the bears enough room to pop. A delicate balance.
- CDI want one! Are there any left?
MLThey were live on our Depop, but they sold out faster than we expected. There may be a followup drop of one or two more bears, though… Your best bet is to go to drinkplink.com and enter your email. Subscribers are the first to know!
“The mindset shift is a big one. No more shipping around water!”Max Luthy
- CDWhat’s next on the agenda?
MLWe’re pumped to roll out Plink! into offices across the US, and we’re currently trialling international offices too, so if you want to get Plink! in your workplace, reach out. You get happy, healthy, hydrated employees while making a meaningful reduction to your organisation’s carbon footprint and landfill. On top of that, we have new flavours in development, as well as a caffeinated range in the pipeline – requested by some of our early customers and my wife. And, well, our long term bucket list is pretty extensive actually... We want Plink! to be available at every airport, bodega and supermarket, and for store drinks aisles to shrink down to 10% of their current footprint. The mindset shift is the big one. Once it’s commonly understood that we should no longer be paying big companies to truck around water when it’s already on our doorsteps, we will be very, very happy.