A Somerville Startup Is Making Healthy, Eco-Friendly Beverage Dispensers
If Sean Grundy has his way, the classic office water cooler is about to get a high-tech update.
Grundy is the cofounder and CEO of Somerville-based Bevi, a recently launched startup making water dispensers. But if you’re picturing the big plastic jug found in most offices, think again. Bevi machines mix up purified still and sparkling beverages—either plain or in flavors like orange mango and pomegranate—with the press of a button on its touchscreen, aiming to simultaneously cut down on waste and improve employees’ health.
“Our main motivation was cutting out the waste associated with plastic bottles, both from the actual manufacturing of bottles, and the fact that most of them end up in landfills as well as just the trucking of full beverage bottles,” Grundy says. “The health aspect really came later.”
It’s perhaps no surprise that eco-friendliness was first in Grundy’s mind. He worked in environmental conservation before attending MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and says he always knew he would work in that arena. “For me, I honestly need to do something with an environmental mission,” he says. “Otherwise I don’t think I’d work this hard.”
Health may have been a secondary consideration for Grundy and his cofounders, but it’s a high priority now. The flavor shots in Bevi’s machines use no artificial ingredients and are often organic, and Grundy says a vitamin shot option is forthcoming. “Basically, you’ll be able to get your drink and add a daily dose of vitamin C to it, just by hitting one button on a touchscreen,” he says.
Bevi machines are currently operating in about 15 Boston-area offices, and Grundy says that the company’s first professional-scale production run will go forward in June, supporting an eventual expansion outside Boston. (To make this happen, the company recently raised $1.56 million from investors.)
The machines vary in cost depending on an office’s size, but a typical system costs anywhere from $250 to $400 per month for unlimited use. Grundy notes that traditional water coolers vary widely in price—anywhere from $50 to $500 a month—since costs are based on consumption, so “our prices are much more predictable.”
The company may still be in its early stages, but Grundy says initial feedback has been encouraging. “People love the variety, they love the fact that there are a lot of healthy options,” he says, “and then at the same time you get to be environmental.”