Is there anything more inspiring than a founder who builds a business to solve a global problem?

Holly Branson with Alex Wright - co-founder of DASH Water founder
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 10 May 2023

All businesses should be built to solve a problem. One shining example of this is DASH Water, which was built to tackle food waste and challenge the stronghold of sugary drinks on the market. Given 30% of fruit and vegetables in the UK end up in landfill, it’s an important issue to take on.

You’ve probably seen DASH’s sleekly branded seltzer cans on the supermarket shelves, but you might not know the company was built from a desire to celebrate wonky fruit and vegetables, support local farmers and offer a sugar-free and sweetener-free fizzy drink. DASH launched in 2017 after receiving a Virgin StartUp loan, and is now stocked in over 10,000 stores including Starbucks, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. They have also entered the Australian market too! As a certified B Corp that is also the industry’s market leader – DASH is a case study in how purpose can drive profit, and why all businesses should be built to solve problems.

As one of Virgin StartUp’s most successful start-ups, I was thrilled to sit down with the company’s co-founder, Alex Wright, to hear more about their purpose-driven, problem-solving business model. As Alex said to me: “Don’t be afraid to put your purpose front and centre.” Such good advice that I wholeheartedly agree with, and there’s plenty more insight in our interview below.

Holly Branson chats to Alex Wright from DASH Water

It was particularly inspiring to hear just how committed DASH is to scaling sustainably. Despite a global expansion and being stocked in almost every major UK supermarket, sustainability still sits at the heart of everything they do. Alex and his co-founder Jack both come from farming backgrounds, so they have gone above and beyond to uphold sustainable agriculture, become carbon neutral, support local farmers, fight food waste, and ditch plastic – all of which is solidified in their B Corp status.

It was also wonderful to hear Alex speak so passionately about the importance of mentorship, after being mentored by the wonderful Ben Keene at Virgin StartUp. Ben encouraged Alex and Jack to break away from perfectionism and adopt a lean start-up model. Sometimes you’ve got to get the product out there - test it, tweak it and develop it as you go. 

Virgin StartUp digital MeetUp - Holly Branson, Andy Fishburn and Ben Keene share a screen to discuss entrepreneurship
Image from Virgin StartUp

Thank you so much for joining me Alex, and for showing businesses everywhere that purpose drives profit, and you can scale fast without compromising on your values.

DASH is also launching an exciting new flavour this week, so keep your eyes peeled on the shelves! If you want to learn more, Alex is joining Virgin StartUp’s first ChangeMakers event on 17 May to discuss what it takes to start-up with purpose. Sign up to join the London event here, or register for the livestream here.