Justin Seidenfeld '09 and Robert Barnett '09 formulated the business plan for FreedWater, Inc. during their college days. The idea behind the business is that water should be free, so let advertisers pay for it. Seidenfeld and Phillip Rosenberg '09 launched the company last summer. Instead of our bottles bearing Aquafina and Poland Spring labels, we'll soon (hopefully) be guzzling from plastic wrapped in an eclectic mix of advertisements funding our drinking habits.
While I carry my Fiji water bottles like I would a Coach purse, I can never fully suppress that twinge of embarrassment that comes along with humoring price tags that far exceed an item's actual worth. While I might cling more tightly to my (hypothetical) Coach, I'd rather be a walking billboard for random advertisers rather than Dasani. Thanks to Seidenfeld and Barnett, water encapsulated in plastic may soon be free on campus!
"What we are trying to do is no less than revolutionize bottled water and advertising in the United States. We're combining two of the most important industries in the country: advertising and beverage distribution," Barnett said. "This is the final frontier of advertising."
Seidenfeld explained that FreedWater faces some challenges getting started on campus. "We are not allowed to market it competing with Dasani. Trying to get involved with campus events without competing with the University policies has been difficult," he said.
FreedWater will be distributing free water at Homecoming next week and will be at other campus events, but Barnett said he is unsure the company will be able to compete with the University's anti-free water policies. "The University is basically kowtowing to corporate America and stifling the creativity and entrepreneurship of their alumni," he said.
But FreedWater has come a long way since Seidenfeld and Barnett first entered their idea into business proposal contests on campus. "This is an idea that sprang out of entrepreneurship at Princeton and now we're poised to make major inroads into the Princeton community and into the U.S. at large," Barnett said. He added, "Speaking as an unemployed alumnus who is ill able to afford bottled water, I would love to be able to have free drinking water."
FreedWater also plans to support recycling initiatives on campus. They plan to make recycling an easy opportunity at social events such as tailgates and Lawnparties.
Today in Frist, Seidenfeld presented me with my very own bottle of Freedwater for only a small fee: A handshake and encouraging smile. And two dollars. Just kidding.