Entrepreneurs

How an entrepreneur turned serendipity into an investment from Beyonce

A good entrepreneur has to think creatively and quickly, especially when an unprecedented opportunity presents itself. That's the lesson Jody Levy learned as co-founder and creative director of beverage company WTRMLN WTR.

On Dec. 13, 2013, the abstract artist launched WTRMLN WTR, a start-up that turns bruised or misshaped watermelons into cold-pressed juice.

A few hours after the product launch, Beyonce released her track "Drunk in Love," in which she sings "I've been drinking watermelon."

Jody Levy, co-founder and creative director of beverage company WTRMLN WTR.
Source: WTRMLN WTR
Jody Levy, co-founder and creative director of beverage company WTRMLN WTR.

Levy decided to jump on the opportunity.

"We made sure her office was stocked," Levy said. She sent Beyonce boxes of the pink drink for months and leveraged the connections her company's head of marketing, Jeff Rubenstein, had to get a meeting with Beyonce and eventually land an investment from her.

After turning serendipity into business, the start-up found itself in the fast lane to success.

The watermelon drink is now in stores nationwide, including Whole Foods Market, Costco and Kroger. Levy did not disclose the amount of revenue or sales. She also did not disclose the amount Beyonce has invested in the company, but an SEC filing from last year shows WTRMLN WTR's parent company aims to raise $8 million.

"Beyonce is involved in WTRMLN WTR because it's the right balance of inspiring people and doing good, and it has some sex appeal to it," the 37-year-old entrepreneur said.

The key to securing celebrity partnerships and endorsements is pursuing those with similar goals as your company, Levy said.

"People who are influencers are looking for brands to partner with for the same reason the brands are looking for the influencers. In both cases, people want to use their voices to share stories and make change," she said.

Resist the urge to reach out to everyone, she added.

"Be selective about who your partners and investors are. Partner with people and bring people into your community that are going to be active and believe in what you're doing and why you're doing it," she said.

"The path of entrepreneurial business is very similar to that of an artist." -Jody Levy, WTRMLN WTR co-founder and creative director

Levy said that the start-up's goals aligned with Beyonce's, a crucial part of securing her investment.

"Supporting American growers, supporting family-owned businesses, supporting this philosophy of how we do things and empowering people to be the best versions of themselves. ... It was a deep sense of humble gratitude to get [Beyonce's] recognition by investing in this," Levy said.

Approximately 30 to 40 percent of the nation's food supply ends up in the garbage, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Included in this are millions of pounds of slightly bruised or scratched watermelons, which many consumers don't buy.

For this start-up, the old adage "one man's trash is another man's treasure" couldn't have been more pertinent.

"We are all brought up in a society of perfection. And I happen to eat organic fruits and vegetables, so I understand sometimes they are ugly and imperfect, which makes me trust them more. But with watermelon, they are so heavy and the retailer knows that if someone is going to take an 8- to 12-pound watermelon, they want it to look beautiful," Levy said.

"The path of entrepreneurial business is very similar to that of an artist. How do you create something that cuts through the clutter, that solves problems, that makes our day-to-day lives better?" Levy said.