Shaking Up the Sports Drink Market

at_wimbledon-crDrink to this: the Wimbledon Vegan Strawberry & Cream Smoothie made with Wahta pure maple water. As some of the world’s best tennis players have discovered, drinking Wahta is a great way to rehydrate after a work-out. Here’s the recipe:

wahta_Wimbledon_smoothie_recipe

Blend these ingredients and raise a glass to Javad Shakooh and to the health benefits of Wahta. Marketed by Pure Canada, a company acquired by Javad through the Montreal Central office of Sunbelt Business Brokers, Wahta pure maple water contains half the sugar and half the calories of coconut water. It’s now poised to replace coconut water—and other sports drinks—as the rehydration drink of choice.

As a product, Wahta pure maple water was going nowhere until Gonzalo Suarez, vice president of business development at Sunbelt Business Brokers in Montreal Central, linked Javad to the company that owned the trademark.

One Business Leads to Another

Javad Shakooh-Wahta maple waterAs an engineer in Iran, Javad had owned a successful construction company. In 2010, a couple of years after arriving in Canada, he and a partner started a retail business in Montreal. When it came time to make a change, he sold his shares and began looking for another business.

An Internet search turned up an interesting franchise business brokered by Gonzalo. However, the deal fell through. Gonzalo felt so badly that he continued searching for another suitable business. The result was the trademark for Wahta. Negotiations started in October 2014 and were finalized in December 2014. During that time, Javad set up Pure Canada.

Relationships Count

“Gonzalo exhibits two qualities that are important to me,” Javad says. “He’s honest and respectful. Gonzalo treats me like a human, not just a client. He’s not pushy.”

Javad continues, “Any feedback from Gonzalo was always totally correct. He presented the business right,” Javad exclaims.

The Hard Work Begins

Wahta is packed with the healthy qualities and benefits that sports drinkers demand:

  • No additives:       100% pure and vegan
  • Certified NAPSI (natural, authentic, pure, sterile, integral) under the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers
  • Naturally packed with electrolytes to help replenish an athlete’s body
  • A crisp, refreshing taste with far fewer calories than coconut water, soft drinks, and other hydrating sports drinks

Wahta is a good news story: a totally natural product in an environmentally sustainable industry.

As most maple sap is gathered from existing forests, there is certainly merit to the sustainability claim—carbon sequestration, soil enhancement, clean water, wildlife habitat, beauty, etc. Plus, with more forests becoming economically viable enterprises, it’s less likely that they will be bulldozed to build housing developments.[1]

Because “the Canadian maple syrup industry generates 80% of the world’s pure maple syrup and is the leading global producer of maple syrup and related products,”[2] Wahta has a unique position in the global marketplace.

Moving the Product to Market

The product was begging to move more aggressively into the marketplace. Javad’s first act was to increase the impact of the website at drinkwahta.com so that it could form a basis for his marketing efforts. While more needs to be done with the site, it’s a solid improvement over the previous version.

Because the product was already available in Canada, Javad’s second task was to identify overseas markets and to pursue them. His strategy was to capitalize on the fact that Canada projects a positive image as a source of natural products.

First, he contacted the trade commissioners of countries that represented potential markets. Then he began the process of making pitches, sending e-mails, and placing phone calls. Success so far: Wahta is now sold in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, Australia, and a number of other countries with more being added.

Advice on Buying a Business

Javad feels that having an engineering degree or any other formal education is a good foundation for going into business. “It’s easy to buy a business, but it’s hard to handle one,” says Javad: “Each business comes with its own issues.” Javad cautions, “You have to accept risk and take a gamble. Taking over a business isn’t an easy job.” He adds, “And be generous and respectful with everyone you do business with.”

Buying a business is serious business. That’s why Sunbelt Business Brokers can help you to get the best possible start. Backed with the experience of helping people like Javad, a Sunbelt business broker is the rational voice in your decision to buy a business.

[1] Barth, Brian. “Move Over Coconut, Maple Water Is Here.” Modern Farmer, March 25, 2015.

[2] Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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