Liquid Death, a water brand that began in 2018 with a funny video to first test the concept, has grown deadly serious about its growth prospects. The L.A.-based startup, which sells canned mountain water from the Alps that will “murder your thirst,” landed $75 million in Series C funding led by the startup studio Science Venture, which helped launch the company and now owns a “strong minority” position.
Liquid Death’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Cessario, a West Coast agency creative-turned-entrepreneur, about the company’s growth. Seemingly, there is a lot to boast about. According to Cessario, Liquid Death is now carried in more than 29,000 locations throughout the U.S. including Whole Foods, Target, Safeway, and 7-Eleven stores, and revenue reached nearly $45 million last year, up from $3 million in 2019 when the company sold its first can.
He thinks there is a lot of room to grow from here, including through flavored waters that Liquid Death is beginning to roll out with names that suit the brand’s punk-metal ethos. Its first three products? Berry It Alive, Severed Lime, and Mango Chainsaw.
Cessario has long credited the firm’s growth with its grimly funny phrasing, along with its packaging, arguing that aluminum is more recyclable than plastic (though, of course, no single-use container is great for the environment). Still, he’s particularly proud of Liquid Death’s organic growth strategy, one that has enabled the outfit to compete and even thrive in a world rife with other water brands. Indeed, asked how much Liquid Death spends on marketing compared with other beverage brands, Cessario insisted there is no comparison.
“I don’t know what other water brands spend, but we’re not going to have Coca-Cola or Pepsi-like budgets to spend. We don’t have $300 million to throw at something, so every piece of marketing that we make has to be interesting or entertaining so that people organically spread it.”
The fast growth has increased how much Liquid Death is worth and the amount of money it has been able to raise over time from investors. TechCrunch noted the current $75 million funding round valued the company at $525 million. Less than a year ago, Liquid Death was valued at $165 million, PitchBook reported. The startup has raised $125 million altogether.
In total there are 25 investors. Some of Liquid Death's investors are Dollar Shave Club’s founder and CEO, Michael Dubin, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Tony Hawk, Steve Aoki, etc.
At the same time, traditional water brands also have thrived simply by touting their packaging. Vita Coco packages its brand Ever & Ever in aluminum bottles, while PepsiCo has dabbled with the metal for some of its Aquafina products. Small brands such as Boxed Water is Better to have turned to paper for their packaging.
Liquid Death also launched its first limited-edition NFT collection of 6,666 unique severed heads. The NFT collection is available to mint for 0.0666 ETH. In addition to owning a very cool artwork designed by Will Carsola, each NFT holder will get several perks. Access to a private Discord community, virtual events, NFT-branded merch drops, and other real-life perks. In addition, buyers of multiple NFTs get the chance to be featured in a Liquid Death commercial. Furthermore, a portion of the proceeds will go to non-profits to fight plastic pollution and distribute clean drinking water.
By releasing NFTs, Liquid Death takes a page out of the book of other beverage brands. Recently, brands such as Bottup, Dalmore Whisky, and Ron Carúpano have all released NFTs. Let's see if Liquid Death can replace Nestle and Coke in Future.