Looking Back, Then Forward!

We at Whol-E want to wish our Hom-Es a Happy New Year! We hope that you had a year full of good times and good health. More importantly, we hope you spent your time doing meaningful things with meaningful people.

Reflection is a key part of progression. One of the special parts of welcoming the new year is remembering positive moments from the past 12 months.  Here are some of our favorite Whol-E moments of 2013:

1. The Wheatsville south lamar grand opening party

2. Raising over $2,500 for our charity, A Glimmer of Hope

3. Playing water pong with Austinites at our Wheatsville demos

4. Spontaneously handing out bottles of Whol-E to customers in JuiceLand’s long line on Lake Austin Blvd

5. Crusin’ on the lake with our friends with a bottle of Whol-E in hand

We are fueled by the thought that our Home-Es are supporting a charitable product that truly benefits their health. Throughout 2013, we have done our best to acknowledge all of the friendships and relationships we have made along the way. We are very excited to touch the lives of those in Ethiopia who are in dire need of clean drinking water. As many of you may know, we have been working with an Austin based charity, A Glimmer of Hope, to bring clean drinking water to those in need. We raised just over $2,500 in our effort to build a well, but there is still much work to be done to make our campaign goal into a reality for these deserving people. Here’s the link to our campaign:

With that said, here are Whol-E Water’s goals for 2014:

1. Complete our fundraiser with a Glimmer of Hope and bring clean water where it’s scarce and needed

2. Continue to provide the good people of Austin with Whol-E Water

3. Partner with more Austin companies to bring Whol-E Water to special events

Because of the support form our local vendors, family and friends, we’ve been able to continue our mission of providing the good people of Austin, TX with a quality product. These vendors, family and friends, are just as much a part of the Whol-E team as the Whol-E founders themselves. Just know that we do all of this to better your lives and the lives of those who are less fortunate.


The Whol-E Design

The Whol-E team wants you to know a little bit more about the roots behind the design of our logo that you see on every Whol-E Bottle. From the start, we at Whol-E acknowledged the fact that our water is a very elegant product. It is made up of essential minerals and purified water that combine to make a stellar cocktail of health and happiness. So, the challenge we faced early on was creating a bottle that mirrors the grace and sophistication of our water. With the vision of the Whol-E founders and the creative execution of Ky Lewis (, a gifted freelance graphic designer out of Dallas, TX, the Whol-E Water design was born.

First let’s talk about the name, Whol-E Water. Despite what some may think of our name, phonetically equivalent to “holy water,” it is not officially “blessed” and bears no direct correlation to Christianity. Rather, we spell it Whol-E to describe the water’s holistic properties–benefitting both the mind and the body. In addition, we separate the “E” not only to stress the pronunciation of our product, but also to highlight the health properties that our water contains–energy, electrolyte balance, endurance, etc. Some customers pronounce the name Whole Water, which is completely fine as this isn’t an inaccurate name for our product.

Now, have you ever wondered why the Whol-E logo features a hexagon? This is because Whol-E Water is made up of ultra pure, highly organized water that forms hexagonal clusters. There are places in nature where you can find water with similar make-up. Take a snowflake, for example: when looked at very closely, you will notice that the body of the snowflake is comprised of many hexagonal shapes. The health benefit of such molecular structure in water is its ability to penetrate human tissue at a much faster rate than “ordinary” waters. This efficiency leads to the rapid hydration and nutrient absorption that our Hom-Es experience after each sip.

Lastly, we slap our logo on the side of our bottle, “FEEL GOOD DO GOOD.” We believe this is one of the most important aspects of our design message. Throughout our journey, we’ve realized that it’s difficult to inform our customers about the health properties of water. Alkalinity, hexagonal water and chelated minerals must sound like a foreign language to most people. It’s easier to explain that we give back a portion of our profits to nonprofits (such as Austin-based Glimmer of Hope) that provide clean water in impoverished nations. So we were able to sum up our product in four simple words, “FEEL GOOD DO GOOD,” describing both our health and charitable aspects. So for all you readers out there, you should know that you’re not only getting a premium water product that has countless health benefits, but you’re also supporting a business that gives back to charities.

Whol-E Water’s Start (Article from the Austin American Statesman)

Their senior year at Baylor University, Sam O’Brien’s and Kolton Lye’s apartment was filled with bottled water.

“We had to make a pathway to our kitchen and our living room,” Lye said.

“Cases were literally lining the walls,” O’Brien added.

Now, they’re able to keep the product for their new business, Whol-E Water, in a warehouse. The two recent college grads have begun selling alkaline water while donating part of their proceeds to a local charity. Now all they have to do is explain to people what it is they’re selling.

O’Brien and Lye have moved back to Austin to be near to their West Lake Hills families as well as their customers. The two Westlake graduates have been friends since kindergarten, played together on Westlake High School’s varsity soccer team, started a neighborhood business together when they were in high school, then roomed together in college.

As luck would have it, they also got into Baylor’s coveted entrepreneurial class Accelerated Ventures together.

The class gives students $5,000 seed money and the guidance to start their own business. O’Brien and Lye teamed up with finance student Todd Leitgeb, who now works as the company’s CFO out of Houston, and decided to start Whol-E Water (pronounced “holy” water).

A portion of their proceeds will go to the Austin-based charity A Glimmer of Hope, which brings clean water, education, health care facilities and loans to Ethiopia. Through fundraisers where O’Brien and Lye also market Whol-E Water products, they have raised $2,500 for the charity so far, they said. Their goal is $3,500, which will allow them to fund a tap for a well in the Gonok region of Ethiopia to bring water to a community.

Philip Berber, who co-founded A Glimmer of Hope with his wife, Donna, was O’Brien’s soccer coach when he was young. A Glimmer of Hope puts 100 percent of all donations into their programs in Ethiopia and does not fundraise for operating costs.

As athletes — Lye is a former Baylor University football placekicker — the students were interested in creating and marketing a drink that would be hydrating and replenishing. After doing some research, they settled on alkaline water.

“Health water that’s also charitable is perfect for an Austin market,” O’Brien said.

When a liquid is alkaline, that means it’s not acidic. On a pH scale, one end is acidic and the other end is alkaline. Anything from stress, to exercise, to eating certain foods can minimally make the body’s pH more acidic.

“All the good foods are acidic,” Lye said.

The idea of balancing one’s pH for health reasons originated in Asia, though products are now being introduced into the Western market. Research suggests that the best way to lower the body’s pH is by drinking high alkaline water, O’Brien said. Whol-E water has a pH of 9.4, compared to other brands which can be acidic.

“It helps your body reach equilibrium. … That’s how we fight disease and infection the best,” O’Brien said.

Alkaline water isn’t sold in many Texas stores. This meant there’d be little competition, but the scarcity made production difficult for three college students with limited money and resources, they said. They eventually found a company in California that could sell them the minerals they wanted to raise their water’s pH — calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and phosphorus — and a company in Dallas that could mix the minerals into water and package the water.

They started out with 2,400 bottles. A couple months ago, they ordered a truck-full: 18,000 bottles.

Whol-E water is stocked in 23 locations, including CrossFit Central, Westlake Crossfit, Lola Savannah, Wheatsville Co-Op, all JuiceLand locations, Royal Blue grocery, Thom’s Market and The Co-op Market on Guadalupe Street.

O’Brien and Lye said they have been interested in entrepreneurship from a young age. They started a business in high school called Westlake Express. They laugh as they remember the Westlake Express, because it began as a transportation service and later became the name they used to ask anyone in West Lake Hills if there was any work that could be done.

“Call us if you need something done,” Lye said, recalling their pitch. “If you pay us, we’ll do it.”

O’Brien said he remembers installing a chandelier and helping a band set up. Their friend, Bailey Hinners – who made a lot of the Whol-E water deliveries this summer – once gave actor Dennis Quaid a ride while in high school.

O’Brien and Lye said they’re excited about their newest business venture. Although their initial checks to A Glimmer of Hope will be small as long as their profit margins are small, and the business partners are still making the deliveries themselves out of their own cars, they’re optimistic about their future.

“We’re emulating how a lot of other local brands have started,” O’Brien said.