Hydrant raises $5.7 million Series A to help consumers hydrate faster

Eight glasses of water a day. That’s the old recommendation you and I have heard growing up. And while we all know the importance of hydration to our health, some methods of hydration are more efficient than others. At least, that’s the premise that Hydrant was built on.

The company, a wellness brand that launched out of New York in 2018, has today announced the close of a $5.7 million Series A financing to grow wellness business. The round was led by Coefficient Capital, with participation from Rx3 Ventures. This brings total funding to $8.8 million for the company, who was previously backed by Soma Capital, Sixers Innovation Lab, as well as several angels and other funds.

Hydrant offers two products: Rapid Hydration and Rapid Hydration + Caffeine. They come in powder form, in packets, and are to be added to water.

The idea is that water obviously hydrates the human body on its own, but can take some time to do so, slowing getting absorbed as it travels most of the way through the digestive system before feeding the most significant portion of that water into the blood stream to nourish other organs, muscles, etc.

Other hydration products on the market, according to founders John Sherwin and Jai Jung Kim, were either too sugary, tasted bad from artificial flavoring or coloring, or didn’t offer the right mix of electrolytes to rapidly hydrate the body.

That’s where Hydrant comes in. The product was designed with a specific ratio of electrolytes and a small bit of sugar to speed up the absorption of water in the digestive system. Sherwin, cofounder at Hydrant, studied at Oxford and graduated with a BA in biological sciences before Hydrant. With the right mix of electrolytes and sugar molecules — in Hydrant’s case, those come from a bit of powdered fruit juice — the body shortcuts water’s usual absorption rate in the body.

A mechanism in the small intestine, called the sodium glucose co-transport mechanism, detects the presence of glucose molecules alongside sodium molecules. When the body detects that combination in a certain ration, it creates a ‘pump’, said Sherwin (describing his air quotes) that pushes those molecules into the bloodstream. The water follows those sodium molecules into the bloodstream as well, hydrating the body faster than with your average glass of water.

Alongside selling the product on its own website, Hydrant also has retail partnerships with Whole Foods and sells via Amazon, with more retail partnerships in the works.

The company says that the pandemic has slowed its conversations with retail partners, but that the company is reallocating its resources to focus on its own ecommerce channel. Retail is a profitable channel for Hydrant. The founders said that the company works hard to focus on retail partners that fit with the brand and maximize profitability.

All Hydrant manufacturing is done in the U.S.

Hydrant offers both a subscription and an a la carte option. Folks can buy a 30-pack of the Rapid Hydration mix for $37.50, and the caffeinated hydration mix for $43.75. People who buy as a subscription get a 20 percent discount from that. Subscription accounts for 50 percent of the company’s business, according to the founders.

Like many startups, Hydrant says its biggest challenge is competing on talent.

“We believe one of the most important drivers of success for our business is finding the right people,” said Kim. “We actually care less about direct industry experience. As a matter of fact, from our entire team, only one person comes from a directly relevant industry. The rest of the team members don’t have direct CPG or food and beverage experience. We care about people who are smart, hard workers, really curious, and who enjoy solving problems. There’s intense competition for good talent, and we’re doing everything we can to recruit that talent and pitch that we’re the right business for them to join.”

Hydrant plans on using this latest funding round to invest in talent, foster new product innovation, and invest in analytics to “double down on the data-driven DNA” of the company.