Founder Friday: Adam Lazar, Asarasi

Around the world, our supply of fresh water is declining. Add to that a growing population, and we could have quite a problem on our hands.

Knowing very well that this supply is limited, letting any of it go to waste would be incredibly foolish. Yet, for many years, that’s what was happening on maple farms.

See, when you extract the sap from maple trees to create syrup, only 3% of that is the sugar needed for syrup. The other 97%? Completely pure water. But instead of using it, farmers were throwing it away.

That’s what inspired Adam Lazar to start Asarasi, the only USDA-organic water on the planet. And I know what you’re probably thinking – no, the water doesn’t taste like maple syrup. It’s simply crisp, fresh water with some added carbonation for a little extra something.

Learn more about Asarasi’s groundbreaking accomplishments in the beverage industry, and how Adam and his team hope to encourage others to take part in this movement towards sustainability.

How did your startup, well, start up?

Asarasi was a brain child after a day visiting maple farms across Vermont in the spring of 2008. There, I witnessed maple producers throw away thousands of gallons of sap water that had the maple sugar molecules removed. After realizing this was a pure biological water and knowing that our drinkable water supply was dwindling, I decided that I needed to find a way to bring this new water resource to consumers.

What do you do? Your startup?

Asarasi has pioneered the world’s very first organic water by developing a renewable and sustainable water supply that comes from a plant-based source. The company is at the forefront of the recovery and bottling of maple permeate waters, which are currently a by-product of the maple sapping industries. Asarasi is a naturally pure, unflavored, tree-filtered water which has been certified USDA organic…the only organic water on Earth!

As a result of this mission, Asarasi is not just positively impacting how we approach our drinkable water supply, it is also impacting farmers with a means to increase their profitability as well as consumers with the world’s first-ever USDA-certifiable organic bottle of water from a unique and trustworthy source.

When was the ‘aha’ moment for your startup when you realized this could actually work?

My first aha moment was actually when I applied to 43North for the first time. Out of thousands of applicants, Asarasi was selected as one of the semifinalists. At this time, I only had the idea and a concept of how the idea would manifest itself. I felt that if Asarasi could generate this much interest at this early stage of development, the interest and impact could only grow from here.

What tools can you not live without and why?

Regular team meetings and managing by objectives are pretty important concepts when it comes to leadership. Just having an open and available policy to everyone in the company – having an open line of communication to share any good news, bad news, and anything in between – is essential to our team’s success.

We use HubSpot to track leads and manage workflow. It’s nice to get out of Excel and get into an online platform that allows us to be more productive.

What was some important advice you received when starting up and who told it to you?

As an entrepreneur, you don’t really consider yourself a CEO – it’s a really foreign term and doesn’t have an impact until you have people look at you that way.

I was told to “Look big and act bigger.” It allows you to have a much bigger vision for your company and gain some level of credibility and confidence with customers. I heard that from the founder of Constant Contact in a small fireside chat. He had just sold his company and that was his advice to the group of entrepreneurs.

What is the best part/worst part of your day as a founder?

As you can imagine, every day brings new challenges – both good and bad. The good is when there is a clear Iine of sight of the business moving forward, and the bad is when you are wondering if your efforts are the right things to keep the business growing and healthy. Ultimately, I know for sure that there will constantly be highs and lows, but at the end of the day, having a vision and a passion for the brand keeps me going no matter what.

Goals for the next year? Three years?

In the marketplace, Asarasi has been very well-received, and will be in well over 1,500 locations in the short time since it was launched. In addition, we have partnered with 60+ farms (and growing) in New York and New England, creating the first maple permeate cooperative in the United States and enhancing the lives of farmers across our region. From a sustainability perspective, Asarasi is supporting the farming community and the environment for water conservation, while simultaneously providing consumers with a best-in-class bottled water product at a value price.

Over the next 3 years, the Asarasi mission is to continue to change the way the world thinks about how we access our natural resources in a sustainable way. We will focus on building our distribution nationally as well as internationally. We are also committed to expanding our farm partnerships, ensuring that they have the ability to access a robust marketplace for their water.

Why Buffalo?

Buffalo is at the epicenter of what we are doing. Our current maple tree farm is Sprague’s Maple Farm located in Portville, our product is bottled at Mayer Brothers in West Seneca, and our primary distributors are Try-it Distributing/Balkan Beverage in Buffalo and Cavallaro Foods in Syracuse.

How do you do it? What drives you?

It’s 20-hour days, that’s no exaggeration. You get your few hours of sleep in and you function, but I don’t look at the clock and consider how long I’ve been at the office. It’s about “who am I going to let down if I don’t perform?” I look to my employees for inspiration, and the customers who are engaged and excited about carrying our product.