Meet Madeleine Grandbois, co-founder CCO of SZENT, a new way to enjoy flavored water without all the added unnecessary sugars and calories. Grandbois is a recent transplant from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas where she now calls home. Prior to starting SZENT, Grandbois worked in marketing and advertising in Los Angeles and even founded her own company based in Santa Monica called BTTR.
Right now SZENT has five flavors from passionfruit, tangerine, tropical, pineapple and mint. The “flavor” of the water is actually scent from the bottle ring to give off the illusion of flavored water without the extra additives.
Read more about Grandbois, the dog-loving jet-setter below on what motivates her and obstacles she overcame below along the way of starting her own venture.
Why did you start your company and what motivates you every day?
SZENT was created out of necessity. When we tried to find a flavored beverage that truly didn’t compromise the quality with sugars, chemicals or calories, we came up short. A little research proved that your sense of smell is responsible for as much as 80% of what you taste.
What are some of the major lessons you’ve learned along the way?
The biggest lesson over the past 5 years of R&D and launching into the market is that the word “no” only means no if you let it. Push back until you get a yes – even if it’s a begrudging yes. When you’re disrupting multiple categories at once you absolutely need tenacity. Be the squeaky wheel. Push back on the answers you don’t like. And push your partners to think as big as you’re thinking. Nothing has come easy and we’re just fine with that. Big ideas are worth the fight.
Tell us about a setback you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
Not only are we reinventing the way people think about “flavor” by utilizing your sense of smell, but we’re inventing parts and pieces that do not exist. Manufacturing new products takes time and patience. We’ve been incredibly lucky with most of the partners who have joined us in bringing this product to life. But that comes with those who haven’t been great to us either. We aren’t adapting to an existing category or product, we’re creating a new one.
What advice do you have for women who feel stuck in their careers?
Two pieces of advice to share. First, find a community or a mentor or a friend who will listen and help you craft a plan. Putting your intentions out into the universe where others know your plans helps keep you accountable. And second – you’re the only one in your way. Any risk, big or small, is scary for everyone. Take solace in the fact that you’re not the first or last one to take a leap in your career. All of the experience thus far WILL come in handy.
We all know how difficult work/life balance is. How do you draw the line to create separation in these two spheres?
Having and enforcing boundaries is key, butI think the idea of balance is slightly unfair. Nothing is intended to be perfectly balanced and that word means different things to different people. For me, finding time to take care of myself in the mornings, be it a tough workout, a long walk, listening to a podcast or simply taking the time to enjoy coffee in the kitchen instead of at my desk helps me prioritize the day and ensures my mental health is cared for first and foremost.
We love to support women-founded ventures. Is there a company/product that you’ve come across recently that you think more people should know about?
|A few folks I’d shout out – The CoOp Agency in Los Angeles. Lara Bandler and Amy Barbanell (as well as their entire team) are incredibly knowledgeable about launching and gaining exposure to new products. I’d also suggest to any women considering raising money for their own product/project to look into iFundWomen – a crowdfunding platform that focuses solely on women-founded ventures. They are helping me raise money for a new organization I’m launching called Bodies Without Borders (www.bodieswithoutborderspodcast.com)|