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No one knew what our product was – so we changed that

Thought Leader

No one knew what our product was – so we changed that

Sweatshirts.jpgVirgin Media Pioneers invited Clara Vaisse, the co-founder of Sibberi Birch Water, to describe how they overcame no one knowing what their product was.

Name           Clara Vaisse

From            London

Business      Sibberi Birch Water pure tree sap tapped straight from birch trees.

Sibberi sells tree sap.


I used to live in San Francisco and was amazed by the overwhelming amount of coconut water there: in shops, yoga studios, gyms, offices…everywhere. I was getting into the craze when my soon to be co-founder Mehdi Meghzifene suggested I try birch water. It’s a traditional northern European drink becoming popular with models in Milan, as it has much less sugar in it. I tried it, and loved it.


When I got back to the UK I searched for birch water and couldn’t find anything. So I teamed up with Mehdi and we decided to do it ourselves.


Finding success and then problems...


I started speaking to birch sap farmers and it instantly made everything seem more real. These people actually owned forests of birch trees and had been harvesting the sap for years. Our business was no longer just an idea, but something tangible.


I shaped the products for months. We had one of those meetings you only dream of with one of the best wholesalers in the UK. They decided there and then to launch our product. It was a huge momentum boost.


But after a few weeks of trading we realised most people had never heard of drinking tree sap – and didn’t really want to.


We had to re-think everything. Birch water had value as a popular product outside of the UK, and now we had the challenge of creating a whole new category of drinks ourselves.


Showing what we do…


We needed to simplify what we were selling. I looked at how coconut water had broken out to show people it was incredible hydrating. This is what we needed to do – but as an alternative with less sugar.


Consumer Show.jpgWe piggy-backed on both the coconut water and anti-sugar trend. These were two concepts there was a hunger for in the shops, and exactly what birch water offered. After a lot of research we landed on: “1/4 the sugar of coconut water.” This became our mantra.


If there was an opportunity, we went for it. Press, social media, sponsorship, pop-up events, goodie bags, subscription boxes, consumer shows, give-aways! It required a lot of planning, discipline and energy but it worked. We were creating a buzz for the alternative to coconut water.


Really thinking about what we needed to focus on made a huge difference to our start-up.  


In the food industry a few gate-keepers are incredibly influential. So make sure you can describe your offer in the simplest way possible.


Since then, Sibberi has been stocked at more than 1,000 shops including Selfridges, Ocado and Whole Foods; and we have grown our team to 10 people.


I believe in realising dreams – whether that’s in business, arts, family, sports or spirituality. Success is whenever you do something to get you closer to that dream. Keep going and don’t get distracted by the shiny things on the way.


Are you looking for advice on how to get your product stocked? Comment below and our Pioneers could introduce you to someone who can help.


Thought Leader

Hi!  Well done on the innovative product and getting it sold!  How long did it take you to get into the big boys from launch?  Did you do smaller retailers first?
Also, isn't Xylitol derived from Birch trees?  Does your water have the same potential digestive disruption if people drink too much?



New and Networking

Hi @Pip ! Thanks for your kind words Smiley Happy.

It took 6 months to get Ocado on board and then 12 months to get Waitrose. We started with the likes of Selfridges, As Nature Intended, Partridges etc. We did that to establish the brand with influencers and to get customers feedback as soon as possible. Birch water contains Xylitol but in very low amount that can't possibly have any impact on your digestive system.

Have a super day!