We interview Lars Brøndum Petersen, CEO in Retap

Storie of refillable glass bottles that decreases the environmental impact of bottled water
November 2017
We interview Lars Brøndum Petersen, CEO in Retap

Retap is a refillable glass bottle designed in Denmark. It was created in order to decrease the environmental impact of bottled water by reducing both plastic waste and the energy costs of the transport and bottling of water. With their simple, functional and distinctively Scandinavian design, these bottles have already received multiple awards, such as the Red Dot Design Award, the Promotional Gift Award (both in 2011) and the Good Design Award in 2012. They are composed of a more ecological and resistant type of glass known as borosilicate, and available in three sizes: 300 ml, 500 ml and 800 ml. Each model also features a collection of 12 brightly colored caps fabricated from BPA-free thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). Retap bottles can be further personalized with knitted Sleeves to match. The Retap product line also includes a range of solluble capsules in individual doses that infuse water with a delicate fruit flavor. Initially designed for direct consumers, Retap allows companies to customize bottles with their own logo. However, Retap bottles are not sold via the company website, but rather distributed locally through both online and physical channels in each country. After meeting Retap during our last visit to Anuga, we wanted to dig deeper into their business model and vision of innovation by interviewing CEO Lars Brøndum Petersen.

At a profesional level, what were you doing prior to creating Retap and what prompted you to found this company?

I and one of the co-founders were working as innovation consultants in a midsize consulting Company with 300 consultants. And one of the primary motivations starting Retap was the fact that we in the Company spent more than €500 per consultant on bottled water. Meaning we could do something that makes sense from both a financial and environmental point of view.

What is Retap’s vision and unique value proposition?

“We want to bring pleasure to drinking tap water by providing well-designed bottles and flavors to everyone.”

How did you convince investors that a tap water drinking solution would become successful?

We have been self-financing and growing Retap up until now – so we only had to keep the dream alive with ourselves.

What has been Retap’s most joyous moment?

One of the greatest moments was when Retap bottles were used at the World expo in Yeosu, Korea in 2012. More than 10.000 bottles covering the walls at the Grundfos Water bar that distributed them to visitors during the expo. We have more great moments, but that stands out as one of the big ones – also because it was a game changing order in terms of volume for such a young company.

And your most difficult moment?

The most difficult moment must be at the time when our producer a few years back told us that they could not produce for us anymore due to capacity problems – we were pretty nervous for a few months until they called us again sharing that the problems in production had been solved and they could continue working with us.

When and why did you launch Retap infuse?

Retap Infuse is actually an idea we had already in the beginning – but we were simply not able to find the right concept until a meeting at Copenhagen University two years ago where we met a young scientist who had come up with a concept for drying fruit juice instead of drying the actual fruit, which had the perfect properties to fit our vision for Infuse to enhance the experience with tap water.

Scandinavian products are synonymous with design, functionality and innovation. What was the process for designing the Retap bottle?

Wow, I am becoming nostalgic now. The process started with looking at 100 different bottles and making a list of all the design features we liked and didnt like with our design bureau 3Part in Aarhus. When having 5 potential designs we did a questionaire with more than 400 responding people within our target group of young professionals – asking anything from material to design. And in the end we had the award-winning design you see today!

Being a small company, how has Retap sought to become better known among consumers and retailers? How are you building your brand?

We are and have primarily been building our Brand through earned media and articles in various papers and magazines. Further, we have been very selective in choosing our retailers, which shall reflect our position in the mid/high-end market. So initially you could only buy Retap bottles in Modern Art museums and Premium department stores like Selfrigdes in London and Illums Bolighus in Copenhagen.

Looking forward, what are Retap’s next steps? How will your business grow? Are you imagining new drink or bottled products?

In near future we will have more presence in our current markets focusing on the deeper introduction of Retap Infuse. During 2018 we will be launching additional flavors and offering our corporate clients to have their Retap Infuse sticks branded as we also offer with the Retap bottles. We will also be working on extending our line of accessories. Long term we have a completely new product up our sleeve, but we can talk about that again in a year's time.

A more personal question: when you’re not drinking tap water out of a Retap bottle… what do you like to drink?

Well, to be honest the Retap Bottles also go pretty well with a nice Gin & Tonic.

We interview Lars Brøndum Petersen, CEO in RetapEsther Veguillas
Marketing Manager