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Meet the Founder: Victor Guardiola and Jordan Hicks of Bawi Agua Fresca

Victor Guardiola and Jordan Hicks of Bawi Agua Fresca

Bawi Agua Fresca is a beverage rooted in representation. Victor and Jordan first crossed paths while attending college in Austin, Texas. As a first-generation immigrant, Victor had a strong desire to bring more Mexican tradition, culture, and the nostalgic flavors of his upbringing to America. Jordan, a born and bred Texan, had developed a passion for all things food and beverage. 

Bawi Agua Fresca puts a healthy twist on one of Mexico’s most beloved beverages.  Available in lime, passion fruit, and pineapple, Bawi is lightly carbonated, made with organic fruit juices, and only 40 to 60 calories per can.

Recently, we caught up with Victor and Jordan to learn more about their journey and hear their advice for fellow entrepreneurs.

Bawi product lineup

1. Why did you start Bawi Agua Fresca?

Bawi's mission is to bring cultural representation to the beverage industry while keeping health in mind. Latinos have nostalgic beverage options, however, the very beverages that remind us of home are damaging the health of our community. Bawi aims to change that by providing the cultural representation that Latinos have demanded while catering to the health of the customers we're serving.

2. What obstacles did you face along the way?

The most difficult obstacle for many founders, especially founders of color, is raising enough funding to initialize the business. This is largely referred to as a “cold-start problem,” where entrepreneurs of color and female founders have their businesses falter before launching due to the socioeconomic inequities that underrepresented founders face. It took us several years to raise the initial funding to commercialize Bawi. 

Ultimately, we were able to secure a prominent local lead investor who took a chance on us. Now, several years later, we’re thankful for the community of investors we’ve been able to network with organically, as all of the funding Bawi has raised has been from cold emails or introductions. We have amazing people involved, including the founder of Siete Foods, Torchy’s Tacos, the President of TikTok, and the founders of Athletic Brewing.

Victor Guardiola and Jordan Hicks

3. What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Begin building your network immediately. If you’re a first-time founder, especially within the CPG business, it’s paramount that you recruit sharp operators to help educate you on how to run a successful CPG business. The utility of growing your network is limitless, and the people who back you as an individual often end up fielding introductions and sometimes even investing in your business. Separately, we’d recommend building a strong financial foundation for your startup by immediately hiring an accountant or fractional CFO, if possible. 

4. What’s on the horizon for Bawi Agua Fresca?

We’re introducing new, more classic agua fresca flavors over the next few years. It’s exciting because this is the first time Latinos have seen better-for-you representation in the beverage aisle. We started Bawi with a simple vision — for a Hispanic consumer to be able to pick up an agua fresca that makes them feel at home while keeping their health in mind. 

bawi case

5. How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?

We’ve each found our own strategies to keep a healthy balance between work and personal life after learning its importance over the years. Jordan finds a successful balance through a consistent schedule that is tied with clear boundaries between work and time for himself. Candidly, the most important and difficult piece is respecting these personal boundaries, especially with how quickly things can evolve behind the scenes. Not creating clear boundaries (i.e. taking phone calls or checking the inbox) can quickly transition your limited personal time into stressing about something work-related, which can snowball into other personal time slots. Following a consistent schedule that accounts for personal time between demos, meetings, field days, and more has been a valuable tool for staying organized and avoiding burnout. 

Victor practices a consistent journaling routine and has found that being able to track his goals and vulnerabilities, both personal and professional, has been paramount to his personal development. There are things within your personal life that are so essential to your well-being that you can’t allow them to get completely lost. Keeping tabs on your physical health and mental health, within the context of knowing that things will get better and more manageable over time, is his biggest piece of advice on maintaining some sort of balance. The sharper you can operate personally from an executive management perspective (i.e. getting groceries, keeping your place clean, getting exercise, hydration, and sunshine), the better you will be as a founder. Learning how to mix these into a high-stress work environment in an ongoing process.

What inspires us is seeing progress made on our goals. This goes in tandem with professional and altruistic endeavors in Bawi. It’s motivating to set a target and execute. Whether it’s training for a marathon or a launch with Bristol Farms, having your eyes set on something and winning is a strong motivating force. 

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