A fruitful business partnership, operating from opposite ends of the world
DASH water is a company on a mission to keep people hydrated and save tonnes of ‘wonky’ fruit. The company was founded in the UK and saw an opportunity in the Australian market in 2020. It has been partnering with ATB since 2021.
DASH Water is one of the new emerging breed of companies that has a strong social and environmental conscience. The company produces sparkling soft drinks, which contain no sugar or sweeteners. DASH Water has found a strong niche in a highly competitive market because it is not only one of the healthiest options available, but because it is also raising awareness of, and helping to solve, a massive global problem – food waste.
The company was founded in the UK where it’s estimated that 40% of all produce grown in the UK is thrown out – wasted. It recognised a similar problem here in Australia too, where about 7.6 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted every year. Concerningly, it’s also estimated that about 70% of this food is still perfectly edible.
Social and environmental values
DASH chooses its ingredients (mostly fruit) on taste alone, so it doesn’t worry about the “wonky, squashed, imperfect or misshapen” fruit other retailers tend to pick over. And, by using this as a selling point, the company is aiming to raise awareness about food wastage, doing what it can to solve the issue in a meaningful way, one delicious can of DASH Water at a time.
“When we decided to enter the Australian market, we were conscious of our climate footprint, and to keep it as low as possible we knew we needed to set up a whole new supply chain and an Australian company, says Tom McAlpine, Head of Finance for DASH Water.
“To ensure maximum efficiency for Group reporting, we needed to use the same tech stack in Australia as in the UK – especially Xero for accounting and Unleashed for stock management.
We needed an outsourced partner accustomed to using these tools, so that we could minimise downtime getting someone up to speed, and really hit the ground running.”
After a rigorous tender process with several recommended Unleashed partners, DASH Water chose ATB to work with in Australia.
The ATB DASH Water partnership
“Right from the start, Michael and his team really “got” the brief – they anticipated what we needed. From our initial conversation, I was very impressed with the experience, the knowledge and the “can do attitude,” says Tom. “ATB was the standout choice.”
“As a firm, we just gravitated to the social conscience behind the business – the fact that they are committed to using Australian grown fruit and Australian spring water,” says Michael Mekhitarian.
“I am also really fascinated with the emerging business models which enables collaboration scalability and focus on excellent product and stakeholder outcomes”.
“Cloud-based platforms such as Xero, Unleashed, Teams and Zoom enable the collaboration, because we are their office they don’t hit constraints like office size or new employees as the business grows, which provides huge potential for scalability. All of that then frees the UK team up to focus on product, produce and people,” says Michael.
“At ATB,we have the experience in Unleashed and Xero, and the partnership offered us a valuable opportunity to use our people’s skills in this area, as well as an opportunity to step into the ‘Virtual CFO’ role, which is beyond the basics. It adds significant value by helping the UK team to understand their regulatory and tax obligations in Australia. We’re also an “ear on the ground” in the Australian market, with day-to-day experience of what’s happening with the economy and consumer confidence, for example, and we provide input into strategic planning when needed,” he explains.
ATB provides a full suite of outsourced vital back-office services, including
The ATB team is headed up by Michael Mekhitarian and includes Beck Lara and Eugene.
The big benefits of local knowledge
“I’m continually impressed with the initiative the team shows, and the high level of competence,” says Tom. “This means that the team in the UK can focus on other areas of the business.”
Almost a year into the working relationship, both parties are settling in, and adjusting to the fact that because of the time difference, meetings are very early in the morning for the Aussies and late in the evening for those based in the UK.
“The Australian market is very different from the UK – it has complex tax systems, and different state-based considerations. Having ATB keeping an eye on all that as well as running the back end of the business gives us total peace of mind. We’re really pleased with the way the partnership is progressing,” says Tom.
“Our people are enjoying the challenge,” says Michael. “And they are rising to it. DASH Water is a really exciting brand. We’re absolutely committed to helping the brand grow in the Australian market.”
DASH sold more than 10 million cans of drink in 2021 – including around 1 million in Australia. It has its drinks stocked in about 800 intendent retailers, and Woolworths has agreed to sell the drinks in-store too.
Woolworths will partner with Dash to launch a new flavour in early 2022.
“DASH has some big challenges coming as it continues to grow here in Australia,” says Michael Mekhitarian. “We’re excited to be part of this growth, and our team will be here, every step of the way.”