Bentonville startup GEN Z sells to Langers Juice Co.

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,750 views 

Three Bentonville residents co-founded bottled water startup GEN Z Water in April 2020.

GEN Z, a Bentonville startup that launched a water brand with a unique bottle design, recently was sold to Industry, Calif.-based Langers Juice Co. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Doug Batie, Erin Campbell and Neil Mellers, all of Bentonville, co-founded GEN Z in 2020.

“It means the world to us that it’s kind of played out that we’ve successfully moved from concept, to launch, to proof and immediately to sale rather than scale,” said Batie, former CEO of GEN Z. “We’re excited that the data was right. All the data pointed us to this insight that an aluminum bottle with refill ability that looked like a sticker-bombed Hydro Flask would work in the marketplace.”

After researching more than 100 water companies and disruptors in other industries, GEN Z started to sell its bottled water online and at area grocery and convenience stores in 2021. It set itself apart with its unique bottle designs that included penguins holding hands or an orangutan leaning on a radio with a rose stem in its mouth.

The founders noted the challenges consumer packaged goods face with innovation and those startups face with scaling a brand. This deal addressed both challenges. Langers brought the industry experience and infrastructure to scale the brand, while GEN Z provided the innovation and disruption.

No employees made the move to Langers, and the company didn’t have any layoffs. The founders highlighted that those who’ve worked for GEN Z have gone on to advance in their careers. Campbell, former chief marketing officer, added that the company worked with the University of Arkansas on branding and marketing with their target audience and was a pipeline for interns.

The company’s founders plan to remain in Northwest Arkansas and look to help other startups. Batie and Mellers, former chief growth officer, recently co-founded Fulcrum Collective. Campbell cited her LinkedIn page to follow her career’s next steps.