Four Redwood alums find success in their balanced hydration business MXXY

Natalie Tress

“We came up with the idea for ourselves growing up in the Bay Area. We were hiking and biking a lot, so when we would go out on a Friday evening hike and we had a game on Saturday morning, it was really important for us to carry something with electrolytes or added nutrients besides water,” Drew Dawson, one of the four founders of MXXY, a startup company focused on engineering advanced hydration packs, said. 

Through their love for athletics and outdoor activities, Redwood alums Dawson, Jack Elders, Nicolas Belgum and Ashton Finegold saw a need for a product that both hydrates and delivers nutrients to their bodies so they could perform their best in strenuous activities. Their desire to push themselves paired with the need for more than just water when working out sparked an idea that would soon turn into the brand MXXY. The link to their website can be found here.  

Frustrated they could not find a hydration pack that would carry two different liquids, the alums created MXXY, a product unique from others on the market. MXXY is a hydration backpack that allows athletes to carry both water and nutrients in a split reservoir, with the ability to switch easily between the two and to dial in one’s desired balance for their level of exercise, temperature and challenge. 

Redwood Class of 2017 alums Drew Dawson, Jack Elders, Nicolas Belgum and Ashton Finegold create a unique balanced hydration system. Courtesy of MXXY press kit.

The alums’ interest in entrepreneurship has continued to grow. With the idea in mind as early as high school, the founders spent most of their time exercising and working in the Redwood engineering lab to develop their idea. There, they 3D printed the first ever model of their product. In the beginning, Elders found himself being more project-oriented rather than thinking about a large scale business. 

 “I don’t think I ever thought on a large scale in those first two years. I had this ‘passion project’ on the side that started having some success and becoming real, to a point where I could say ‘this is what I want to do,’” Elders said. 

Michael Francis, co-founder and creative director of the e-commerce focused design group, ELVA, saw the potential for the product to take off and invested in MXXY.

“When we first saw it, there were just product renderings. It wasn’t an actual product yet, but we were married to the idea and the enthusiasm that these kids had around coming to market and bringing something to the table that was completely unique,” Francis said. “They are incredibly motivated, gung ho, enthusiastic and hardworking. Some of the most hardworking individuals I’ve ever met–they are destined for success. Regardless if it’s this product or the next business, their work ethic is out of this world.” 

In a start-up business like MXXY, the process of getting to a point of profit can be long and draining. The company waited two years before getting their first dollar in funding, which Dawson described as “bootstrapping.”

Sketch of one of the first models of the MXXY hydration system sketched in a Redwood homeroom class. Courtesy of Drew Dawson.

“[During the first two years], we really enjoyed the process of working together and I think that we all believed in what [MMXY] could become. If we hadn’t enjoyed it to that degree, I don’t really think we would have had the capacity to continue to press it forward,” Dawson said. 

With the company beginning to see success, the founders are proud of what they have been able to accomplish. Having the goal to increase the valuation and success of the company, MXXY is currently enrolled in a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to reach their funding goal of 65 thousand dollars by Oct. 8. 

“Kickstarter is much more of a proof of concept generator than it is a fundraising source,” Dawson said. “At some point, if you want to raise a valuation that’s more than two or 2.5 million [dollars], you have to show some tangible proof of concept and you have to show that people are willing to pull out their credit cards and actually purchase what you’re making.”

The hydration backpack is just the beginning of the MXXY journey, as they hope to expand the idea of balanced hydration and nutrient intake from just prosumer and professional athletes to a more general audience. According to the founders, it is outstanding to see the growth of a product formulated in a Redwood classroom to how it is expanding today. 

Avid hiker enjoys balanced hydration of nutrients and water to meet his level of exertion. Courtesy of MXXY press kit.

“We are still leveraging connections from when we were at Redwood. I think that those connections in high school are much more long term than it sometimes feels like,” Dawson said. 

Elders believes that like him, all Redwood students can expand their interests into their profession, as long as they are easygoing through the process. 

 “I feel very grateful that I wasn’t set on one idea when I was a senior in high school of what I wanted to do. I was very open, and when I was able to follow something like this [MXXY], I’ve just been so grateful for that entire process. So don’t think you need to be stuck to one thing,” Elders said.