Mr. Ingo Schlüter: Adding a Little Excitement to a New Generation of Water in Dubai

Water is essential for bodily functions like digestion, nourishing muscles, excreting wastes, protecting various organs and improving physical performance. So, health authorities have always recommended that we drink an adequate amount of water each day. But despite this, most people purchase soft drinks instead of drinking water. No thanks to profit-oriented beverage companies, many people mistakenly believe that drinking just plain water is boring but drinking soft drinks is fashionable.

The big challenge now is to help people overcome the prevalent myth in our society that drinking just water is boring. In fact, encouraging people to drink water regularly can be an evergreen idea, especially in our modern environment: people become healthier through a culture of sustainability. Generally, when challenges seem overwhelming at first, it’s imperative to begin by taking small, confident yet consistent steps in the right direction. We have ‘Virgo Water’, a Dubai company providing some of the best quality drinking water available in the world, leading by example. It’s a two-year-old company, set up with the sole purpose of making drinking water more exciting as well as to cultivate to a healthier and sustainable culture.

Ingo Schlüter
Ingo Schlüter, Managing Director and Co-founder, Virgo Water

Bringing Excitement to Drinking Water

“We all know that water is the healthiest drink, but most people prefer soft drinks because they find drinking water is boring. In regions where the weather is hot outside and the air condition is running 24/7 inside, it’s of particular importance to hydrate and to add back essential minerals that your body is losing over the day,” say Mr. Ingo Schlüter, the managing director and co-founder of Virgo Water.

Mr. Schlüter first noticed the problem in 2018. He was browsing through supermarkets in the United Arab Emirates but saw that almost all beverages were sugary drinks with chemical ingredients within plastic bottles. Even when the government had mandated a more sustainable food supply chain with healthier diets, there were mostly unhealthy beverages within an unsustainable packaging. So, he began working to help solve the problem through meeting people, thus building a strong network within the UAE’s food and beverage industry.

Mr. Schlüter approached this ambition creatively. “We knew we could contribute to a healthier lifestyle by replacing just one can of soft drink with water each day. But we didn’t want just simple water. We wanted to have a natural product, high in natural minerals, flavored with natural fruit extracts and without any chemicals. We also wanted a sustainable packaging protecting the sensitive natural ingredients. Such a product would be the very first in the UAE,” he says. Nearly a year-and-a-half ago, all the essential components of the service including the source of drinking water, packaging and design were ready. Thus, the company was officially set up, with the vision to make drinking water exciting and fun, contributing to a more sustainable culture and environment.

Virgo Water brings some of the planet’s best quality drinking water to people. The company’s drinking water is collected from the natural springs of the volcanic Eifel region of Germany. Many experts believe this to be one of the safest, healthiest and purest natural water filtration systems in the world! The company’s water has plenty of essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, hydrogen carbonate and various minerals, all vital for the human health and well-being. The company also mixes extracts from natural fruits like strawberries, apple and lemon, for a pleasant taste with each sip. Further, their products come within 100 % recyclable aluminum cans to always ensure a fresh taste. In sum, their products are nutritious, good-tasting and sustainable, without any sugars, calories or artificial ingredients.

Leading Effectively during Crises

Mr. Schlüter is well-experienced, having over 25 years of working experience in the food and beverage industry. Having studied business administration, economics and digital brand building, he’s also well-educated. But the biggest challenge he ever faced in his career had been setting up a company during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The international health crisis, indefinite lockdown and uncertain professional landscape, has changed the entire market environment greatly. All carefully prepared business plans became obsolete as well.

For Virgo Water, the company’s products first arrived in May 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. Their products were first introduced into the market through online channels. Online platforms like amazon, noon and waterwa initially helped their sales process. But with time, the company’s distribution network has been growing stronger online and in retail, even attracting lots of fans on social media too. Thus, people have been steadily buying their products.

Mr. Schlüter acknowledges that starting and continually managing a company, especially during crises like COVID-19 is very tough. But having overcome this challenge, he has some experiences to share. “Firstly, it’s important to keep a positive spirit and to try to find opportunities that every crisis brings. Secondly, you shouldn’t discuss too much about strategy or plans, but rather quickly agree on actions and execute! Thirdly, you are not the only one facing a crisis. There are also other companies that are facing difficulties. This can create some unexpected but great opportunities for cooperation. You can search for potential partners, develop ideas to cooperate and approach them proactively,” he says.

“As a leader, you should have a clear vision which can be broken down into tangible targets. Your task is to build the right team, one that shares your vision and is ready to work hard with you to achieve the targets. For my team, I always hired for the right combination of attitude and skills. Skills can be taught, but attitude is very difficult to change. Especially when starting a company, you need people with a ‘can do’ attitude,” he provides valuable advice.

Further, Mr. Schlüter emphasizes that diversity in a team is very important. He shares that business leaders can succeed by nurturing the growth of diverse people coming from different backgrounds, with different skills and having varying perspectives or opinions.

Committed to a Meaningful Cause: Fostering Health and Sustainability

Personally, Mr. Schlüter as a few secrets to success. “It’s most important to have a good idea of your life targets. I know mine well, in business and private life. I always wanted to build something meaningful in business. Developing my own brand and seeing it grow in the market was on my bucket list since a long time. Thus, it’s a major motivation keeping me moving. I also try to focus on those things that give me positive energy. I have a very big variance of things that I’m interested in, so I never get bored,” he shares.

Through Virgo Water, Mr. Schlüter has been making a creative and extraordinary effort to encourage people to practice healthier habits. The company’s mission is to help people inculcate healthy habits, thus foster to a sustainable culture in our society. They care for nature as well as the well-being of the environment and people. “We see a big potential for a circular economy through aluminum. This is not a big step as it just requires a stronger coordination between us, retailers, private as well as governmental waste management and recycling companies. We have some interesting projects in the pipeline we want to report later,” he says.

Having established company well in the UAE, Mr. Schlüter sees opportunities to distribute their products into newer regions like the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Asia Pacific.