Building Hydro Flask and Finding Purpose in Entrepreneurship with Travis Rosbach

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The road to entrepreneurial success is long. It’s tedious. And there are points where it might make more sense to cut losses than it would be to keep forging onward. But sometimes, an idea gets bigger than just you – it becomes a movement… something that changes lives. 

“I was like, what happened, why do you not have water bottles,” Travis Rosbach said. “Because I did rock climbing in college, and I knew plastic water bottles were the way to go – the non-single use kind. And he said they didn’t have any because of this stuff called BPA. He said ‘We’re not really familiar with what it is or how serious it’s going to be, but we pulled all the bottles just as a precautionary measure.’ And so it just came out my mouth: ‘I will do that.’”

Travis isn’t your typical entrepreneur – he’s far more comfortable in a scuba suit and a business suit, but he knows firsthand what it’s like to have a business take on a life of its own. He’s the co-founder of Hydro Flask, the most-used water bottle in the world, which he built by taking an $11,000 investment and turning it into a $210 million dollar household name. And he did it while facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Hear his story on this episode!

Main Takeaways:

  • Teach yourself: The best way to learn isn’t always in an expensive MBA program or ivy-league college. Some of the best knowledge you’ll ever encounter can be found in the pages of books. Read, study, and absorb the lessons of those who have made a living doing what you want to do. 
  • Find the Answers Yourself: If you stop at the first challenge, you’ll never hit paydirt. If people tell you that what you want to do isn’t possible – find a way. Travis was told that there wasn’t a company in the world that could make his innovative new water bottle – so he went to Shanghai and found one himself. 
  • Find a Reason to Push Through the Hard Stuff: Running a business isn’t easy, but keep your eyes on why you started: why you began this journey in the first place. That reason will help you keep going when there are thousands of reasons to quit.

Key Quotes:


“I knew that we were struggling financially and yet this guy had artwork and he had Rolexes and suits and ties and he was living the fancy life – and it was literally right next door. I realized that this opulence came from this bookshelf somehow… his knowledge, his studies, his skill… it all came from this bookshelf. I had a calling to just devour these books.” 

“Growing up in the Caribbean, I could see coral bleaching. I’ve traveled all over the world, scuba diving and I’ve seen the damage on our coral reefs and the junk and garbage and plastics wash up on the beach. I always wanted to help, somehow. I just never thought I’d be able to make that big of an impact.” 

“Pretty soon we were getting feedback that Hydro Flask was keeping [businesses] afloat. People were coming in to buy the water bottle. They weren’t buying anything else, but the Hydro Flask was paying for their mortgage and leases. That was all the more reason that I just knew I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other.” 


Captain Travis Rosbach is a serial entrepreneur. He started out as a scuba diver master instructor and other jobs in his colorful career includes captaining a 50 tons US Merchant Marine Boat, being a commercial airline pilot for Seaborne Airlines and a Charter Jet Pilot, and a reiki and yoga instructor. His first venture into business was as the Founder of an Oahu Screen Printing company, he also founded a Fencing Company, but he is best known for co-founding and inventing the Hydro Flask, the most used water bottle in the world, with Cindy Morse. He sold the company that started off with $11,000 for $210 million. He attributes his knowledge and success to the business books he read.

This season of the Journey is produced by Mission.org and brought to you by UPS. To learn how UPS can help your small business, go to UPS.com/pivot.


Episode 114