Peter Hall ′12 & Alex Lippincott ′12
Peter Hall ’12
Hometown: Arlington, VA
Major: International Business
Alex Lippincott ’12
Hometown: Boston, MA
Major: Anthropology / Sociology
How do you run a startup company from your dorm room?
Alex: Last summer Peter and I started looking at all these really neat startup companies that used bottled water as a means of pushing philanthropic endeavors.
Peter: We saw a niche where people are buying bottled water at an increasing rate, and a rise of philanthropic-related water products. We thought of a company named Promise Water, where we donate 100% of our net profits to research at St. Jude. Our slogan is “water with a purpose,” and it is competitively priced, compared to Ethos and Fiji that are $2or $3 per bottle. Ours is $1.09. You can feel like you’re helping something important rather than giving money to a major corporation.
Alex: Similar companies like Tom’s Shoes use college campuses to spread the word of their organization and promote their product. Being in college is actually one of our appeals—everyone can imagine being in our position, and people want to help us out. They know we’re not doing this for profit. We’re doing it for St. Jude.
No one is born an entrepreneur. How did your transformation happen?
Peter: Growing up, I never had an allowance and, as much as I hated it, it has taught me the value of money. Every dollar I earned, I had to work hard for it. In order to have fun I had to either mow lawns or shovel snow. I started a DJ company in middle school. My parents didn’t buy me a car in high school, so I worked two summers to get enough money to buy one, to pay for the insurance, to pay for the gas. It’s the little things that make you value the car so much more. I don’t just go around joyriding.
Alex: We’re hoping to bring Peter’s frugal nature into the business plan. He counts every penny, and that’s important. This is a learning process. We’re trying to start from the ground up—and I think that’s one of our appeals, that it’s local and that it’s grassroots. Companies like Ethos water and Smart Water donate money to clean water in Africa, and that’s such a broad thing. By donating our profits to St. Jude, we’re affecting a place three miles from here.
What part does Rhodes play in this operation?
Alex: An interesting aspect of the situation is that Peter is an International Business major; he brings kind of a hardnosed business approach to our operation, whereas I, being an anthropology/sociology major, keep it grounded in the human aspect. It’s kind of a double-edged sword in the way it draws from our two areas of study. Because Promise Water is both a business product and a philanthropic product it takes people skills in addition to entrepreneurship.
How were you inspired to do community service at Rhodes?
Alex: Coming to Memphis was a completely new experience for both of us. The Open Rhodes orientation programs were nice, and we really enjoyed the local introduction. We wanted to see more. Peter began coaching lacrosse at a local high school last year, and he’s coaching again this year.
Peter: We wanted to get involved in the city of Memphis. We’re always looking for a way to step foot outside of Rhodes. We started to ask, “What can we do in this city?” because we have four years here, and St. Jude was a glaring answer for what makes Memphis special. The hospital is on the cutting edge of research, and we wanted to support it.