Hugh Thomas is the co-founder of Ugly Drinks, which launched four years ago in a small London apartment. Aimed to disrupt the regular high-sugar soft drinks, Ugly now boasts over five million sales.
A year after their launch in the US, we sit down with Hugh to catch up on all things Ugly!
For those who don’t know, tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
Hi, I’m Hugh and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Ugly Drinks. I live in New York (USA) and we now sell Ugly’s range of flavoured sparkling waters across the UK and USA with our awesome team.What inspired you to create Ugly drinks? And what are the biggest challenges you come up against as a disruptor brand?
We designed Ugly to take on the status quo of sugary and sweetened soft drinks globally. Too many people are drinking the bad stuff, so we wanted to tell the ugly truth about it, and create something that was natural and without any of the sugar and sweeteners found in soda and diet soda. Ugly is a range of flavoured sparkling waters, with no sugar, no sweeteners and no artificial ingredients…you can’t get that ice-cold can refreshment without any of the guilt. For many people with soda habits, Ugly is a great alternative. Hopefully, we can give people a fun, healthier option, with no sacrifice.You’ve launched in America, with a series of energy drinks! How does the American market compare to your experience in the UK?
We launched Ugly Energized in October. Not only do we feel like there is an ugly truth about sugary soda, but we felt the same about luminous high sugar energy drinks. Ugly Energized has 160mg of organic caffeine, no sugar, no sweetener and no artificial ingredients. It’s launched in the US to begin with, but might be coming to a store near you in the UK soon!
America is a massive marketplace and really needs to be considered as lots of states to tackle in bitesize pieces. We’re learning a lot, but the problems with sugary sodas and energy drinks are the same here, as they are back at home. Hopefully, we can make a big impact on diets and bring a bit of Ugliness across the US!What’s been your favourite thing you’ve done so far?
Moving here has involved a lot of hard work, but I’ve loved travelling and getting to see lesser-known parts of the US. So often in pop culture, we see and hear from people in New York and California, but I’ve loved visits to middle America and recently Tennessee where I learnt a lot about a different American culture and consumer.
What’re you most looking forward to in the future/what’s your five-year plan?
We have so much to look forward to. What you see now is just the beginning and we’re ambitious to build a truly global drinks company with a range of healthier products tackling many Ugly truths! We continue to work with our awesome charity partner, Girl Up, a UN foundation charity that supports the fight against gender inequality and I’m excited to see how far we can take this message and partnership with our team. We donate money from every Ugly can sold in the UK and US to supporting them.
In 5 years, we would love Ugly to be truly recognised globally, a household name in the UK and US, and beginning to expand into new markets and other countries where the ugly truth of soda consumption, is very real!And lastly, tell us three things from your bucket list!
Great question… (thanks Hugh!)
- Watch Sumo in Japan
- Take my dad to the Himalayas
- Build an Ugly team in a non-English speaking country!
It was so fantastic to sit down with Hugh to discuss Ugly. We're passionate about Ugly's message and huge fans of their drinks! And how amazing is it that they support Girl Up with EVERY can sold?!