Hand sanitizer is the must-have of 2020, and one brand is determined to go the extra mile to keep those in need safe and sound.
H2One Hand Sanitizer donates a bottle of its safe, effective, premium product for every bottle sold online, and one of their main focuses is children.
H2One CEO and co-founder, Alfred Zaccagnino, says his product was born out of necessity: “As we all went through this pandemic, I had an early realization that there was going to be an urgent need for safe and quality hand sanitizer; there just wouldn't be enough to go around. I wanted to form a team highly capable for creating the best product while also giving back to those most in need.”
Learn more about this entrepreneur in this interview.
Can You Tell Us About You and Your Story?
For many years and a multitude of reasons I've been interested in combining a strong business with the art of giving & philanthropy. Different business ideas and concepts land on my desk... nice ideas from the exceptional seasoned talent in my life, as well as cool concepts from brilliant new minds coming out of college. During the first couple of weeks during the pandemic I recognized the United States was going to have a major supply and demand issue with hand sanitizer. After ample time and research, and after speaking with parties who I was eager to partner with, we recognized a sustainable model that was unfolding before us ~ H2One quickly formed as an incredibly important business that will provide in-demand product for consumers in need, and at the same time, giving to families and organizations in dire need. The two combined struck a very special chord in my philanthropist heart; the H2One team has been nonstop ever since and we will only get bigger and stronger.
Can You Tell us a Story about the Hard Times that You Faced When you First Started Your Journey?
Making decisions and bets against all odds.
Influential names in finance have told me "when you don't know what to do, do nothing at all". Any new venture requires relationship access, gifted talent, capital infusions, travel, and more. How can one succeed with a new venture when you cannot shake the hand of a colleague nor look one in the eye? Convincing yourself to rally your partners, then making a major bet on your team and one's self to succeed at a new venture is difficult at the forefront of a global pandemic which arguably comes once a century. When you challenge yourself hard enough, you WILL win, but only if you have an exceptional team complimenting your efforts. H2One has said team.
What Keeps You Motivated Even During Hard Times?
My childhood. Growing up on welfare made me the man I am today, notwithstanding the astounding support I've received from amazing people in my life in the form of family, partners, colleagues and friends. One of my best business and family practices is to never let down your support system, even if it takes 16+ hour days including weekends. When things get hard, don't complain, utilize that same energy to persist and rise up.
Can You Share a Story about the Funniest Mistake You Made When You Were First Starting?
Pandemic month one, I was on a plane from EWR to LAX to visit a factory and took a large sip ofwater with my mask on. What a mess, the flight attendant loved me. Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? Don't drink and fly.
What is One Thing You Would Tell Your Younger Self?
One of my earliest childhood memories was when walking with my Mom through Coney Island Brooklyn to receive our free five pound block of government cheese. This would happen once every 6 months. I’d tell my young self to react better and do a better job of changing my surroundings when scenarios didn’t seem right. To “speak up” when or if you have to. Example; although 7 years old, I recognized a couple of people following us to and from the Church. On the way home, we got jumped for our five pound block of government cheese. I told myself then, told myself at 9-11-2001 when an air traffic controller, and will tell myself today as an investor, “Never Forget”.
For the best life lessons, surround yourself with people who are wiser, more educated, healthier, older than you at times, happier, more determined and focused than you and me, all at the earliest age possible.
Learn from the mistakes that you make yourself but also learn from the mistakes of others. It's easy to talk about successes, but you learn just as much when talking about one's failures. Some of the greatest successes in the world today were borne from a multitude of failures. Listen and follow the life signs.
What Makes Your Company Stand Out?
The best business practice at Samarian Group is relationship management and preservation. When you are on top of the world, who isn’t your friend? When you are facing issues, whether business or personal, who rallies around you? When a business deal goes south you want the team around you rallying with you and fixing problems, not running away from them, pointing fingers, or making excuses. Samarian Group, which is the lead investor of H2One and Code One Inc., is an exceptional team that rallies during best and worst case scenarios and circumstances. That’s who I want to be around, and that’s the type of team we should all be around. Rise up together.
This is also why we are true givers at heart. The quality of our products far exceeds the quality of others. My seven-year-old daughter went to summer camp this year, and the administrative staff at this reputable summer camp gave the kids a new hand sanitizer brand. To the dismay of my daughter, the odor emanating from her hands after use was bad. So bad she had to wash her hands. This anecdote further motivated me to motivate the H2One team to focus on a stellar product that smells great and is safe for everyone to use.
How Do You Avoid “Burn Out”? Any Tips?
When you receive a box of lemons, add some sugar, exhale, listen, focus, and make lemonade.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
When a friend makes a bet on you, especially when you may not qualify in a particular field due to lack of experience, etc., that is a friend for life. I’m lucky enough to have a dozen of these exceptional people in my immediate circle.
In addition, for those of us fortunate enough to have mentors, especially those mentors who watch you from close distances and from afar, there are no words to describe the gratitude you feel in your heart, especially my mentor Charlie Irish who is no longer with us today, although some of my drive and perseverance exists today because I know he is watching from the Universe.
What is Your Advice for Startups?
The world is about to see this in real-time via H2One. Watch us win.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Share the Health is a movement led by H2One. This movement is the culmination of dozens of other movements, challenges and successes that have taken place during the past 20 years. Everybody has their own unique life path. My wish is that the H2One Promise movement will cause other startups to do the same as we “lead by example” at Samarian Group and Code One Inc. with H2One as the pilot... (I was an Air Traffic Controller for many years :)
1. Creatively swing against the tide. Education is of paramount importance, but there are many other life tools available that will bring one to success. As a kid my resources were scarce, and as an avid baseball player which played a major role in my childhood awakening to leave Bensonhurst Brooklyn, my weekends would be at the beach in the water swinging a baseball bat using the resistance of the tide to strengthen my arms and speed up my swing. Today I look back at this as an important life lesson knowing that it is ok to swing against the tide.
2. "Follow me" In my opinion, we live in a controlled "follow me" society where most go with the flow. Did you ever drive through toll lanes where there are 8 or so lanes to choose from, but the majority of the cars are following each other into 2-3 of those lanes when the other 5-6 are left wide open? Observe this when you next drive and one will find out that it is ok, smarter and quicker to take a lane less traveled.
3. Diversify. As we live through a pandemic, the world is ever-so-changing. Life lessons being learned by many today as we all need to diversify and work harder than ever when the going gets rough. Look at various opportunities and do not allow yourself to be single source reliant in any given industry. Prior to diving into a new field, speak to people from the new field and ask questions. Ask many questions, and work diversity may very well become second nature and broaden one's horizons. This was my younger self and remains one of my characteristics today.
4. Past job experiences can equate to future gains, even when one job has nothing to do with the other. Being an air traffic controller had its advantages. After all, it is probably the best job in the world if you don't let the stress get to you. Certain work ethics that I have today in finance and consulting are attributed towards my career as an ATC. "Delta 316 turn left heading 220 climb and maintain 5000"... the pilot responds immediately, then climbs and turns immediately. What if we responded this way in the real world, how efficient would we all be? This WAS my younger self and it IS what silently echoed in my mind's eye prior to starting the company... although far less lives are at risk when giving instructions ;)
5. Relationship dynamics. I've been able to establish relationships with some of the most amazing souls on earth while mixing paths with others. When something goes wrong, fix it, or do your best to fix it. Whether 20 years old or 70 years old, there are no age restrictions to getting smarter and wiser, nor are there restrictions on who you should get behind and why. I sometimes would rather align myself with someone less educated who solved a problem they caused in real time and life rather than one who had or took an easier road. To mix both the fortuitous with the 'less educated problem solver' is an incredible combination. I'd tell my younger self to look for this dynamic more early and often.
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LinkedIn- Alfred Zaccagnino
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