Hampton man behind spiked water. DrinkNOCA
HAMPTON -- Growing up visiting his grandparents in the Hampton area, Richard Roy shopped often with his family in stores like Cigarette City in Seabrook.
This week, the 25-year-old Roy pulled his own brand of alcoholic beverage - the non-carbonated spiked water NOCA - from the shelves of that same store, since renamed The City. He and two University of New Hampshire classmates released NOCA almost two weeks ago in about 75 stores and soon plan to enter Massachusetts.
“Seeing NOCA on the shelves here is an incredible feeling,” said Roy, who left behind a finance job at Goldman Sachs last year to focus on NOCA. He said having one known competitor in the non-carbonated spiked water market - Pura Still - has him confident there is room for even more growth.
“There’s only one other player on the market,” said Roy. “I think we’re a really strong competitor for it.”
Roy grew up in Gilford, but the Hampton area was his second home, with grandparents living in both Seabrook and Hampton. When he became an adult he grew to enjoy concerts and bars on the Hampton Beach strip like Bernie’s Beach Bar.
Roy met his future partners Alex Febonio and Galen Hand in the Atkins Investment Group, a student group at UNH that manages an investment fund under the guidance of faculty advisers. They each took jobs after graduating in 2016 at investment firms around the country and kept in contact by sending ideas to each other in hopes of working together.
Hand was the first to leave his job at a firm in Chicago last July so he could brainstorm ideas for a future startup, returning to his home in Newmarket. In the following weeks, Roy said Hand brought up his idea for a spiked water with no carbonation.
“He was mowing the lawn,” Roy said. “He had a seltzer. The carbonation was really hurting his stomach. He was like, ‘Why hasn’t anyone come up with a non-carbonated version of this?’”
Roy said Hand searched for non-carbonated spiked waters and was surprised none existed, Pura Still yet to be released at that point. He convinced Roy and Febonio to jump in with him, Roy leaving Goldman Sachs in what he said was a risky move.
“You’re giving up a lot of stability,” Roy said. “To leave that behind and sort of pick up everything, move back here for essentially no income was a big challenge.”
NOCA, manufactured in a facility in Maryland, currently comes in three flavors - Dragon Fruit Mango, Triple Berry and Watermelon Lime. It has 1 gram of sugar, 95 calories and 4.5 percent alcohol by volume. Roy and his partners are marketing their drink as “everything but the bubbles,” and he said the target market is millennials age 21 to 35 seeking a healthy lifestyle.
“Everyone wants a healthier and healthier and healthier drink, and they want to live their life to the fullest in an uncompromising way,” Roy said. “That’s what this allows.”