Bottled Water Experiment

Purpose of Experiment: To prove my make money with no money business ideas can work.

Hypothesis: It is possible to take less than $10 in startup capital and make money.

Experiment: Buy a 24-pack of bottled water and sell it on the side of the road. Possibly utilize the labor of pan-handlers.


Step 1:
I went to my local H.E.B. grocery store the previous night of the experiment and purchased a 24-pack of Dasani water for $5.99.

I put the water in the fridge overnight to let it chill.

Step 2:
Quick Research.
On the way to a party, I stopped to ask a bum what would happen if I sold water by the highway alongside other bums, and it didn’t seem like a pretty picture. He told me, “You are a rich college student, and the guy at the corner is trying to get a meal, the hungry guy won’t be too happy with you.”

To get around this, I wanted to partner with one of the regular bums who knows the in’s and out’s of panhandling. I made an agreement to meet at 3:00pm with this guy, William Austin to sell bottled water with me. I told him whether we sold all the water or not, I would give him $10 for his help.

The picture didn’t come out so well, but in person he was all smiles and very jovial.

I also didn’t want to get arrested or fined. A few nights ago I stopped to ask two very courteous police officers what they would do if they saw me selling water without a permit. One replied, “I can’t speak for every officer, but personally I wouldn’t bother you unless you start causing problems.”

So I now had a partner and no real threat of legal action. The experiment was on for 3:00pm on Sunday Afternoon!

Step 3:
An hour before the experiment I bought two bags of ice for $1.29 each. I packed the ice and water into a cooler.

I could only fit 15 bottles in my cooler, so I improvised and put the remaining 8 bottles directly into the ice bags with ice. I then double wrapped them with clean garbage bags for easy carrying.

Step 4:
Withdrew $20 in case I needed change and to pay my partner.

Step 5:
I made this nifty “Water $1” t-shirt by taking on old shirt, turning it inside out (it had a logo on the front) and using a permanent marker to write on it.

I had a feeling this little gimmick would work very well.

Step 6:
Went out to go SELL SOME WATER. I went to look for William Austin at 3:00pm by the local Blockbuster like we agreed. When he didn’t show up I asked another bum to show me where he lived. I found him under a bridge, red-eyed and looking extremely tired. He hardly remembered who I was and said he had to cancel on me.

Step 7:
A bit disappointed, I went alone to the highly trafficked intersection of I-35 and Riverside Drive. There I met a bum named Barry:

I’ve seen Barry before. He is one of the bums that holds funny signs like, “I gave up caviar for Lent” and “I need new wheels for my limo”

I told Barry about my water experiment, and promised to give him $10 for an hour of his time/expertise, regardless of how many bottles he sold. He was more than happy to help. We shook on the deal and became instant business partners!

Step 8:
START SELLING. Barry knew a little about water selling. He told me to hold three bottles at once and start walking down the idle lanes of traffic yelling “Water Water!” Barry put the “Water $1” shirt on and started selling water like a champ! I stood on a different corner in my plain clothes and started selling. My first sale came within 6 seconds of starting (and it was a $2.00 sale!)

In less than 30 mintues we sold all 24 bottles.

Click HERE to see a video of Barry in action. (1 MB video)

Click HERE to see our progress after about 25 minutes. (1.5 MB video)

Step 9:
Tabulate results:

Me: 14 Bottles
Barry: 10 Bottles

So to make a better profit, one would need to: Preferably perform the experiment by themselves, buy cheaper water, buy only one bag of ice instead of two, buy more than 24 bottles.

CONCLUSION: Selling bottled water can be much more lucrative than sitting on your couch on a lazy afternoon!

You also maybe wondering how to sell bottled water yourself, well here’s a quick cheat sheet:

  • Pick a moderately hot day.
  • Buy a cheap case of water.
  • Put the water in ice an hour before you sell to cool it down.
  • Make a sign or shirt that says “Ice Cold Water $1”.
  • Stand on the busiest street corner you can find and yell “Water Water Water!”
  • Best of luck :)

UPDATE: Bottled Water Experiment Part 2