Former engineer changes gears to create a different kind of sparkling water with ‘Sound’

Changemakers

Sound sparkling water is not your typical carbonated drink.  

“How it’s different than most sparkling waters on the market is, instead of natural flavors that most sparking waters use, we actually use organic tea, botanicals and fruit extracts,” explained Tommy Kelly, the co-founder of Sound. 

Kelly is not your typical beverage company CEO.  That’s because just seven years ago he was an engineer at Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester. He made the pivot from mechanical engineer to running a beverage company. 

“You know personally, I wanted the crisp cold caffeine experience that soda provided, but without the sweeteners and other preservatives,” said Kelly.   

He started home brewing his own sparkling water infused with organic tea. Kelly’s co-worker, Salim Najjar, shared his passion for a healthier, tasty, carbonated drink. Najjar joined Kelly’s efforts becoming a co-founder of the company.  

“We moonlighted as beverage entrepreneurs while working full time,” explained Kelly. “As we started to get a bit more positive response from the market, we knew it was time to jump in full time and really invest our energy into it.” 

First, they got Sound into a local Whole Foods store in Connecticut, then, slowly expanded to other stores in New York City and across the Northeast.  Sound recently launched on the West Coast. 

“Ultimately, we want to be a market leader in the sparkling beverage category, but what’s next is really growing. It’s getting it into more stores, getting it into more people’s hands,” explained Kelly. “You know we started the business to impact lives in a positive way, we really feel the only way to do that is get more people to drink it.” 

Kelly shared advice for anyone interested in making a change in their lives or career who might feel too afraid to act.

“I think it’s always scarier looking at what it is, than when you’re in it,” he explained. “Making sure there was a legitimate opportunity, so doing a little diligence there. Spending the time and energy to make sure it’s a worthwhile move.” 

After nearly six years on the market, Sound has proved to be a worthwhile move for the former engineer, who now spends his days engineering more ways to make a better beverage for your body. Kelly says their goal is to eventually take Sound global, while keeping the original organic concept of the drinks that they’ve had from the start.  

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