Entrepreneur of the Year 2023: Drew Hamilton is filtering out plastic with Vivreau’s water solutions

According to Hamilton, Vivreau has kept four billion plastic bottles from landfills each year

The Kickoff: Drew Hamilton moved to Whistler in 1996 to work as a ski instructor for one season. “And a decade later, I was still there,” he says.

During that time, Hamilton worked with an adventure company to help film and media crews shoot in the mountains safely. He then started dabbling in Hollywood productions—first as an assistant director and then as a producer—adding prominent productions like The X-Files to his resume.

But film, he found, was “a young person’s game.” Around the same time that Hamilton started feeling the weight of those 20-hour workdays, then-mayor Gregor Robertson started talking about hosting the winter Olympics and positioning Vancouver as the greenest city in the world.

“That was a trigger for me,” says Hamilton. Inspired by the mission, in 2008 he took the plunge into sustainability by launching water filtration company Vivreau.

Action Plan: “Vivreau has become a plastic water bottle disruptor across North America,” adds Hamilton. He is working to help hospitality and corporate companies consume water sustainably using water dispensers, bottling systems and service partners. In 2012, Vivreau integrated with German water filtration company Brita, which now stands as its parent company.

When it comes to leadership, Hamilton prefers leaning into love and empathy. During the pandemic, and in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Vivreau employees, like many others, were facing increased levels of stress around financial pressures and societal discrimination. So the company hosted Town Hall meetings online to give people a safe outlet to talk about difficult things.

“We care,” says Hamilton, “and we wanted to make sure we could get through this as a team.”

Closing Statement: With a team of 65 and thousands of clients, Vivreau is experiencing over 30 percent annual growth, according to its founder. Hamilton proudly adds that the company has kept roughly four billion plastic water bottles from landfills every year, and “next year, it’ll be over five billion, and moving onwards from there.”


Do you have a most influential role model?

It’s cliché, but it’s Richard Branson. I like saying it because he’s also a Vivreau client now.

Odd job you’ve had?

Cleaning floors on construction sites in Egypt.