Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ronak Shah, CEO of Obvi, located in Kearny, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At Obvi, our mission is to become the OBVIous choice for core health and beauty products in every household. Every product released at Obvi, starting from The World’s Most Advanced Collagen Formula to our Complete kid’s Protein line, which is the host of the most complete vitamin+ protein profile in Kid’s protein, we have one objective in mind: present the most obvious choice of transparent products which present real results without having to sacrifice taste or formulation. Our mission at its core is not only to deliver products that make you look and feel good inside and out but also to make sure we never sacrifice taste and efficacy.
Every product, from concept to ideation to production, formalizes around unique blends that are first to market with our end consumer in mind. We want our consumers to look, feel, and taste our product and truly walk away saying, “This really is the obvious choice .”Until we succeed in becoming the obvious choice in healthy & beauty in every household, our mission is not complete.
Tell us about yourself
Obvi wasn’t a random idea born overnight. In fact, Obvi comes with a lot of history, 6 years to be exact! The three of us co-founders, who double as best men at each other’s weddings, have been working in the health and wellness space, servicing other brands with our unique skill sets for the last 6 years. We always wanted to start our own brand in the wellness and Nutra-cosmetic space but wanted to take years to learn what to do and what not to do while studying other brands. We saw an opportunity to disrupt the Nutra-cosmetic category in 2019, so we jumped right into R&D. We saw the double-digit rise in the collagen market, but we also saw it was lacking something. How can something that is proving to be an imperative product for all of us to supplement in our bodies look so boring and “unflavored”? With 90% of the market for collagen being built around “pharmaceutical” looking brands and unflavored products, we believed that we could bring excitement, youthful fun, and playfulness by combining flavor and high-quality ingredients in the category. People are constantly looking for supplements that taste good, and we wanted to bring that to the collagen space.
Collectively, the three of us lived in 500 sq ft apartments and always undervalued our skillsets by providing the best value to the client. Evidentially, we never built wealth before it came time to start Obvi. We had $3,000 each to put into starting Obvi. Our initial PO was $8,900, and we went all in. Fast forward 30 months, for a bootstrapped business that started with a $9,000 investment, I’d say $25,000,000 in sales is not too shabby. It was gut-wrenching to start a business where we had to make money AND profit from day 1 since we had no experience with raising capital and no additional capital commitments. However, we trusted that our skillset and visions are what we’re really betting on here. It’s been one of the most fruitful experiences to bet on yourself.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Breaking stigmas is something I have been doing all my life. Being a first-generation Indian American, I’ve always had to think a little harder and work a little differently on how to come up with my solution for almost everything; this truly served as the root of my entrepreneurial spirit. From early on, I learned to ask more questions and probe for more answers, often leading me to paths of persevering new journeys. I set out on a journey to build Obvi, a brand that normalizes collagen as part of our daily diets without sacrificing taste and convenience. Upon our launch in June 2019, I told myself one thing, “No matter the growth or revenue, we want to educate first, empower second, and provide third.” Fast forward 30 months, Obvi has broken through the stigma in 250,000+ homes across 75+ countries globally. With $25 Million+ in revenues, we’ve been able to educate our customer base on why collagen is as important as any other protein source. With a growing community, we have empowered 45,000+ customers and fans to converse in real time about their results with Obvi, both good and bad, making a true social impact.
Building Obvi has required us to take risks we didn’t think we would encounter. For example, we secured a licensing deal with Entenmann’s, which cost us $150,000 upfront. We didn’t have the money for this, so we owners let our salaries go for 6 months to make this brand equity play possible, and in turn, it has paid off 10-fold over. Without raising any capital, every dollar we spent needed to make $3. We would watch our sales and spending sometimes by the HOUR to make sure we find ways to achieve success since we had no other choice but to make this work within our means. Fighting through the struggles of covid led supply chain issues required us to dish out more capital to prepare for the worst. One thing that never changed was our resiliency to overcome any challenge we face because we didn’t stop believing in the impact Obvi would make.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The woman left behind in a new world is the woman I built Obvi for. The new world is a wonderful place with brands and services catering to the entire world in a more sustainable and “cleaner” way. Most brands today share characteristics like being keto-friendly, having a sustainable narrative, gluten-free, sugar free, all-natural, vegan-friendly, and non-GMO. Although all the above are great claims and huge benefits to our bodies and this planet, we are forgetting that this shift is leaving women behind who are still struggling with everyday problems like eating fast food or candy bars or simply not working out at all. We committed to building a brand that will help the woman who felt left behind by giving her products that work well, taste good, and make them feel even better. Today, when I talk to my customers, I know the impact we have made through the testimonials they provide.
For the last 18 months, I have called our top 100 customers every quarter. I talk to each of our community members in our Facebook group. I want to understand what they want and how I can make it come alive. The entire brand is built on a consumer-centric level. Besides the first 2 SKUs we launched, the following 24 SKUs were chosen by our customers and community via a survey. We epitomized the idea of building a brand centered around our purpose and vision to serve the forgotten few.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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