Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dr. Fatima Khan, Co-Founder of Riven, located in Houston, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
At Riven, we believe the mouth is a gateway and a mirror to the health and disease of the entire body. Our brand is raising awareness of strengthening your oral microbiome. We make oral care products that help you achieve a cleaner and healthier mouth by taking a natural and holistic approach. We are a BIPOC-founded, dentist-formulated brand. We are 100% sustainable, beautifully designed, and we use clean, natural, vegan ingredients that are backed by science. Riven's flagship product is the Riven Rinse, which is a mouthwash designed to strengthen your oral microbiome using a mix of Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Antioxidants. It is designed to ensure that your mouth is healthy and works the way nature intended it to. We add more of the good bacteria your mouth already has, leading to better oral hygiene outcomes. Think of the Riven Rinse as a multivitamin for your mouth in the form of a mouthwash. It's everything you need to support a strong and healthy mouth. The Riven Rinse is made for everyone to strengthen your oral microbiome.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a first-generation Pakistani American, and education was paramount at a young age. I have a diverse background in healthcare. I had the opportunity to contribute to the healthcare industry as a nurse, nutritionist, adjunct professor, and Dentist. I have a bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science, a master's degree in Biomedical Science, and Doctorate in Dental Medicine. I am currently practicing Dentistry in Houston, TX. I am the co-founder of Riven oral care, a probiotic-based mouthwash that helps you achieve a healthier, cleaner mouth and strengthen your oral microbiome. My journey to Riven started off as a personal one. A few years ago, I went through a very challenging time in my life. The high level of stress and anxiety took a toll on my body. I started suffering from migraines, grinding of teeth at night, dry mouth, bleeding gums, hair loss, and eventually bronchitis and halitosis due to the phlegm.
I was seeing several healthcare professionals for all those symptoms and even had to get dental work done. After that, I became meticulous with my oral hygiene regimen and started using products I used to recommend to my patients. I realized they all came with side effects, dry mouth, staining, pH change, and bacteria imbalance. That harsh feeling from products felt similar to antibiotics. They get rid of good and bad bacteria and cause side effects. However, nobody would suggest taking antibiotics every day for the rest of your life, knowing they diminish the friendly microbes. Then why would we suggest such harsh oral care products? I thought to myself, what if I had oral side effects due to an imbalance of oral bacteria, and if I strengthened my oral microbiome, the symptoms would improve? This curiosity is what led me to my journey of nourishing our mouths instead of sterilizing. Although the story was unique to me, the oral issues are common amongst many people due to the products they are using, stress, or several environmental factors. However, strengthening and balancing your oral microbiome will help achieve positive outcomes.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My greatest accomplishment has been positive reviews from patients and the press. Being able to be a part of multiple accelerator programs that help guide new entrepreneurs. These programs teach you a step-by-step approach to scale and transition to mass retail; they connect you with new and veteran entrepreneurs and provide resources that early start-ups do not have access to. They do a deep dive into legal, marketing, packaging, and supply chain. They prepare you for line reviews and help with your pitch. You gain immense knowledge from these programs.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
We had several hiccups along the way. I am sure many people can relate. I think finding a manufacturing company to take on this task was difficult. It required a lot of testing, critical thinking, and collaboration with formulators, chemists, microbiologists, and dentists for the vision to come together. Our glass bottles shattered in transit to the manufacturing team, and our timeline was behind. Many people suggested moving to plastic, but it went against our beliefs. We had to wait for the new inventory to arrive. We had issues with our logistics team and packages not arriving on time. I had to work with our 3PL partners to resolve any backend problems. Thankfully, we were able to solve problems quickly, and that is the most valuable tool of being an entrepreneur. If an issue arises, being able to solve them promptly.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Network with other entrepreneurs and find a trusted mentor. Attend entrepreneur network events and tradeshows to find like-minded people who are doing the same thing and can help guide you. Look for accelerator programs to join. Most importantly, if you believe in something, give it your all, even if people try to talk you out of it. Trust your intuition.
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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