Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Suhas Verma, Founder and CEO of URBL, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
URBL is a premium brand of plant-based functional beverages. The Ayurvedic functional shots were inspired by the old maxim “Let food be thy medicine” and formulated with 24 potent botanicals to provide the most sought-out health benefits such as adaptogens & stress relief, nootropics & brain health, hepatoprotection & liver support, gut happiness, sexual health, antioxidants, natural collagen boost, and plant-based therapeutics.
URBL is the first and the only functional beverage in North America to be licensed by Health Canada as a Natural Health Product (NHP) with approved and verifiable label claims. We provide full transparency on the nutraceutical-strength dosage – no “fairy-dusting” – of our medicinal botanical ingredients. And URBL shots uniquely offer daily dosage of multiple pantry herbs and spices, providing micronutrient benefits of home-cooked meals – it’s a boon for busy individuals.
Our customers are active, adventurous, busy, and health-conscious “flexitarians” who desire to live a holistic lifestyle and have a strong likelihood of prioritizing or trying plant-based products. Whether you’re busy hiking trails, enjoying yoga, traveling the world, or busy with your family or career, URBL fuels you at every step.
Tell us about yourself
URBL Beverages was born out of my deep passion for health & wellness. I spent a good chunk of a decade eating out, and although I was fortunate to still maintain decent health, I was missing the wholesomeness. And this is where I realized the importance of micronutrients - herbs, roots, spices, and condiments – that are staples in home-cooked meals. There was absolutely nothing in the market that easily offered the benefits of such micronutrients in a ready-to-consume product form. And this led to the birth of URBL. And in addition, I have always believed that “life is more than a journey, it’s an adventure, and no adventure can be accomplished without strong health.” This led me to my mission to “inspire people to pursue their adventures” by offering them healthy, wholesome, convenient, and fun products.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am not sure if there is one single thing I can point to, however, I am proud of our team to have created the first licensed functional beverage in North America. It was a grueling 2-year process from conceptualization to formulation, licensing, and the eventual nationwide launch in Canada. I also appreciate our close relationship with UNFI as our distributor – they not only believed in us and launched us nationwide, but they have stood by us through everything from Covid to inflation, supply chain issues, and the slowest retail environment in decades.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing is also probably the most exciting thing in business – it’s the uncertainty embedded in the entrepreneurial journey. You are always figuring things out. And there is never one single right approach. I have always been a “take control” kind of guy, and I had to learn to let go at times and just go with the flow. And everything that transpired from 2020 onwards, right when we received our product license and wanted to launch, took a major portion of the control away from businesses, especially the smaller companies. Delays and surprises became a part of the process, and everyone in the industry had to learn to be patient and go with the flow.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Keep things simple at the beginning – the more complex the product or service offering, the more complex the process will become. And although any challenge can be addressed, it can quickly become overwhelming for a small startup.
- Perfection is certainly an asset, but it can easily turn into an enemy as well – be cognizant of when to be a perfectionist and when it is enough to be just good enough.
- If you don’t enjoy being punched in the face, don’t jump into entrepreneurship.
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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