The Welltodo Founder Series is London’s leading event series for forward-thinking brands, startups, influencers and investors in the wellness industry. This week, we were invited to attend the event and hear from some of the industry’s top entrepreneurs, on what it takes to run a successful wellness business in today’s market.
The speakers at the event included our client and founder of boutique fitness brand Barrecore, Niki Rein, Jack Tang, co-founder of mobile massage therapy brand, Urban (formerly Urban Massage), and Kristina Komlosiova, co-founder of healthy-eating service Pollen + Grace. Here’s some pointers we learnt from this panel of experts:
Having all launched their businesses in the last five to ten years, the panellists agreed that one of the key reasons for success so far has been down to building a strong community environment. When customers and staff feel like a little community, they’ll continuously support the business and its development.
Jack Tang pointed out another important aspect of this; “Coffee! Where possible, take your clients or staff or anyone who is willing to talk to you, out for a coffee. Discuss the business with them, ask them about their experiences and learn about the pain points of your product from them.”
“When a community of clients feels like they are on the journey with you, it’s more likely to continue growing and succeeding.” Kristina Komlosiova added.
Niki Rein, who has opened 10 London Barrecore studios and is now expanding to the franchise market also adds, “When growing your community, it’s also important not to do a cut and paste job. Listen to each local environment within your community and understand the different needs.”
An element all the founders stressed the importance of was establishing core values early on and sticking to them. “Stick to your guns! I knew that I was good at coding and knew the product we wanted to end up with so for me, it was easy to stay passionate about it. But there are those who will question your original ideas and try steer you into other directions. If your gut tells you that you’re right, then stand by your decision and map out your core values early on.” Jack gave this advice to the audience about pinning down your values early in the brand journey.
Sometimes, a founder of a wellness brand has to wear many hats, some of which they may or may not be comfortable with. Niki Rein advised, “There are times when people doubt you, doubt that you can do a good job on all the different elements. I remember having to find studio spaces early on and being overwhelmed with all the building aspects of choosing a studio. Now it’s almost second nature and I reckon I could become an estate agent in my next life! Back yourself, trust that if you don’t know something, you can learn it!”
If there’s something all the founders agreed on, it was not taking no for the final answer. Kristina’s brand, Pollen + Grace went from strength to strength through constant chasing on suppliers, exhibitors and buyers. “You just have to keep emailing the right people! Keep yourself and your brand top of mind and they’ll eventually start listening, it just takes grit and determination. If I think back to how we started Pollen + Grace, we were just handing out flyers around Hammersmith for hours on end, but it just demonstrates how success is the result of belief and perseverance”
CAPITAL VS CROWD-FUNDING
Fun fact; the wellness industry is now worth a whopping $4.5trillion, and it’s only growing. The founders of this panel all had different strategies for sourcing funding for their businesses but each agreed that learning the pros and cons of all the different markets, the financial jargon and the hoops that need to be jumped through for financial stability – was one of the toughest parts of the job!
“My recommendation would be to do your homework. Don’t rely on advisors and finance people to give you all the details, learn for yourself first and trust your instincts.” Kristina offered, having achieved crowd-funding success in the second stage of Pollen + Grace’s growth.
What all the founders unanimously agreed on was that finding success with any business does not come without its setbacks and challenges.
Kristina and her co-founder had well-established careers before they resigned to start Pollen + Grace. “Our friends and family were in shock when we told them we’d quit our jobs. It was a massive risk and a real struggle financially at times, but if you believe in yourself and your brand, you’ll never regret giving it a chance”.
Jack added, “Don’t be afraid to take setbacks as opportunities to grow. We rented out an apartment for ourselves and used it as an office base too. Living off of baked beans for a little while isn’t the end of the world when you have that bigger picture in the back of your mind.”
“Price is always a tricky differentiator too. People are immediately taken aback by costs of wellness-based offerings. For Barrecore, the biggest challenge was sticking to the value of each class when there were pressures to bring it down. But it goes back to your core values, if you know your worth, know the brand’s worth, you’ll show them why it’s ultimately a cost they could and should prioritise.” Niki offered as her response on this point.
All the founders emphasised the importance of investing in the growth of their businesses through strategized branding, marketing and PR.
Thinking back to the early days of Urban Massage, Jack recalled, “We discovered that the secret to growing a business successfully was building its authenticity and trust and the secret to that trust was repeated exposure. We made sure wherever you looked, you would see Urban, whether it was on your walk to work or on an ad on Facebook, we made sure Urban was out there. I can’t stress enough how important it is to invest in your branding and marketing, not just financially but with your time too.
The panel could not be dismissed without covering the omnipresent issue of the growth of technology and whether this will cause problems for the founders’ businesses or future wellness businesses to come.
“I believe that with the growth of technology comes great accessibility, but I also know that what businesses and consumers crave and will continue to crave is human interaction” adds Niki. “There is something magical about that face to face connectivity with your clients that cannot be beaten”.
Keeping a watchful eye on the market and ensuring your business is adapting to social change was another key tip expressed by all the founders.
“It’s pivotal for a business to react to trends and continue to better their products as a result” Kristina stated. “If young brands in the wellness industry pioneer change, it will inspire bigger, more established brands to follow suit.”
“I used to look at what other countries and markets were doing to help influence my strategy here in the UK,” Niki Rein offered as an addition to this point, “but now with the world becoming a more connected and fast-paced entity, I think we’re leaders in this field and if we have a bright idea, we should just go for it!”
With trends consistently changing and becoming more important to brand’s and the collective consumer experience, Welltodo put together a Trends Report every year which details the changes and includes expert comment, insight and statistics from global business leaders. If you’d like to purchase the 2020 trends report from Welltodo, sign up to their portal here.
If you’re interested in starting a wellness business or learning more about Welltodo’s Founder Series, check out their weekly podcast (where this specific event will also be hosted digitally) for tips and insights.