The Startup Savants podcast offers the opportunity to hear about the stories behind startups, the founders who run them, and the problems they are solving. In this episode, hosts Ethan Peyton and Annaka Voss are joined by Alisa Pospekhova, founder and CEO of Kindroot.
Pospekhova explains what adaptogens are and why they matter. She also discusses her background in marketing, as well as the importance of strong branding. If you’re looking for some excellent, actionable advice about building partnerships and strengthening your brand, tune in to hear what Pospekhova has to say.
From Corporate Marketing to Launching a Wellness Line
Pospekhova’s venture into the wellness industry began on a very personal note. She says that as a child, she was prone to getting coughs and colds. It was a pattern that continued into adulthood and got to the point where she felt driven to take action.
“It was my mid-thirties, I really started trying to figure out the root cause, and I was working with a naturopath. I was working with an herbalist and acupuncturist and went on this whole holistic journey of healing inflammation and just healing some of my immune deficiencies. Of course, a lot of it had to do with taking different herbs and vitamins and really supporting the body in being able to fight off whatever that was happening, and I felt incredible.”
These initiatives, which involved traditional Chinese medicine and herbalism, were rewarded with success; her constitution improved. But many of the herbal concoctions she took were bitter or unpalatable. “Whenever I would try to introduce it to my friends, they were like, “Okay, no kidding, I’m not going to take this. This is absolutely awful.”
She wondered how the remedies might be made more pleasing. “That’s really where it all began. I generally have that attitude of ‘how hard can something be?’ Fast forward, it’s really, really hard, like complete underestimation of the whole process. But that was really the beginning, is it came out of my own need and experience. Ultimately, it evolved into the mission of the company of making things accessible and hoping to be the gateway into this wonderful world of plants and supplements and adaptogens.”
The term “adaptogens” was coined in the early 20th century by the Russian toxicologist Nikolai Lazarev to describe herbal extracts that boosted the body’s defenses against excessive stress. Stress releases hormones, such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol, which over a prolonged period can have a debilitating effect on the body. For example, cortisol suppresses the immune system and inflammatory pathways, and thus our ability to fight off illness is reduced. Several adaptogens are said to enhance the body’s ability to cope with stress, including ashwagandha, which reduces cortisol levels.
Nailing the Brand and Developing Partnerships
The road to launching Kindroot was tough. Pospekhova couldn’t find a manufacturer willing to produce her formulations, so she was forced to make the products herself. The rejections had an upside, however.
Manufacturing the product in-house was, she says, “a very, very important experience because I now know my product inside and out.”
Another advantage of the DIY approach was not having to invest in a large inventory. The outsourced manufacturers would only accept large orders. “I think that I would’ve had to order so much inventory that I don’t even know what I would’ve done with it. Quite honestly, I actually feel like that would’ve been probably detrimental to the business … I was manufacturing them by hand for about eight months before I actually found somebody, but I think I needed those eight months.”
Pospekhova continued on the self-help path. She was still working at a full-time job and funding the venture herself but was open to taking outside capital. “I think that probably at some point, where I envision that point coming in, is having a large partnership with a mass retailer because at that point, it doesn’t just take inventory. It takes awareness, it takes merchandising … I do think that at some point there will be, hopefully, Target coming in or Whole Foods coming in and saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to give you national distribution or even international expansion.’ To me, that would be absolutely the reason, and the right reason, to take money, to take funds and expand.”
Startup Savants Podcast
The Startup Savants podcast casts a spotlight on entrepreneurs who are, in many cases, single handedly disrupting entire industries. Tune in to hear their stories and get the details on how they founded and are operating their business ventures. Hosted by Annaka Voss and Ethan Peyton, the Startup Savants podcast will pull the curtain back on the startup world. Find out if you have what it takes to nurture a startup to success.