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Meet the Founders - Viktual+

The dietary supplements market is expected to grow to $272 billion by 2028, and one Kiwi company is hoping to get in on the action.

Victual is a word that means ‘food supplies and provisions’. It is the inspiration behind the name of supplement company Viktual+, one of the start-ups taking part in our three-month Sprout 2022 Accelerator in the Cohort VIII intake. Vikutal+ is the only wellbeing supplement that combines ancient Māori and Pasifika wisdom, New Zealand’s purest ingredients and science.

Meet the founders Rochelle and Tana Umaga. After a quick diversion through the skincare sector, the husband and wife duo started their journey into the health and wellness sector.

“Rochelle started making her own skincare incorporating native ingredients to it. Her friends told her she should sell it. Me being me, I wanted to be involved too, but we quickly found it was a tough industry to break into, especially with no experience or connections,” said Tana.

Supplements were the next logical step, which allowed them to incorporate their heritage into their creation.

“We’re incredibly proud of where we are from, so including Māori and Pasifika ingredients is what makes sense for us and what makes us unique. It allows us to showcase our culture,” said Rochelle.

Launching a business into a largely unknown industry is a massive undertaking, but teamwork has made dreamwork for Tana and Rochelle, who are combining their individual skills to make their aspirations become a reality.

Despite the lack of experience and connections, they knew they wanted to make a go of it. With hours of research into native ingredients and their traditional uses, much time spent trying to find the right connections and perfect their formulation and everything in-between, they’ve made big strides to their ultimate goal; to become a global brand known for the added goodness of New Zealand and Pasifika native ingredients.

“Given the projected growth of the industry for 2028, we think we’re at a great stage in our journey to jump on that growth. The biggest consumers are the Asia- Pacific region and the USA, so that’s where we want to be headed when we jump into that global space,” said Tana.

The two found a food technologist to work with to get their formulation just right. The hardest part of it is getting the taste right.

“We had eight taste tests and even took our kids to one. We’ve had great customer feedback and are happy with it now, but it took some time.”

COVID threw a massive spanner in the works for them. Having had great success at food shows, great customer feedback to validate their product and plans for a country-wide road trip to help spread the word about Viktual+, their plans were put on hold when the country went into lockdown. This meant a whole different way of learning and starting their business from what they had planned.

“I’m the sort of person who likes to do things face to face, I like to sit down and talk with people. We suddenly had to do everything on the computer. We didn’t know who the people we needed to talk to, so setting up a zoom wasn’t easy. You normally network at events and get chatting to people who point you in the right direction, but that was made harder with the lockdowns, so we had to adapt.”

Their ability to adapt and change has held them in good stead on their journey. Now they are at the point where in order to grow the business to achieve their goals, they need to grow their team. Like getting their formulation for their product right, their focus will be on creating the perfect team.

“We know we need to build our team, but whoever we bring on has to align with us, the way we operate and with our values. Our business is founded on values that have roots in our heritage, so that’s a really important element.”

Find out more about our Sprout Accelerator.