The question of the beginning of the story of Source Nutrition comes back regularly. We wrote a synthetic version in "About, but we wanted to write a more personal version, here it is.
Summer 2015: Better nutrition at hand?
Summer 2015: I have eaten whole meals to drink (nutrient mix) for a few months, because they allow food to feed quickly and food is selected to reach a quantified nutritional target.
We are friends from our engineering school with Alexis, and for years we have been dissatisfied with the food supply. We are the two who " always seek to eat well in our groups of friends. So when I bring my nutritional mix back to Alexis, these scientifically designed meals are the subject of an unbridled discussion. Especially Alexis, who is more pointed than I am in nutrition, is not convinced about the health aspect.
These meals are balanced on macronutrients (lipids, proteins, carbohydrates), but this does not guarantee the quality of these macronutrients. You can have enough lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, and be nutritionally poor. If we ate sugar, oil and protein only, it seems clear to us that we would be in poor health.
The nutrient mix is mostly built with refined ingredients and food additives. Yet, nutrition coverage is much stronger with more comprehensive and diverse foods. To obtain carbohydrate intake from fruits or cereals adds refined sugar to the complex nutrients of these plants: diversity of fibre forms, macronutrients, micronutrients, phytonutrients. It is the same difference as between an artificial light that does not cover the light spectrum and natural light: spectrum diversity is important, and it is now known that the full spectrum of natural light is necessary to be in good health.
In particular, we regret in these meals the total absence of phytonutrients proven to be necessary to remain healthy. Nutrition is a complex science, not limited to the three categories of macronutrients and vitamins and minerals!
In summary, we are rapidly approaching the current problem of our diet:
Good for health but long, expensive and complicated
The discussion crystallizes on this observation: we can either eat quickly, for example, these meals in powder (but nutritionally debatable), or eat well, but at the price of an important complexity, because it is necessary to:
- Knowing what to consume: where to buy, what types of food
- Having the time to buy ... and regularly, as many fresh foods pass quickly
- Being able to cook or consume: there is not always a kitchen available, or the time to prepare meals, and even for consumption, it is not always obvious (by car, hiking or skiing, for example)
- Power to pay: Good food is expensive, fresh, organic, good quality food is much more expensive than basic quality food
If these powdered meals are full of promises to have access to a fast and convenient diet, Alexis proposes to show that we can do better. Sugars added, elevated salts, ingredients without verification of contamination and refined ingredients ... There are many things that can be improved. Like any technophile, we dreamed of the existence of meal in capsules, and these powdered meals are what is closest to them, but we must be able to guarantee the health criterion.
Alexis is therefore starting to seek to verify that it is possible to produce an excellent diet for health, to drink. A kind of Proof Of Concept (POC).
The goal is to check the price feasibility of course, but it is really not the most difficult. We need to check the possibility of achieving our nutritional targets, with the stability of ingredients and their health in powder form. The most difficult is to find suppliers of good quality and who offer their ingredients in powder form. Above all, " good quality is difficult to define. For us, the decisive criterion is " that we want to consume ourselves at least once a day, that is to say the most free of toxic contaminants (the label " Bio often allows to answer this question), and rich nutritionally because we want to be in full shape!
The target is therefore a meal built to be the best possible for health, for a standard adult profile, active, healthy.
Fall 2015: First versions of Vitaline and proof of concept
A few weeks later we have a formula made only from natural ingredients, often Bio and nutritionally rich. The taste is not perfect, but we think we can improve the recipe as we go. For us the main thing is that the nutritional quality is excellent: we prefer to make efforts on the taste rather than to accept a compromise on our health. In particular, we choose organic as much as possible to ensure low levels of contaminants, so that we can carry out extensive tests on each ingredient.
In October 2015, we consume these early versions of what will be Vitaline at about 50 % of our diet (and this figure has only made progress!).
First conclusion: we are too happy to eat an excellent meal for our health in a few minutes. With our research to eat well, each meal takes a long time and is a subject of stress when we don't know what's in it. With Vitaline, we know what we eat, and it takes 5 minutes to prepare for it.
The effects on our body are positive: better digestion and sensation of intestinal lightness, no post-prandial fatigue (especially useful for lunch). Good sports performance and good muscle recovery. According to the theory, we could expect it: we eat less sweet, better fat, more protein, and Vitaline is rich in micronutrients and phytonutrients. We are becoming more and more satisfied with the taste. We are increasingly testing our friends, family and close friends to take their returns.
Thibault Barnier, who was in the initial discussions of the project is our first big consumer outside the team since December 2015 (~ 30 meals per month - High five !).
Winter 2015: the Vitaline adventure becomes reality
We went on Christmas holidays with Vitaline full of our suitcases to test the first sales to our loved ones. Besides, the use of Vitaline in skiing is frankly the solution to the eternal problem of standard ski day: how to manage lunch? Altitude restaurant: expensive and long, sandwich: super heavy, difficult to relaunch ... Vitaline is really a great solution.
These early sales trials have worked well and we are even more enthusiastic about ski use. So when we go home we continue to sell, and let's start distributing them by bike in Paris ... And we've never stopped selling since.
Spring-summer 2016: production ramp up, Alexis accepts a consultancy mission
Since we succeed in putting in place the first bricks of the product, we ask ourselves the question of the next steps to build society.
- Should we seek to raise funds, at the risk of consuming a lot of time without being sure of the result? Especially at this stage where we still don't have a lot of business results.
- Should we focus on product and sales, at the risk of not structuring society enough?
- Should we, on the contrary, structure the society: recruit, train, start delegating, take a local ... at risk of scaling too quickly, which is often cited as the first reason for failure of the startups 1 ?
At the time of these reflections, Alex's former employer made him a freelance mission proposal. It is in the food supplements sector, therefore close to our problems and this mission would finance the company for a few months.
He accepts this advisory mission, despite the time he will not be able to work on society, it is a compromise that we accept to give us financial advance.
Alex will be on this mission until the end of September 2016.
During this period, I take care of finding offices, making the first recruitments, structuring the first processes of the company ...
Until now we had no company: it was filed on April 4th, 2016. This is the moment when the first administrative hats arrive. We are in charge of production in parallel, and it takes too long for me to make communication.
October 2016: start of communication and increase in sales
We have stabilized a good base ofEarly-adopters, which allow us to have regular returns on the taste of new formulas, to have a sufficient volume of production to increase our experience curve and improve our processes. We are also making progress on procurement: to be able to move from increasingly large volumes of order opens the door to new suppliers, to which we have no access on a small scale.
In the autumn, with Alexis who finished his mission of advice and is now 100 % on Vitaline, we can devote more energy to communication. We open our blog, and let's start communicating on social networks.
Sales are increasing, we have previously sold to relatives and close relatives, we are selling more and more to the general public that we do not know. In parallel we are making progress on the product: on November 17, 2016 we announce our version 5, which is healthier, better performing and better in taste. This version also generates a significant increase in sales.
We work in parallel on a solution for fatty acids (very difficult to find good fatty acids, in a form that does not oxidize ... we will talk about it:)), new tastes, and improve our current versions.
We have lots of improvements in the boxes, we look forward to being able to enjoy it!
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