Unfortunately, not all supplements are created equal in their ability to deliver on their health claims.
Larah Loutati, who grew up in Morocco, had little reason to consider nutritional supplements thanks to her Mediterranean diet full of fresh produce, healthy fats, and lean proteins.
It wasn’t until moving to Australia in 2015 to join the team at HelloFresh, a leading meal kit delivery company, that the consequences of a busy work life led to her feeling burnt out and lethargic.
Loutati sought the advice of a naturopath who worked at her company, who recommended lifestyle changes like reducing caffeine, gentle exercise, and the introduction of vitamin B and zinc supplements to improve the conversion of her food into energy.
“I was a skeptic when it came to supplements, but after a few days I could feel my energy levels improving, so I got hooked!” she said.
“At that moment, I had an epiphany and realised that there was an opportunity to guide consumers through the overwhelming information around health and wellness – and that’s how Vitable was born.”
Building a professional support network
In a sector dominated by powerful, big brand names, Loutati knew she had a challenge ahead of her.
Driven by her passion to create direct-to-consumer products that were tailored to the needs and goals of the customer, she began by doing extensive research and seeking specialist advice.
“My first challenge was knowing where to start. I didn’t have a background in the vitamin industry, and I didn’t know any suppliers or manufacturers,” explained Loutati.
“I started by cold-contacting health experts I found online, and it was amazing how many people were eager to provide me with knowledge, tips and advice. By creating these connections, I was able to surround myself with industry experts who helped me navigate the complexity of creating my own vitamins and supplements.”
Loutati’s next challenge required overcoming her intimidation at the prospect of approaching potential financial investors to get her business up and running.
She started slowly by reaching out to other early-stage business founders for networking catch ups, which helped her build a strong network of Australian start-up investors.
Loutati was also fortunate to have strong support at home from her loved ones, who believed in her vision, and didn’t make her feel guilty about the lifestyle sacrifices of creating a business from the ground up.
“My life partner has been an incredible support,” she said.
“Start-up life can be very busy and challenging at times, and he has always supported me working long hours and sometimes not being available during weekends or evenings.”
Finding a niche in the crowded vitamin industry
As rewarding as her journey has been, Loutati cautions that the vitamin and supplement industry is a complex and difficult one to break into.
“It is heavily regulated and getting access to suppliers and manufacturers when starting off is challenging,” she said.
“Surround yourself with people who have experience in the industry and who are willing to help you.”
Differentiating your brand in a saturated market is no easy feat, but one which Loutati achieved by remaining focused on her vision of ‘disrupting the vitamin industry’ and empowering her customers to make informed choices.
“The current approach to health and wellness is outdated,” she said.
“If you go to the chemist, you’ll see shelves full of thousands of similar bottles with names that you have never heard of before, and it’s all one-size-fits-all products.
“Most people don’t know what vitamins they need, so they purchase different products that may not be required and will end up sitting half empty in their bathroom cabinet. Vitable helps simplify consumer health by offering personalisation, honest guidance and convenience.”
Vitable customers start out by taking a short lifestyle, diet, and health quiz on the Vitable website. The results are analysed using a scientific algorithm to determine which products will help meet any nutritional gaps and support the customer to achieve their identified goals.
Monthly, personalised vitamin packs are then home delivered on a subscription basis, using recyclable and compostable packaging materials.
Vitable also recently launched a smartphone app with in-built reminders to take your vitamins, further reading for those wanting to know more about the products they are taking, and tools to track your progress and see your results more clearly.
“At Vitable, our mission is to simplify consumer health and to support consumers further in their health journey,” said Loutati.
“We believe that we are on this health journey with our customers and love the positive health feedback we receive from those who have already experienced the benefits of taking the Vitable quiz and using our products.”
The success of Vitable demonstrates that it is always possible to pursue new professional pathways, and Loutati encourages anyone considering entrepreneurship to be courageous, and remain open to new opportunities.
“My advice is to start somewhere today – start by taking a small step every day in the right direction, and soon you will look back and see all the progress you have made.”
All images courtesy of Vitable.