A pair of Melbourne founders have raised $1 million and launched in over 1,000 stores after just eight months, all thanks to some hard work, “fiscal discipline” and the power of a good cup of tea.
Julie Hirsch and Nicole Lamond first met seven years ago at a creative writing group where the two, surprisingly, bonded over tea, wellness and their fondness for ethical businesses.
At the time, Hirsch was the director of a local environmental NGO, and Lamond was a committee member of Fairtrade Australia and the director of a fairtrade tea distribution business.
“We both wanted to make a healthy and ethical product that was really innovative, and that’s how Eloments was born,” Lamond tells SmartCompany.
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Eloments is a 100% natural vitamin tea, which the two founders claim is a world-first. Hirsch and Lamond spent over two years developing and refining the product, which took them longer than expected.
“When we set out to make it, we knew it would be quite difficult, but we didn’t think it would take two years,” Lamond says.
This was due to the difficulty associated with finding a supplier for 100% natural vitamins and minerals, which ended up being a small family business based in California. Then, it was a matter of developing a process to extract and blend those vitamins into the tea, something which is usually done synthetically.
“We faced a host of manufacturing difficulties when coming up with a new process to blend the nutrients with the tea, and after two years of R&D we came out with a completely new, innovative manufacturing process,” Lamond says.
That process is currently patent pending, and one of the reasons investor Organic X Labs poured $1 million in Series A funding into the venture, which beforehand was bootstrapped with a small amount of family and friends investment.
The money from the raise will be used to keep funding the business and its growth, along with helping the two founders promote the business. Some of it might also be used to hire the company’s first-ever employee, with the two founders being the only employees currently.
“We’ll probably look at expanding the team this year, though we do have a great time just us two,” Hirsch laughs.
“We’re pretty big on fiscal discipline, and we’re still quite focused on our launch phase marketing and telling everyone about our product.”
‘No one’s ever forgotten to have a cup of tea’
One thousand stores might sound like a lot for a company under one year old, but Eloments has benefited significantly from a recent partnership with supermarket giant Woolworths which kicked off at the start of June.
Getting their product on shelves of Woolworths is something the small company feels “really lucky” about, but it’s already setting sights further afield, launching into special tea retail stores in the UK and setting up distribution deals in the Netherlands and Ireland.
Part of the demand the two are seeing for Eloments is born from the ongoing clean food movement, says Lamond, with more consumers putting a focus on sustainability, clean food, and climate change than ever before.
“To some degree that all dovetails together, which results in more discerning shoppers across the board,” she says.
“It’s early days, but the idea is definitely a hit with consumers, those who love tea and also understand the benefits of getting your daily vitamins.
“The problem with supplements is that people forget to buy them, or forget to take them, but no one’s ever forgotten to have a cup of tea each day.”