How has AAVALABS changed since the beginning?
When we started AAVALABS back in 2011 we were just a small, unknown family business. Most of the things were done by our own family members and friends, whether it was developing, packing or testing the products.
Over the years things have changed quite a bit. Our team as well as our product range have grown steadily. We´ve also expanded sales to a number of new markets and launched our own online shop in 2018. Today we are an international company with team members spread across the globe.
In this blog post we want to give you some idea, how things have changed since our early startup days.
The early days of AAVALABS
As you might know already, our founder Otso was born in Finland. He grew up like most Finnish children: spending lots of time in nature, enjoying outdoor activities and eating fresh seasonal foods.
The initial idea for starting a supplement brand was influenced by multiple factors: Otso´s passion for health and fitness, his background in brand building, his love for nature and his mother, who is a medical doctor. The first supplement formulas were literally “home-made” around the kitchen table. The goal was to develop products that were different from the ones available in the market. Otso wanted the products to be as pure as possible, natural and effective while not forgetting the importance of design.
Starting AAVALABS was the logical next step.
From a family project to a real business
Like any startup, funds were limited in the early days. That meant that most of the tasks were done by a tiny team from financial planning to marketing, from logistics to shop building, from copy writing to customer service, from packing to shipping. The early days were long and intense!
A quote by Tommi, our CFO, illustrates it pretty well: “I used to have a role that is now divided between 7 different people.”
So what has changed since?
Besides hiring more people, one of the biggest turning points in the last few years was getting Libby on board as the Head of Product Development. Her expertise in nutritional science and supplement development made our R&D and Purchasing much more professional.
Having an expert on board has also helped us with registering products in new markets, improving our communication and answering customer inquiries even better than before.
Today all our products go through multiple rounds of validation before they are put through as an actual physical product.
Previously we were often forced to rely on help from agencies and consultants, now we can solve the majority of the work inhouse.
Setting up structures and processes
A major difference to the past is that we are much more structured and organized. In early days, when everyone on the team had to juggle multiple hats, things used to get quite hectic.
Responsibilities were not always clearly defined, and oftentimes there was simply no person available to handle extra work. As a result we spent our first years in business hustling and learning through trial and error.
Things started to slowly take shape in 2017 when we were able to hire more people and invested more resources in our multilingual customer service. Another big step was the launch of our online shop in 2018.
For the first year Germany was the first and most important Ecom market. In 2019 and 2020 we have gradually expanded to several other countries, and our online shop now operates in six different languages.
Since 2019 we launched a record number of new products, most of them 100% vegan. Some of our best selling products launched in the last two years include Vegan Omega 3, Triple Zinc, Premium Probiolac.
In 2020 we focused mainly on building better processes. The aim was to optimize workflows and make sure we have a solid foundation to build on in the future - something that we didn't have the time to focus on before.
Building good teams
When we started out there were no clearly defined roles, KPI´s or guidelines. This changed when Carlota joined our team as our HR Manager.
We not only professionalized our recruitment and onboarding process, but also worked out the tasks and responsibilities of each team member.
We actually now have KPIs for everyone and there are clearly defined roles and responsibilities. We also have actual frameworks for how we function. In the beginning there was none.
One thing that we’ve seen is that when new people come on board they mention that we have more structure than a bigger company without the massive amount of hierarchies.
Last but not least we have invested time and resources in team building efforts. This has been important since within a remote company there are always people moving in and out, we have improved on that significantly.
Looking into the future
We just completed our annual review. We realized that 2020 was an important year to solidify what we had built previously and lay the groundwork for further growth - despite all the unexpected challenges caused by the pandemic.
We are looking into the future with confidence. Our next plans involve expansions to new exciting markets overseas, new product innovations and hopefully also more real-life team activities.
Despite all the changes our mission remains the same: Our goal is to provide people around the world tools for a healthy life, by giving them a daily dose of Nordic vitality!