Interview With Alisa Pospekhova
Describe your product or service:
“Formulated by a master herbalist and blended by a Candy Hall of Fame scientist, Kindroot Adaptogems is the new breakthrough supplement disrupting the wellness category.
Combining smooth delivery, sensory benefits of aromatherapy, and healing properties of plants, Kindroot aims to help bring a little ‘reset’ to everyday lives. Encouraging all to be sweet to themselves so they can inspire others to do the same, the company introduced its first range of functional plant lozenges aimed at supporting most common needs like Focus, Mood, Snooze, Immunity, and Glow.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Our mission is to make herbs and supplements understandable and accessible to everyone. With Kindroot, there is no need to live ‘the influencer lifestyle’ or to sacrifice your daily favorites. We make our products delicious and easy for any lifestyle and routine.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“We're a team of one. Kindroot was founded by Alisa Pospekhova, a health and wellness enthusiast, avid yogi, and aspiring herbalist. Having felt the transformative power of holistic nutrition and plant-based supplements for management of her own auto-immune condition, she set out to develop a line of fun and accessible supplements that people would actually look forward to taking. Prior to serving as CEO of Kindroot, Alisa spent 15 years building and managing healthy food, wellness, and beauty brands across the globe, having held senior-level marketing positions at Unilever, The Wonderful Company, Nestle, and Manduka Yoga. Alisa lives in Seal Beach, California, and in her free time continues her education in holistic medicine, herbalism, and yoga.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“I battled autoimmune and respiratory conditions since childhood and, finally, in my 30s and after working with a holistic doctor, I felt transformative effects of adaptogens and other herbs on my own health and energy levels.
But I found most herbs unpleasant to take and difficult to incorporate into my daily routine, especially because my job often took me traveling where I didn’t have access to blenders, nor could I bring heavy tinctures with me on the plane. I saw a need to create a supplement that would be nourishing but also would be both convenient and fun to take — and that is how the idea for a functional vitamin and herbal lozenge was born. At Kindroot, we blend beneficial ingredients into slow-melting lozenges that are enhanced with aromatherapy-inspired flavors for a full-body sensory effect that is convenient anytime and anywhere!”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Kindroot is a blend of two words that are significant to our product and ethos. Many of the vitamin and herbal ingredients that are nurturing to our bodies come from the roots of the plants and are a kind gift to us humans.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve always had a lot of creative ideas and visions for the type of product and company that I wanted to run. Being a part of some other companies, I felt like I could never fully express and execute my vision, so going out on my own was the only way to truly impact the world and bring it fully to life.”
Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what were they and what did you do to solve them?
“Before I could even launch Kindroot, I was calling every single manufacturer I could find (even overseas!), and each and every one of them said no to making my product.
Some just politely declined, but others literally chuckled at me over the phone, and I even vividly remember one man telling me: ‘Why do you think you will be successful with this? You will probably fail.’
It was difficult not to get discouraged, and I really had to dig deep to find motivation to keep going. But, ultimately, I believed that I had something that the market needed, so I decided to hire a scientist and a production expert and make them myself. I’ve never manufactured anything before, and I don’t even like cooking, but here I was running a full production and learning how to work with all kinds of ingredients, testing protocols, and packaging.
Eventually, the product started to take off and now I produce them in a factory. After that experience, I really got the confidence to believe that I can work through any challenge and accomplish anything — the answers are always within me.”
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Health and wellness consumers looking for ways to help manage their daily ailments with natural and easy solutions. Below launching my brand, I spent a lot of time talking to different people to understand what was currently missing for them in the supplement offerings.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“I don’t really have much of a marketing budget since we are self-funded, so I rely on organic methods like social media, PR, and word of mouth to drive awareness.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“It feels like I did it one by one. I was emailing friends and asking them to share with their groups. I also had a consistent Instagram posting schedule, and we also did a targeted PR outreach.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“I look at our overall sales, spending, and profitability. Because I am looking to grow sustainably, not overspending is very important. I also look at our repeat customer percentage for our D2C business.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“I listen to ‘Social Media Marketing’ podcast religiously every week. As a small business, I rely so much on organic marketing and social media for brand awareness, and the show always has incredible experts and advice.”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“Beyonce’s ‘Love on Top’ always puts me in a good mood.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“Notion is such a great and flexible tool. I use it for everything from setting yearly goals to organizing content with my freelancers.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“I knew it would be tough, but I did not expect such extreme highs and lows. Ultimately everything is on you, so when things get tough, it can feel very lonely.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“This isn’t very romantic, but I schedule in “fun” time to make sure I do it. This also motivates me to get things done that I have before that because I mentally have something to look forward to.”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“Organization is key. I plan out yearly goals in Notion and then break them down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals. Then I also segment further into what I want to accomplish on a daily basis. Otherwise, it is easy to get distracted by fires and daily tasks.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“I’ve become much more disciplined since starting my business, but I also cherish my personal time a lot more. I start my day with a short meditation just to set my mind right, and that has been one of my best new habits.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“I was a summer camp counselor — I think it taught me a lot of patience and sensitivity from working with little ones!”
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