Becoming Co-Founder - Kavita Madhvani
The irony is that we need to rewind to March 2020, a place we all remember for the wrong reasons!
Anna and I met at the end of March, when the world was discussing all but the novel coronavirus, lockdowns and restrictions, then there was me trying to explain to Anna that I would like to invest in her business but also work with her! I have a passion for fitness and wellness and combined with my interest in entrepreneurship I found this would be the perfect opportunity.
Anna was very kind, listened to me and then never responded! In hindsight, it’s definitely a normal reaction, but I persisted and chased her, convincing her that I would be able to help elevate the brand and business. She finally replied (almost a month later) and asked me for the most absurd request; “please can you help with these Arabic translations?” I’m pretty sure she knew I didn’t speak Arabic! At first I dwelled on this task and then thought, I need to demonstrate a ‘can-do’ attitude, I reached out to my trusted LBS network and ‘ta-da’ to no surprise I was inundated with help, from multiple classmates! I sent her the Arabic translations back and this is where it all began....
Anna had toyed with the idea of expanding in UAE, however didn’t know where to begin, (nor did I) but I figured I had helped so many other companies setup in DIFC (my corporate job), so we began our research, we spoke to our trusted advisor and many different free zones. We finally decided a way forward and mapped out a plan for the UAE. Whilst it was all very exciting on paper, I had no idea what was about to unfold!
Simultaneously, Anna had also committed to Crowdcube a fundraising round for Fighter Shots, which she asked me to help her with. We began discussions with Crowdcube, gathered our pitch deck information and our amazing intern Sabre helped us put together an investment pitch. During this time, I also began discussing Fighter Shots with a few trusted colleagues and friends in UAE. To my surprise I quickly secured a UAE investor (who ended up being our largest investor) and felt more confident of our raise.
We had received some negativity towards our raise from our initial investors. Given the situation and turmoil of the economy naturally they were being conservative however Anna and I strongly believed in our product. It was a timely investment and health had been pushed up on the agenda, so we believed it would attract investment regardless of the uncertain climate. To our ex-investors dismay we raised over £150k! We managed to reach our target within 24hours of going live, which was a phenomenal feeling!
Fast forward to mid-August, the first shipment of Fighter Shots arrived in UAE (see pictures).
I remember watching them unload the pallet, we slowly took 415 boxes to my apartment! Our apartment was filled with Ginger Shots, wherever we walked we could see stacks of boxes, this was the epitome of #startuplife. I recall thinking how will I sell 400+ boxes, I wrote down a wish list of all the listings we wanted to secure. I began listing our product on amazon and took my first trip to the amazon fulfilment centre (definitely a story for another blog post!). We slowly began listing the product with Noon, Sprii, The Saffron Souk, Munch and many more. A lot of the sales I was achieving were mainly through cold-calling but we were selling the product, it was September and I had sold over 100 boxes, yes it felt slower than expected but I was excited that we were selling any at all! After all, this was our pilot project.
As they all say in the startup world, “everything you ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone”. In early September I contacted ENOC, a petrol station in UAE who is affiliated with Zoom Supermarkets (similar to Tesco Express/ESSO in the UK). I remember receiving a response from their team and just being excited by an email! I met the team in their headquarters in September and conversations quickly progressed, they liked the product and they were keen for us to speak to their suppliers, which I did the very next day! Our product was listed within the week and they wanted 100 boxes, I never expected an order of this size, it was overwhelming but so exciting. Within two weeks, the supplier called and asked for another 100 boxes, I hesitated as I knew we only had another 100 left and not long after that call did they want the next 100! It was early October and I had completely sold out! Fast forward to January 2021, we have just sent ENOC 1200 more boxes (14,400 units) and they called that same week to ask for more! It’s been a whirlwind of a journey but ever so gratifying.
Over the past 10 months, Anna has given me an outstanding opportunity to help accelerate Fighter Shots, I have been able to help elevate our brand, expand successfully in the UAE, increase our sales across both regions, create new flavors (our first vegan shot launching next month) and last but not least given me the chance to understand how much value and impact we can make together.