How To Launch A Brand New Concept In South Africa
Smart startup lessons from Sayed Mia, an entrepreneur who has built the Wellness IV industry from the ground up in South Africa.
Player: Sayed Mia
Company: REVIV South Africa
Each year there are new trends and innovations that shape industries. REVIV is one such product. Elective IVs (intravenous drips) have been steadly on the rise for almost a decade, with the health benefits of intravenously receiving vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, amino acids and anti-oxidants increasingly capturing consumer attention.
"Clients are increasingly realizing the benefits of replenishing and reviving their systems with intravenous treatments to help reduce the time-consuming recoveries from stress, fatigue, hangovers, illness, jet lag and general exhaustion," says Sayed Mia, founder and CEO of REVIV South Africa.
"There are weight management and anti-ageing treatments too."
REVIV was founded by four ER doctors in Miami in 2102. "They saw a gap in the market for health management and wellness using IVs," says Sayed.
"At that stage, elective IVs were already being used as a hangover cure. The REVIV founders identified the benefits of IVs for lifestyle issues, such as stress and fatigue and how it helps in the recovery of numerous other issues."
Internationally the brand has had exceptional success, achieving 76 spas across 32 countries in under seven years thanks to a franchise model.
Having heard about REVIV for the first time at the MGM Grand in Vegas, Sayed investigated the franchise opportunities and launched his first REVIV spa in South Africa in 2015.
"I'd been living in London for 15 years and this was the perfect opportunity to return to South Africa and launch a business. South Africa is a health conscious nation. We take pride in the way we look and feel. IV treatments are the future of wellness, and I believed it was a great fit."
Today he has branches in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, but even though he launched a proven, established and above all high-quality brand in South Africa, Sayed still experienced startup challenges and lessons, which he shared with Entrepreneur.
Q. What do you wish you had known before you launched REVIV in South Africa?
How cut throat business is. Unfortunately, very few people can be trusted. When I brought the brand in from the US, REVIV was the first drip bar in South Africa.
The concept was unheard of apart from one or two doctors providing basic IVs from their surgeries.
I realized a critical success factor for my startup was educating my market. I therefore aligned myself with some prominent partners in the beginning to get the REVIV name out there, build the brand and educate consumers and wellness professionals about the benefits of the Wellness IV market.
The problem was that I did my job too well. They obviously saw the value in what we were doing because those same partners ditched REVIV and started their own IV brands.
It was a difficult lesson to learn, particularly that I had been a bit naive and too trusting. That said, I believe that if you conduct yourself honourably, your reputation will precede you.
Q. How did this impact your startup?
One of the reasons why I chose to invest in REVIV is because we are the only IV company in the world with an R&D facility. This makes us a premium brand, but it's also a key differentiator.
I also believe that competition is healthy. I don't love the circumstances of what happened to me, and it's disappointing when people you trust let you down, but I can say that the upsurge of Wellness IVs in South Africa keeps us on our toes.
We are a premium product, so we need to always be at the top of our game.
The interesting thing is that although IV bars are popping up all over the show, the REVIV brand has grown from strenghth to strength.
In many ways our competitors are just spreading the word, growing the industry as a whole, and because of our premium status, we benchmark well within the market.
Q. Would you have done anything differently if you could go back and change things?
No. I was disappointed by some of my partners, but I believe we hit the nail on the head with our business launch. We recruited a great PR firm, but due to the nature of our business, instead of having one big launch, we had four targeted launches with ten people each.
We believed that our best opportunity to win was to get respected industry influencers on our side and advocating for REVIV.
The separate launch days invited ten celebrities, ten beauty editors, ten business editors and ten influencers respectively.
We treated them to IVs and asked them to share their experiences on social media and their respective magazines and publicatioons, good and bad. We just wanted their honesty.
Of course, it helps that we really, really believed in our product.
We didn't have a single bad review, and REVIV exploded into the market.
Q. What have your three most valuable learnings been from mistakes made during the planning and launch phases?
- Always seek advice on matters you are not an expert on. Don't be a "Mr Know it all'. Instead be the person who builds a great business.
- Plan and budget appropriately or your initial costs could run away from you.
- 80% of startups fail. Prepare yourself for a rough first few months and weather the storm, but never give up.
Q. Knowing what you know now, what would your best practical advice be to new entrepreneurs?
The reality is that business is not for everyone. You need to have a strong mindset, determination to succeed no matter what challenges are thrown your way and you will also have to develop a thick skin. You wil be disappointed and you'll need to pivot. That's all part of the journey.
Q. What lesson has had the greatest impact on your start-up journey?
Bring in experts sooner rather than later. We didn't have internal marketing or PR capabilities, but we needed to hit the ground running. It may cost you at first, but it's well worth it in the long run.
Building a Growth Mindset
Sayed hasn't just achieved success because of business acumen. He fosters a growth mindset that focuses on personal awareness and growth as well.
These are his five tips to building a growth mindset.
1. Learn to forgive and forget.
It allows you to move on with your life and not dwell on the past. Be the bigger person and lead by example.
2. Everything that happenes in life is destined for us, the good and the bad.
I wouldn't change anything as I am grateful for everything that I have and the experiences I have been through, all of which shaped who I am today.
3. Find your inner self.
For me, this is achieved through prayer. Being very spiritual, I believe everything comes from God and remembering and giving thanks to God has helped me tremendously, not just in business but life in general. While I understand this is not for everyone, I do believe we need to be in touch with our inner selves if we want to achieve happiness.
4. Be optimistic – even during challenging times.
A positive mindset allows you to overcome your hurdles and come up with solutions to problems. It also motivates the people around you.
How you behave, think and portray yourself has a direct impact on your staff, family and friends.
5. Have a role model.
Knowledge is power and learning from role models and experts motivates you to strive for your best.