A new Kiwi supplement business centred around medicinal mushrooms is just weeks away from launching in the market.
The nutraceuticals subscription brand OtherNature has been under development for over two years and is the result of $250,000 investment.
OtherNature's first product, which uses mushroom ingredients such as Lion's Mane along with native New Zealand ingredients such as sea kelp, has been developed to support brain health.
The business will operate on a subscription model from October 5, charging customers $75 a jar for a 30-day supply and offering subscribers a 15 per cent discount on refills.
OtherNature was founded by Kiwi Hope Williams and Toronto-born Matt Leadbeater, who have a background in marketing and advertising.
The pair have spent the past 10 years living overseas, mostly in London, and recently moved back to New Zealand.
"We're excited and we think it is really going to resonate. We know the trends are there and we have formulated this product to support deep focus, mental clarity, and long-term cognitive health," Leadbeater told the Herald.
"We have spent our careers supporting big global brands and their growth, and we both have always wanted to create our own brand and apply the learnings we have gained from our careers," Williams said.
Williams had a curiosity for wellness and was always seeking natural alternatives which led her down the path of starting the firm, which uses ingredients commonly used as treatments for various conditions in Asia, she said.
The pair got the idea for OtherNature when living in London.
"We found a lack of balance and disconnection from a more natural lifestyle that had a tendency to take its toll on physical and mental health, and we saw that in our friends too."
She said that imbalance manifested in many ways, including anxiety, high stress, and insomnia.
"In those moments we found ourselves seeking remedies."
Williams began working on OtherNature in late 2020 and Leadbeater became involved the following year. They have been working on the business full time for almost a year and have spent almost two years tweaking the formulations of the supplements.
The business is part of two start-up incubators; Te Ōhaka - NZ's Centre for Growth & Innovation and ThincLab, a progamme run out of Canterbury University.
After launching in New Zealand, OtherNature plans to expand into Britain and Australia.
Long term, it wants to expand into offering topical products.
"Our main focus is having a B2C model or e-commerce strategy because we want to focus on growing a subscription base," Williams said.
"Supplements have a really low retention rate within the space - it is about 30 per cent - and so we want to focus on growing that retention and grow a consumer good into almost a SaaS type model where people are buying on subscription," said Williams.
"We knew this massive opportunity existed for the health of people and the planet, and we couldn't find any brand that truly resonated with us, which kickstarted the project."
The functional mushroom market is valued at US$25 billion ($41b) in 2021 and experiencing year-on-year growth of 8 per cent annually, with interest growing among New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States and Britain, according to Grand View Research.
Mushrooms products that support immune health have benefited since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with high interest from food, beverage, and nutritional supplement manufacturers.
The industry is forecast to grow by 9.5 per cent annually between 2022 and 2028.