MARKETS & INVESTING | Krisana Gallezo-Estaura, Hong Kong

This startup wants to become a one-stop shop for health and wellness products

It’s closing a first round of seed funding worth HK$15m.

The global marketplace for health and wellness products is filled with tons of products that oftentimes do not work, work incorrectly, or are plain harmful. The media’s endless supply of contradictory and confusing information adds to the hassle. Finally, whether it is food or fitness, the industry is often set up so that consumers never win, but always have to return for more. A new health and wellness platform called Qualitarian.co promises to do differently. Its main thrust is not to sell products and services, but provide solutions for consumers to upgrade their lifestyle.

Founded by Mikko Revonniemi, Qualitarian.co serves as a one-­stop ­shop for Hong Kong’s health and performance community. It claims of providing premium products and high-quality educational material through its online platform, Qualitarian.co. This is the current state, but the long-term focus is beyond traditional eCommerce.

According to Mikko, they only provide curated products and have developed strict guidelines on what can go into their store. One example is cane sugar, he said. “Sugar cane has nothing but damaging effects to your body and it can be easily replaced by better ingredients. There are no reasons to use cane sugar, so we have locked it out from Qualitarian.co,” explained Mikko.

They also focus on sustainable packing material and favor products that use recyclable materials over plastic.

Qualitarian.co is an evolution of established health and wellness platform Berrytime. The upgraded platform is managed by a professional team who selects each and every product made available at the store. It features over 1,000 products ranging from Personal Care, Healthy Home, and Biohacking. It offers free delivery to any location in Hong Kong.

According to Mikko, Berrytime was a 2-year project to test the waters and learn more about the Hong Kong eCommerce space in a “stress-free” environment. Now, almost two years later, he felt he had all the pieces of the puzzle, so he went ahead and rebranded to Qualitarian.co and began building the founding team. Prior to Berrytime, he co-founded and was the CEO of a US-based startup called Four Sigmatic - another pioneer in the wellness industry.

After Four Sigmatic, Mikko wanted to start from scratch again. He invested all his personal savings to Berrytime.com and got some seed funding totaling HK$ 1.5million. He was the only person working in Hong Kong and wanted to keep it that way, so he had to do everything by himself.

“If you really want to understand something, you have to get your hands dirty and do it yourself. And that’s what I did. While I could have used the funding to hire an army of people, and leverage on human capital, I believe the deep understanding I gained by doing everything myself is much more valuable now, when it’s time to scale up and move fast,” he said.

Since he was doing everything by himself, a normal work day can be pretty long. He often starts at 6am and finish in the evening close to midnight. “As a matter of fact, I have slept way more nights in the warehouse than at home. Obviously, it’s not always fun, but I felt it was something I had to go through to get what I needed for Qualitarian.co,” he said.

Mikko also added that they are planning to close the first round of seed funding amounting to HK$ 15 million in the next few of months.

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