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How Richard Branson inspired this female entrepreneur and dentist to bring a completely new product to market
Angie Lang, founder of Swirlit
Fri 1 November 2019 - 9:01 amStartup
Female entrepreneur and dentist, Angie Lang, is the founder of Swirlit and she is extremely passionate about health, wellness and shaking up the beverage industry.
Angie has been researching her product for over 15 years and has 4 university degrees to support her findings along with 15+ years experience. Swirlit is the world’s first functional oral health drink, backed by science.
Although some retail buyers this far have said that Australian’s aren’t ready for oral health drinks, Angie has responded by pointing out that more Aussies have a dentist rather than a gastroenterologist… relating to the gut health “trend”, and as your gut starts in your mouth, we can’t fully look after our gut without looking after our oral health too.
Swirlit was founded in 2017, and started trading last year, with three new products just this year.
Richard Branson has been a big inspiration for Angie, and on her first trip to Necker Island for Change Makers Rule Breakers in May 2017, she learned the importance of valuing her stock.
“Richard did ask me to send him stock when we were in the prototype stage. I offered to send him free stock,” Angie told us.
“He told me to send the stock and invoice him properly including shipping as he stressed the importance of valuing your stock as a startup. He told me ‘you have to make money’.
“Due to production delays and Hurricane Irma, we didn’t get to send stock but I did take a delivery on my second visit in December 2018.
“He got to try the finished product and we even made our signature Swirlit cocktails on the island which he enjoyed. Richard has highlighted the importance of dreaming big and using your business as a force for good.”
Up until 2017, the business was self-funded, from selling her home and dental practice, and the first capital raise was in May this year.
Angie has a highly engaged group of board members and investors that bring beverage industry, marketing and financial expertise into the mix.
Despite setback from bigger brands, Swirlit is currently selling in independent stores in grocery, petrol and convenience, cafes, dental practices, pharmacy, and online.
Angie explained, “While it takes a while to develop relationships with the larger retailers, the opportunities are starting to come to fruition. Up to this point the independent retailers and early adopters have been important in our go to market strategy.”
Angie is also developing distribution agreements in export markets with 5 countries, showing how fast the company is growing since just last year.
“Swirlit is growing week on week through many different channels including sampling, dentists recognising the need for the product and providing in their surgeries for patients and cafes and restaurants wanting to offer a healthy and oral health safe alternative to soft drinks,” Angie said.
“We also have some investors who are well known within the beverage space and recognised the need for a product like Swirlit.
“Their guidance has been paramount for us getting the product out to market. We have had global exposure through trade shows, invited speak at the Global Bottled Water Congress in Dubai, and press that’s picked up on the story that we created a new category in the beverage space.”
Angie has said that it’s through partnering with likeminded businesses and developing a community of Swirlit advocates such as the health, fitness, beauty, fashion and entrepreneurial groups that has helped get Swirlit into people’s hands and grow brand awareness.
Speaking about the next steps for her business, Angie said “I see Swirlit as contributing to a greater awareness of oral health and providing solutions for consumers to do good for the health of their smiles every day.”
“Being recognised as a first to market drink for oral health is a win, but also comes with challenges of having to educate the market. We have been approached by a couple of big companies, which at this early stage in the business validates what we are doing and the need for Swirlit.
“Certainly the biggest ‘pinch myself’ moment was speaking on the same program as the CEOs of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle Water and Danone Water in Dubai. To have the ear of industry leaders was a huge opportunity.”