Interview with Antimo Farid Mir
AREEA was created with the idea that people should not have to choose between living in a city and being healthy. Issues like air pollution, distance from nature and stressful lifestyles have increasingly put urban living and well-being at opposite ends of the spectrum. We aim to bridge that gap, by taking innovations from life sciences and biotechnology and packaging them into accessible products that fit into people’s everyday life, pioneering the concept of ‘urban health’.
Check out our exclusive Q&A session with Antimo:
How AI will impact on our health in the near future?
Artificial intelligence will certainly have a big impact on all of the aspects of our day to day life. It’s not necessarily going to be a good thing. On the one hand it will be phenomenal in fields related to actual advancements of medical, for example analysing huge data sets, finding new protein links, finding new cures, analysing symptoms, diagnosing patient data, that’s huge because they can process huge sets of data in a short amount of time, whilst being efficient. AI is not fatigued and doesn’t need a salary so that’s something that can be done quite quickly. For example, in the developing world, diagnosing eyes diseases from scanning your retina with a phone camera, that’s already been done and that’s huge. But on the other hand, personal health, nutrition, diet, in that aspect its much for important to be aware of the ability of healthy food and drink options, are much more important than AI. You can have all your fitness brackets, but if don’t actually have a healthy lifestyle it won't work. You can only automate that aspect of your life so much, its so much more important to have a routine and a habit that’s kicked in and ingrained into your day to day life to be healthy.
What’s your favourite drink? :smile:
I make healthy drinks, so I'm supposed to say something healthy, like aloe vera, green tea or matcha tea, buts its not… It's whisky! Specifically, bourbon Kentucky straight. My favorite one is Bourye from Kentucky, then Marker’s Mark, a few Scottish ones are really good as well. In my defense, ‘whiskey’ in Irish means “water of life”.
You are a supporter of a healthy lifestyle. What’s your routine and how a founder can have a healthy lifestyle and stay focused on his work?
Having a real, actual health routine is something I'm still working towards, it's going to be a great achievement. I follow a lot of Tim Ferriss, and the power of habit. Having a routine gives an automation to have a good habit, you don't have to think about it anymore. That's kind of the Holy Grail but it takes a while to get there. Having a start-up life doesn't really fit with having a routine, so you have to work to get there. I'm still working to get there, something that I do recommend to other entrepreneurs is not buying into whatever article you read and certainly not the first article you read. The absolutely most important thing is having an awareness of how you individually work: what's your attention span, how you concentrate, how you work best, if you work best in noisy environments, or if you need noise cancelling headphones like mine or if you need a quiet office. If you work better at night, in the early morning or late afternoon. If you work better with a beer, or with a coffee. Happiness and being in the flow for yourself is the most important thing. You have to have that foundation to then build on that and being healthy long term.
Where do you produce the drinks?
We are currently producing the drink in England, close to London. For our very first batch of we do 400 bottles at a time, which are being produced by our product developer, which a food technologist. Then we’ll move on to the indigo campaign, we’ll know ahead of how much product we have produced, we’ll move onto the bigger production of 300L per batch, which is still small by industrial standards. Which is one of our biggest challenges. If you produce too much product and there are no purchases lined up to cover the production expense, you run into a bit of a logistical nightmare. If you produce too much product which is all fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s all perishable. Then there’s the bottling, the labelling, packing and the additional cold farcicalities, which are all added costs. Finding a flexible method of production is one of our biggest achievements to date.
Was it hard to find your co-founder? Where did you meet Jacopo Mele?
It wasn’t hard in our case, because it happened by chance. I guess it might of have been hard if I didn’t find him. I always wonder how I would have found a suitable co-founder if didn’t just happen to of meet him. I guess its like falling in love it just one of those things. I guess it's about being the right place at the right time, and knowing what to say. I was helping a friend with their video production agency and a friend, was shooting his promo video for this startup home, which provides cool living rooms and flats for entrepreneurs in London and other cities in the world, and we need lots of actors and actresses which we didn’t want to pay for. So gave a call out to our friends and startup people in the city and Jacopo was one of the people that turned out to be one of the two co-protagonists in the video, and we met and talk to each about what we did. And I told him about my projects and he was into, and so we started working together. So right place, right time.
You are planning to test your product in Asia first. What´s your go-to-market strategy?
A product is being tested by Beta tester over the next few days, will be available online at our online store. So you’ll be able to order from wherever you are, providing we can clear customs. We will run a market test in Thailand, Bangkok primarily, because Thailand is known as the ‘Food Basket of Asia’ because they produce a lot of food and drink which is then imported to the whole of South East Asia, and other Asian countries. Chinese customers tend to perceive Thai products as having more quality, so that will be a benefit for us. Also, importing and exporting to and from Thailand is easier for us than in mainland China. Our go-to-market strategy is just selling online, going straight to the consumers, skipping traditional retail for now. For two reasons: because we can, our product is small format (of 30ml which is in 7 bottle packages. Other brands have done it, e.g. Soylent, and many other new drinks companies are selling online. Also, I wouldn’t know where to put in on a shelve in a supermarket, its quite a new product and value proposition. Lastly, retail eats into your profit quite heavy, and we don’t want that.
Thanks Antimo, you are now allowed to ask one question to our next interview partner: Daniel Murray, fonder of Grabble #LAMA
Hey Daniel, pleased to talk to you and congratulations on your app, Grabble, very nice design, and also on your podcast, ‘The Secret Lives of Leaders’, which I didn’t know it was yours, I have listened to it a couple times. I have a question for you: In 2013 when you started the Grabble app there were several fashion start-ups and e-shopping startups around that period. Did you start with what customers wanted, did you do a lot of market research and customer service? Or, did you just go with your gut feeling that it was the feature that customers would be looking for? How did you choose to differentiate yourself from others, and the main core feature that would categorize your app? And how did you go from there?
You've recently co-founded Areea, a company that produces a beverage that helps to reduce the effects of pollution on humans. How did you get the idea and how did you transform it into a product?
I think the most interesting thing; is the fact it is a drink. Funnily enough, when we started out the thought wasn’t to make a drink, but it was to make this super high tech portable air purifier, which turns out to not be a thing. When it comes to protecting yourself from air pollution, you have pollution masks and air purifiers, which just work indoors. We were able to keep an open mind on figuring out what the product would be. We stumbled upon this research which is the core of our drink: The study of vegetables which is the active principle of the drink. We completely pivoted from a tech company to a food and drink company before we launched. The most important aspect of it was to keep an open mind with what the product could be and to find the most consumer-friendly solution. The way we like to view the company and our first product is that is a consumer-friendly solution to the pollution problem. That even rhymes! Its really important to keep an open mind in the early stages, if not you don’t get to think of potential declinations of the solution to your problem.