Hidden Gems: Meet Michelle Razavi of ELAVI
An Interview With Voyage LA
Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Razavi.
Hi Michelle, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I first learned about collagen while working in South Korea for a college internship. It was there I first learned about ingesting collagen – long before it became mainstream in America. It was that early influence of seeing how a culture prioritized their health with nutrition, combined with my personal upbringing with an Iranian immigrant mom who passed down ancient Persian teachings of food as medicine that I innovated a new approach to modern nutrition. I struggled with nourishing my body on the go juggling a corporate job and teaching fitness classes on the side. Every convenient option either tasted horrible or negatively inflamed my gut as they cut corners with cheap ingredients and fillers. Desperate to find a solution that was equal parts delicious and functional, I combined my knowledge of collagen for it’s body-strengthening properties and my integrative nutrition background to create the first elevated snack company with zero compromise.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Absolutely not. Just two months into launching the company, we got hit with the pandemic. I quit my corporate job to focus on ELAVI full-time and didn’t have any outside financial support so I was relying on my personal financial savings and unemployment insurance to simultaneously pay rent and bootstrap the company with my co-founder. We experienced a multitude of obstacles from excess oil separation (our formula took 10+ iterations because it had never been done before), a forced rebrand (trademark issues), running out of inventory and dealing with supply chain delays, barriers to fundraising as a minority founder, lack of resources, and dealing with rejection daily. There were many moments where I would fall asleep crying from exhaustion to fight for our company amidst so many hurdles.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about ELAVI?
ELAVI is a modern wellness brand delivering functional, delicious snacks with a disruptive digital approach. Delicious, clean, and powered with sustainably sourced collagen, our bites deliver the perfect nutrients/boost when you need to feel both energized and satisfied. We’ve developed a unique formulation process involving food scientists, Michelin-trained chefs, nutritionists, and athletes to bring a food-as-medicine approach to fueling the modern consumer through different touchpoints of the day. We’re elevating snacks to deliver optimal nutrition, boost longevity, and satisfy cravings. Our background as fitness instructors has influenced ELAVI as delivering an experience where consumers feel energized and empowered after interacting with our product/brand, the same way they would feel after leaving one of our workout classes. In a category that typically cuts corners to sell based on trends, we will never compromise on quality, taste, texture, or integrity. We see diet trends such as “keto” or “low carb” are misleading consumers into buying packaged foods that use “keto-friendly” sugar alcohols and processed sweeteners and want to slap them out of their hands. Our bodies deserve the most natural, antioxidant-rich, oldest sweeteners – dates and honey – and proudly use them in our collagen protein bites for that real, indulgent taste.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Passion. You have to firmly believe in your vision and your “why” to keep going and push through. Our “why” is to help people feel energized, stronger, and empowered to do it all. When you put quality ingredients in you body, you have the building blocks to do more and show up in the world as a better person. Entrepreneurship is messy – there’s sleep deprivation, rejection, sacrifices, self-doubt, lack of boundaries, to name a few. So it’s passion that will wake you up in the morning, to push through the late nights, to let rejections bounce off of you, and what makes your consumers (and investors) see that you’re truly committed to your product. Resourcefulness. Bootstrapping a company takes resourcefulness and creativity to stretch your dollar. We teach ourselves everything from Google or Youtube, ask for help from our friends, go the extra mile to deliver a premium experience for our consumers, and approach everything with a “how do we get there faster by worker smarter?” mindset.