June 24, 2019

24 hours with Dr Vincent

She’s apples! How health food entrepreneur DR Vincent Candrawinata spends his day.

Apples all day keep the doctor working double shift: the scientist and founder of phenolic antioxidants specialist Renovatio takes us through a day in his busy life.

Indonesian-born Dr Vincent Candrawinata, often known simply as Dr Vincent, earned his PhD from the University of Newcastle developing a patented method to isolate and extract antioxidants from apples without the use of chemical solvents. The 29-year-old food scientist has also pulled off the difficult feat of commercialising the substances he produced in the lab during his PhD research. Renovatio, the Sydney-based manufacturer of bionic antioxidant supplements and skincare he established in 2015, is exporting its wares to eight countries and Dr Vincent has his sights set on the US market.

6.30am: I have my coffee then head to the gym where I do some skipping and weight training. On fine days I run in Hyde Park but I don’t like the treadmill – running without moving forwards depresses me!

8am: After a shower, my next stop is our office in Martin Place where I make a smoothie and check the accounts. We have an accountant but I like to check the figures myself every day. I started Renovatio because I wanted to give people a happier, healthier life. As an immigrant, there’s a sense of pride in contributing back to the country and people that have supported me – but a business can’t just be about passion; it’s also a game of numbers. Being across them means I know what to celebrate and what to solve.

8.30am: My first work is with the UK, where we started selling in 2018. Emails have come through overnight and I connect with our distributor. They’re signing up retailers and still have a lot of questions about what our product does, how it should be stored… education’s a big part of the process when we enter a new territory and anything technical comes back to me.

9am: Our Operations Director Christian and I catch up at this time every day. We have a packed schedule of conferences, trade shows and roadshows this year, so we do some planning around that.

10am: Today I have an interview with Fitness First magazine about nutrition and healthy diet, so I head to their office at World Square to meet with Editor-in-Chief Tony Sarno.

11am: It’s getting towards lunchtime but I work through – a habit I picked up during my research years. As a PhD candidate, you have to fight with other candidates for equipment and that was how I stayed ahead of the race. I head to Mr Vitamins at Chatswood with our Marketing Director Benny. We really want to grow our clinical presence in shops and healthcare practices and it’s one of Sydney’s largest health and wellness chains. I’m actively involved in this account because most of their employees are naturopaths or nutritionists and, being a doctor in clinical nutrition, I like to discuss questions and wellness issues to ensure we’re supporting them wherever we can. Today, I chat to the practitioner on duty and we run a tasting session out front. That’s been the best way to introduce our range to customers. It’s also a really valuable learning exercise for me because I didn’t have any business or marketing training when I started.

12.30pm: Our publicist Tess comes in and we brainstorm ideas for tonight’s radio show. I have a 20-minute segment on Money FM 89.3 in Singapore every Wednesday night called Ask Dr Vincent. We co-produce it with the station, which means we have to contribute discussion topics and find interviewees. Initially, my focus was on food and health but now, in the second season, I’ve started getting questions from listeners about other things, like running a business.

2pm: Our Indonesian General Manager is finalising a deal with Guardian, one of Indonesia’s largest pharmacy chains, and we jump on Skype to discuss the introduction strategy. He’s had to work closely with the regulators because they needed to develop a new classification for our products before they could be imported. The next challenge is anticipating demand.

3pm: I have a virtual meeting with our Thai design team who are tweaking Renovatio’s packaging and marketing. Thailand is the first market we’ve targeted where I don’t speak or understand the local language and we’ve discovered some of our messaging could get lost in translation. Renovatio’s skincare range is marketed as ‘APSKIN’ across most of the world but, as ‘ap’ means uncertainty in Thai, we’ve decided to rebrand as Biovida in this region.

4pm: Apple season is beginning and I’m on the phone to our growers to discuss our requirements. We use six different types – red, green and yellow – from a co-op in Orange, New South Wales. When I first came to Australia that made me laugh – apples from Orange! I’ve known some of these guys since I started my research in 2010 and we have a good relationship. They know the specifications and growing conditions we favour. We test every batch for pesticides and heavy metals – good food starts from the ground up.

5pm: This is my time for catching up on paperwork. Today I’m tackling a pile of documents from the American Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). One of our goals this year is to enter the US market and getting approval from the FDA is the first step.

6pm: My apartment’s a 15-minute walk from the office so I head there and hit the kitchen. I love to cook and do it almost every day. My mum’s a pastry chef and helping her in the kitchen growing up was the reason I studied food science. While I prepare, I catch up on the news via YouTube. I’m an avid reader but at the moment I don’t have a lot of time so I’ve taken to listening. Some nights I also vlog while I cook – I recently launched an ‘Ask Dr Vincent’ YouTube channel.

7pm: I’m off duty but on standby for the countries where Renovatio’s partners are still working, so I watch Netflix while I wait for my radio slot at 9.40pm. My mum introduced me to The Golden Girls, which is how she learnt English. I told her it wasn’t my kind of show but then I started watching it and my jaw was sore from laughing. Another (more contemporary) show I like is The Good Doctor. It sounds cliched, but I’m not the only doctor I know that watches it!

10pm: I call my sister then get ready for bed. A couple of calls come in from the UK and I deal with them before I turn in at 11. Work does stretch right across the day but, when you’re running a new company, you do what you have to do.