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In the Winter of 2018, Füm™ was launched with the personal savings and determination of four young entrepreneurs. CEO Braeden Pauls, was one of those founding members.
In celebration of the 3 Year Füm™ Anniversary , Braeden Pauls compiled this reflection back on the journey Füm™ has gone on to help over 28,000 customers create positive habits.
Braeden Pauls, CEO:
I am immensely grateful for our journey in growing Füm™. It’s been the best kind of journey. A journey filled full of victories, challenges, learning and relearning. When I joined Füm™ as a co-founder, we had great visions of what the company could be and how it could serve in the world. Looking back, I now see the naivety we had starting out, unaware of the difficulties and challenges that would come in the years following.
It’s October, 2017. As co-founders, we met at a local coffee shop and began laying out plans of how we were going to take Füm™ from being a great product to a functioning business. I still remember the excitement we had--it was energizing. We all loved the product and we had gathered some basic indicators of consumer demand; we had great dreams.
At that meeting we committed as 2 sets of brothers, the "Core Four" as we call it, to launching Füm™ in the upcoming months. In hindsight, we were quite bold. I was the oldest at 26, and the youngest was Janai Whelan at 21. We had enough experience in starting businesses to think that we had some ideas of what it would take. We were optimists and problem solvers with only the slightest idea of what we needed to do, but we knew that we could do it.
At that meeting, we made a plan to make an efficient manufacturing system and to create a proper website for our brand. We each committed $1000 from our personal savings for this initial undertaking, and we were on our way to creating something that has had a positive impact in the world beyond our imagination.
It was in the early months of 2018 when we were making progress towards officially launching Füm™. We had put in hours whenever and wherever we could, while all still working other jobs or pushing through classes in college. In a Steve Jobs-like fashion, the original production shop was built in a rustic basement room we “rented” from parent’s of two of our co-founders,
I remember the feelings I had; excitement and anxiety of what the future could hold for Füm™ held me captive.
Questions like"What if we were wrong?" and "What if no one wanted our product?" and,"What if we had sacrificed all of this time and money for something that wasn't going to work?" were swirling in our minds. Despite the overwhelming tension of fear and determination, we worked up to our launch.
We knew we needed to give back…
In the days leading up to our launch, Janai and I had a conversation in my bedroom (our then office) about the idea of incorporating giving into our business model. We had always believed that business was meant to do good in the world and from the beginning we wanted Füm™ to stand by that belief.
That day we decided that we would give a portion of each sale of a Füm™ to an organization we believe in: M4K, a Kenyan based orphanage. To this day, we have never changed that. We give 6 meals to the children at M4K for every Füm™ sold. To date, Füm™ has given over 233,600 meals to M4K orphanage.
Our first “big day”...
Our first major milestone and indicator of success came two months in. We attended a large event in the natural health space and through word of mouth and sheer determination we had our inventory sell out in a single day. We were baffled and had that “it’s happening!” feeling! We were scrambling and ecstatic that we had created something that people were wanting.
With a strong start in our sails, the rest of 2018 was eventful. We hired our first employees, expanded our online presence, upgraded our shop from a basement room to a whole garage (luxury!) and continued to grow as a business. Above all we started to hear back from customers that our product was improving people's lives and wellness. Customers picked up Fum to quit smoking and vaping, for respiratory support, and for emotional wellbeing--the use cases were endless. We were overjoyed and knew that we were headed in a good direction--reviews go a long way for encouraging young entrepreneurs.
Having completed our first calendar year, we had gone through immense learning as a team. We began to build our team and had gone through the processes of “becoming a real business,” whatever that means... We didn't know completely either, but we were excited by the process.
As co-founders, we continued to take small wages to continue to reinvest everything possible into Füm™. As the Füm™ Crew, we sacrificed a lot of the little luxuries in life to see this business grow, but in hindsight these were some of the fondest times of my life. As a team, we worked out of a house which several of us also lived in. We would often go to the nearest park on our lunch break and get in a quick game of Spikeball in the Calgary summer sun.
Throughout the year, we continued to spend significant time innovating our production systems and testing for future products. Our voice grew in clarity and message, and we spent significant time creating and experimenting with ways to educate consumers on our mission, values, product, and story.
We weathered the stress and storm of having intense cashflow crunches, working out our inner team communication, and identifying roles and responsibilities. It was 2019 when things started feeling more established and legit. Our vision, to create a world where positive habits seize the day, and reason for existing as a business kept us propelling forward. It is the collective the impact Füm™ has on the children at M4K Orphanage and consumers around the world that drove us to keep innovating, learning, and persevering.
We had strong evidence that our product was beneficial to the Füm™ Family and we were starting to learn how we could get our message to more people. 2020 was all about leveling up as a company. We received testimonials from around the world of people substantially improving their lives with Füm™ by quitting smoking, finding allergy relief, or supporting their emotional health--still humbles us every day.
Covid-19 and Füm...
In the beginning of 2020, we laid out plans for attending a number of health and wellness events throughout North America and for making significant new product developments. Then COVID hit.
As a team, we had no idea what this would mean for us. We worried that it would mean a significant drop in new customers and could be an existential threat to our existence. Despite our fears, our team snapped into action and quickly adapted to the new reality as we focused on solutions to serve our customers best during the pandemic. In spring, we launched our Wellness Pack with our new Shield and Reassurance Cores, blends designed to improve immunity and ease anxiety. In addition to the blends effects, every Wellness Pack sold contributed over $25 CAD to COVID Response Efforts through the Samaritan’s Purse. As a team we donated over $9,000 CAD in this season. I was incredibly proud of how we innovated to serve people as a company during this time of crisis. Since Covid, this pack has remained a top seller and fan favorite.
We continued to find success in finding new customers and rapidly scaled our company throughout the summer of 2020. Leading into the fall and winter months of 2020, we continued to adapt and grow, hitting some bumpy patches. We finished the year strong with the launch of our second Limited Edition Holiday Box along with our Burl Fum. In 2020, we learned an immense amount about being able to pivot quickly, continuing to clarify our mission, and serving Füm™ Family members around the world.
We are passionate about investing in people’s futures by empowering them to create positive habits through aromatherapy. We believe that habits are the foundation of a positive life and that they create a better tomorrow for everyone. Our journey is no different. We have seen this over and over again in our growth as a company and community. Our positive daily actions have lasting impact in the world, and so do yours!
The first 3 years of Füm™ have been incredible. We've welcomed over 28,000 customers into the Füm™ Family while giving away thousands of meals to the kids at M4K Orphanage in Kenya. We’ve grown immensely in our initial vision of creating a company that can serve. I am grateful we have accomplished this together and it makes me so excited about the future.
We have grown a lot over the first 3 years, and we are excited to press into building a company that has continued positive impact in the world in the future. Thank you for joining us on this journey!
Cheers to more lives transformed,
Thank you so much for your kind words and support Christina!
This is amazing!! I loved learning about how FUM grew and became the amazing power house company with so much potential to be huge !!!!! You all are so amazing and have busted your tails to get where you are !!!! Good job !!!!!
I’m so excited for all of you and can’t wait to see the next three years !!!!!
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