Inspirational Woman: Vaani Vertiko | Co-founder, Neitiv

Vaani Vertiko

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role

I’m Vaani Vertiko. I was born and brought up in Malaysia and later moved to the UK, where I pursued my higher education.

I hold a law degree from the University of Gloucestershire and worked in project management for leading automotive brands such as BMW Mini and Honda.

After gaining several years of experience, I transitioned to become an entrepreneur and co-founded Neitiv, a beverage innovation company with my husband, Keeran. Overall, my background working in big corporates, combined with my entrepreneurial spirit, has led me to my current role as CEO of Neitiv, where we’re dedicated to bringing positive change to the beverage industry through innovation and sustainable solutions.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never planned my career, but I’m grateful to have found my passion in Neitiv. We aim to create innovative and sustainable beverage solutions that cater to consumers’ needs and prioritise social and environmental responsibility. We researched and revived an ancient elixir called coconut flower drops, and used it to create a refreshing and nutritious fusion beer called coconut flower beer. We continue to research and innovate, using traditional ingredients and modern techniques to create new and exciting beverages. My multicultural background has inspired me to appreciate diversity and incorporate traditional ingredients into modern western beverages. Starting Neitiv was a way to introduce our traditional beverages to Western society.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

As a start-up, we faced challenges at every stage and relied on our savings to invest in Neitiv. We invested in R&D to make Coconut Flower Drops a tangible product before registering our company. Challenges included product uniqueness and preservation requirements, as well as global supplier management complexities exacerbated by the pandemic. These challenges increased costs and delayed our product launch. Seeking investment and hiring the right team will continue to present challenges as we grow.

How are you campaigning to put an end to period poverty?

Neitiv Red Dot Project is striving towards an ambitious goal of eliminating period poverty. We believe all women and menstruating people should have access to menstrual protection during their period; it should be a basic human right.

We launched our ambitious project, ‘Red Dot’ to combat period poverty by providing free menstrual pads through our website, local charities, and refugee camps. We have successfully implemented our initiative in the UK and eventually will be rolled out to all countries where our beverage is stocked. Also, it will be implemented in villages in India, Thailand, Vietnam and other countries where some of our coconut producers are based.

We chose to contribute to eliminating period poverty because as a brand we want to empower all people and we recognise the importance of brands using their position to contribute to effecting positive change. We contribute 5% of the revenue from every sale of Coconut Flower Beer to Red Dot Project. However, we need more donation and support to build and expand this ambitious initiative in order to help more women, girls and menstruating people through various initiatives and awareness programmes.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement so far is supporting small coconut farmers and reviving an ancient ingredient, coconut flower drops, while maintaining its nutritional value without using artificial preservatives. We also created a unique fusion beer called coconut flower beer that appealed to a wide range of people. We continued to support village industries by producing sustainable products like coconut cups, candles, and leaf straws using discarded coconut shells and leaves. Combining innovation, sustainability, and social responsibility, we created a successful business model that benefits all stakeholders involved, from farmers to consumers.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

I believe that feeling empowered and having a strong passion for our mission has been a major factor in achieving my success. Feeling empowered as a woman and entrepreneur has given me the confidence to take risks and pursue my dreams. Our passion for reviving an ancient ingredient and creating unique, nutritious beverages has driven our hard work and dedication to developing and perfecting our products. Without these factors, I don’t believe we would have achieved the level of success we have today.

Neitiv has become more than a brand, it’s a way of life and a movement. It empowers me to be the champion of change. I’m confident it will empower more women from diverse communities to join the alcohol and beer industry. We promote empowerment, mindfulness and sustainability as an interconnected vision to create an equal, peaceful and prosperous world.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Since I am a new entrepreneur, I am benefited greatly from having mentors of my own. Running a business is a new experience for me, and having mentors who have gone through similar experiences has been invaluable. They have provided me with guidance and support, helping me to navigate the challenges that come with starting a business.

Overall, I believe that mentoring is a critical component of personal and professional development. By sharing knowledge and providing guidance, we can help others to achieve their goals and reach their full potential. Whether as a mentor or a mentee, I am committed to the value of mentorship and look forward to continuing to learn and grow through these interactions.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

It is difficult to pinpoint a single thing that can accelerate the pace of change for gender parity, as the issue is multifaceted and requires a holistic approach worldwide. However, I believe in empowering women through promoting gender equity and showcasing successful women as an example. Creating an environment that welcomes challenges and encourages women to step outside their comfort zone is also important. Additionally, highlighting gender issues and fostering conversations around them can help break down gender barriers and create a more equitable future for all.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Consider seeking mentorship from successful female entrepreneurs and female role models. Due to my upbringing in a traditional family, I have observed many hardworking women, but I lacked exposure to confident, independent women who can serve as strong role models. Looking back, I wish I had focused more on developing a confident and independent mindset, embracing challenges, questioning everything, and disregarding others’ opinions.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Looking into the future, we aim to expand our market beyond the UK. We want to bring our unique products, our values and our charity project focusing on eliminating period poverty.

In order to achieve these goals, we are constantly innovating and improving our processes. We are also seeking strategic partnerships and collaborations with like-minded companies who share our values of sustainability and innovation. We believe that by continuing to push ourselves and think outside the box, we can achieve great things for our company and make a positive impact on the world.

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