Corporate leader or health and nutrition philosopher? Lycored leader in the hotseat
"Forget sales, follow philosophy": Award-winning health and wellness leader reveals what makes him tick
After growing up as a keen surfer in the startup hub of Tel Aviv, Israel, and gaining a Ph.D. in science, technology and society, when Raz and his wife discovered they were going to become parents at the age of 23, Raz simply did what he thought was the best thing to pay the bills.
“I was 23 when I became a father and I needed to pay the bills so that’s when I started my first company in 1997," he tells NutraIngredients after giving a 'mindfulness' presentation at a wellness centre in London. "The business was essentially cleaning the exterior of buildings but I guess my interest in surfing had given me a strong connection with nature so the USP of the business was that we only used natural substances."
While running that company, the inquisitive entrepreneur started to study homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine. Although he quickly realised he didn’t want to become a practitioner, Raz was 'fascinated' by how we can use nutrition to prevent illness and heal.
It was this fascination that led Raz to start his first health supplements company called Human’s Nature, in 2000.
The business model was to use iris diagnosis – involving analysis of the iris in the eye – and provide a personalised mix of supplements based on the results.
“This was known as PNP - Personal Nutritional Profile - it was essentially a personalised supplements service, 20 years ago, way ahead of its time.”
Shortly after founding this company, at the age of 27, Raz decided to also take on a Batchelors in Law, followed by a Masters - a seven year undertaking during which time he and his wife had their second and third daughters.
“When people ask me why I did this, I say its because I was living in a house of women and I wanted to know my rights," he jokes. "Only I discovered that I have no rights! And actually, when you finally accepted that you have no rights, life actually becomes a lot easier!”
In 2008, he sold Human’s Nature and co-partnered with a therapist who specialised in traditional Western herbalism and we started a botanicals company which grew a portfolio of 300 different botanicals from all over the world.
The company offered therapists a catalogue of formulas so they could mix and match what they wanted and order online for home delivery. He sold his shares in 2010 and this led to a six month vacation for Raz and his rapidly expanding family now including four daughters.
Unfortunately, 'reality' had to resume at some point.
“When I got back I started to do consultancy for Lycored and realised the show must go on and bills must be paid so I started my first 'normal job’ working for someone else, as opposed to running my own business.”
Seven years on and now based in New Jersey, USA, Raz says he’s still very much an entrepreneur at heart but with some useful corporate learnings under his belt and it's thanks to Lycored’s flexibility that he’s managed to bring his entrepreneurial ‘vibe’ to the corporate world.
“Ingestible skincare is a world I was already interested and active in. In convincing the company to take this direction it’s like doing my own start-up but in a corporate environment.
“The business has benefited from letting me bring this startup spirit to the table and I’ve learnt to balance my desire to execute on the first thought that comes to my mind, so it’s a mutual benefit.”
Speaking about his biggest success within Lycored, Raz says it has to be his team.
“I have a very diverse team of 25 people who are very informal and very driven by self development.
“We understand that development has to come from within and when it does, career, personal and relationship development will naturally follow.”
It’s this philosophy that drives Lycored’s ‘Rethink Beautiful’ ingestible skincare campaign which encourages people to love themselves as they are.
The campaign has two elements; the portfolio of products including Lycoderm, Lycomato and Lumenato, and the award winning ‘Letters of Love’ campaign through which the team has encourage 15,000 people across the glob to write a letter of love to themselves.
“The campaign is based on the understanding that true beauty starts when you truly accept yourself exactly the way you are.
“This is not to say you can’t buy cosmetics, or buy a new outfit or change the colour of your hair, but it’s important to accept ourselves without resistance to the environment. My daughters are now aged 22, 20, 14 and 12 and I make sure to tell them I love them just the way they are.
"This way of thinking is the opposite to the ‘anti-ageing’ message you used to hear in marketing campaigns which is simply an impossible notion!
"It's not about selling products, that philosophy is what I am truly passionate about, that's what really makes me tick."