We catch up with Dwayne Martens the founder of Amazonia Australia’s number one organic superfood brand, started from discoveries made to better his own health and now he’s helping people across the globe with theirs.
There is no doubt that our current generation is as concerned as ever with what they are putting in their mouths. We no longer consume things on whims, or on the advice of our parents or peers for their nutritional benefits, we want the hard facts and demand these facts most of the time be backed up by science and proper research. We read labels, watch our sugar and salt intake and supplement our diets with whatever one assumes one lacks; or be it what our modern lifestyles suggest is needed, to keep up.
One man saw the potential in this. Personal circumstances and poor health lead him to believe and fully endorse what we now see as one of the Amazon’s best-kept secrets and superfoods- Acai. Dwayne Martens is the owner of Amazonia, Australia’s number one organic superfood brand, and a brand that has leading positions in a further 12 countries around the globe. The company is a proud Gold Coast success story and in recent years has enjoyed great heights, but not without a share of adversity and setbacks. As our continued health-conscious eating habits and “living our best lives” attitudes soar, so too does the demand for what Amazonia ‘brings to the table’.
Yet, how is this feat attained, particularly in a market that is constantly evolving and with ethical values at its core.
Proven research says if you break the rules as a child and defy your parents often you’re significantly more likely to succeed in business- what are your thoughts on this?
“(Laughs) Yeah! Thinking and doing things differently isn’t always looked favourably on in childhood. If you break the rules, you can start to get the edge and let’s be honest- business can be ruthless, you need an edge. As much as you want it to be a ‘gentleman’s game’ more than often it’s not. I can fully understand this belief, I wasn’t the best-behaved kid at school and spent a fair amount of time in the principal’s office; you live, and you learn though, it didn’t phase me.”
In the early days did you ever think your business would be this big?
I thought I was going to take over the world, and then I got slapped in the face. I often find in life that when you start something and go in with a lot of passion, it will often fall into place early on. Yet as time goes by, it seems you can’t maintain that you begin to plateau.
In the beginning we launched freeze-dried acai. It was very of the moment, it was on the Oprah Winfrey show etc. and in a matter of a year we were a multi-million dollar company. Off the back of this we then quickly launched a series of other products and…they didn’t work.
Acai slowly came off the boil and then we had the Brisbane floods (2011), we went from hero to zero. It was character testing for sure, but here we are nine years later, proving it isn’t just a game of luck. Business is a brutal and persistent scenario.
What did the Floods and almost losing the business teach you?
Ah, firstly it was very humbling, but then we looked at each other, put our sneakers on and just hit the road again to sell. It taught me more about persistence, in that if you know you have something good, then you just have to persist at it.
What advantages and disadvantages does it have to Amazonia to be based on the Gold Coast and this area in general?
It epitomizes our brand. It’s a beautiful mix of the heat, sun and beach. Byron Bay is holistic and freethinking, whereas the Gold Coast is more fitness orientated; it creates a delicate balance. We’ve captured that in our brand and it appeals to the majority because this is a beautiful place to live. And with that sentiment, we actually make a lot of sales in this area alone. A disadvantage perhaps is finding people with specific skill sets in business, but naturally, people can be easily lured to live here!
How do you see the Health Supplement Sector going in the near future?
Health is growing exponentially. It seems like we are slowly catching on that the majority of the food we consume these days is not great. Unfortunately, this increase is more than often driven by people with issues in their health. Once people have felt the difference of eating well, it’s hard to go back. There is ‘fad health’ and ‘real health’ approaches and the latter is where we as Amazonia sit. Everyone is on his or her own health journey these days, gained understanding along the way should lead people to healthier choices, and as long as Amazonia is there, I know people will figure it out.
What can we expect to see as the next new thing?
We’ve pioneered the introduction of Jackfruit, also known as Tender Jack. We’ve launched a line, and thus far it has been quite successful, Jackfruit essentially is an alternative to processed plant-based meat alternatives. We’ve begun initiatives to plant more of these trees, which in its self is a reforestation act while generally, meat production results in deforestation.
Climate Change is a much talked about topic in the media worldwide. What stance and ethos does Amazonia take on this topic?
We’ve managed to do some really incredible things in the backdrop. Through our actions, we now have great sources of incredibly sustainable food. Tree-based agriculture is very important to us. We fully support and implement farmers to plant and maintain these ecosystems. Acai and Jackfruit could go a long way to feed the world, but it’s the sustainable management of these that matter. The communities we work with are paid well to plant these trees and maintain them. As the demand increases, we will inevitably plant more trees, which in turn will increase and strengthen these ecosystems
What is the most enjoyable part of your role?
I’m a creative and I love to develop new products, I love to put great looking packaging on the shelves for our customers. Deep down I’m a people pleaser I’m not your usual straight-talking businessman. I see myself as a bit of an artist!
What’s the most challenging part of your role?
It is actually creating something that is in demand and sells. It’s not just making a good looking and genuinely great product, but to ensure there are the resources and channels for it to come to the market effectively and how it is positioned. On top of that, you have to ensure your distribution is good and never rule out your competition.
Do you think anyone else could have created Amazonia, or did it take Dwayne Martens to do it?
It’s certainly not just me! But yes, I believe Amazonia fundamentally is a manifestation of my personal being. The products are influenced largely by myself, what comes out of my kitchen and what I have been seeking in my life. I believe most of the time; businesses are a child of an entrepreneur, I don’t think anyone else could have done the same business ultimately.