Only a few Hamburg startups are successful worldwide. Vivere is one of them, yet the company itself is barely known. Its steadily increasing turnover is due to its own brands, in the development of which data analysis plays an important role. But the Hamburg-based company is now also attracting major customers.
AfterAlc is the name of an over-the-counter effervescent tablet that is still available in pharmacies, on Amazon and some other digital marketplaces. As the name suggests, it is designed to minimise the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. This is usually felt by participants in a stag party. It was at one such party that friends Sebastian Johnston and Christopher Glatzel came up with the idea of developing a hangover remedy.
Legend has it that the first draft recipe fitted onto a beer mat, but the realisation proved to be much more complicated. Months passed in the search for a suitable contract manufacturer and the first version of AfterAlc turned out to be undrinkable. Eventually, however, the product was ready for the market and achieved pleasing sales, with Amazon proving to be a suitable distribution channel. For around five years, the anti-hangover remedy remained a lucrative sideline for the founders, before they decided to channel their accumulated expertise in consumer goods into a new company.
However, Vivere, founded at the end of 2018, was to be very different from AfterAlc. The effervescent tablets were the result of a personal experience, literally a gut decision. For many startups, this is the starting point for a success story, but personal needs are often overestimated and not shared by a sufficiently large number of customers. At Vivere, product development therefore always begins with online research. AfterAlc sold well on Amazon, not least because it was easy to find using certain search terms.
The basic principle is simple and well known. You enter a keyword such as "facial care" into Google and see which combinations of terms are particularly popular. They obviously describe problems for which many people are looking for a solution. In the next step, the Vivere team then determines whether such a solution already exists in product form. This is often the case, but sometimes this reveals a gap in the market that the startup can fill.
It is therefore no coincidence that Vivere has a range of care products for dogs in its programme under the name Belly, Repell Shield, a brand with products against vermin, or a spray that offers athletes a secure grip on their sports equipment. What all products have in common is a formulation that is limited to natural and vegan ingredients. A criterion that plays an important role in many search queries these days.
Another mutual feature is far less common and self-evident: all products are developed and manufactured in Germany, more precisely, exclusively in Hamburg. The reason for this is the experience with AfterAlc: back then, the search for producers and subsequent coordination took many months, whereas today it sometimes takes less than ten weeks from the initial idea to market launch.
This is made possible by a series of machines that Vivere has acquired in recent years. It started with a semi-automatic filling pump, but the startup now has 14 machines that are primarily suitable for manufacturing products from the cosmetics, personal care and food supplement sectors. For everything that "flows or trickles", as the company itself defines it. Or what fits into a tube, as the equipment also includes a tube filling machine.
Vivere still generates most of its turnover in Germany, yet international business is becoming increasingly important. It is doing particularly well in the UK, but the company has also been able to gain a foothold in markets as diverse and complicated as the USA, Saudi Arabia and China. In addition to its own brands, orders such as that from the Zumba fitness group are driving growth. It all started in Wiesbaden, but soon moved to Hamburg for personal reasons. Vivere has already moved three times in total, necessitated by constantly increasing space requirements. The startup currently has 2,500 square metres of space, mainly for production and storage. And even that will not be enough in the long term if development continues as before.
Vivere's international focus is also reflected in the composition of the team. The employees, most of whom are highly qualified and have been honoured with numerous academic titles, come from a wide variety of countries, so the company language is English. However, Dr Roland Harste, who joined Vivere in 2021 and took over the position of CEO and Managing Director, is a true North German. He grew up in Eckernförde and completed his studies in Hamburg. Temporarily, he worked in Tyrol for the long-established company Swarowski. Personal reasons also played a role in his return to Hamburg, as did the prospect of being able to set entrepreneurial accents as an additional co-founder.
Vivere was able to take its first steps without outside capital. When it became clear that the purchase of various machines was necessary to realise the company's goals, the search for investors began. This proved to be less time-consuming than expected and was a matter of weeks rather than months. In the meantime, over 10 million euros have flowed into the company in several rounds. One of the main investors is the Swiss VC firm Redalpine, while Xing founder Lars Hinrichs and Uwe Sommer, former CEO of chocolate manufacturer Lindt & Sprüngli, are also involved.
If everything goes as planned, Vivere will soon be able to announce a new round of financing. This would further accelerate growth, which has so far totalled around 50% year on year. In any case, Vivere has the capacity to produce up to 500,000 units of certain products per month if required. This could become a reality if the company were to enter the retail sector, where it is not yet represented.
Regardless of where Vivere's journey takes it, the company will definitely be staying in Hamburg. The city's high quality of life makes it attractive for international specialists. But the local universities, such as the Hamburg University of Technology, also ensure a supply of talent. Vivere has also frequently utilised the services of the Elbe-Werkstätten, which employ people with disabilities, for the assembly of its products. And from the company headquarters in the middle of the Wilhelmsburg district, the harbour and the Elbphilharmonie concert hall can be seen from afar. It doesn't get much more Hamburg than that.