Student Entrepreneur Takes on the Sports Supplement Business:

An Interview with Ronéll Rosier

By Carolina Blümke Culture | April 24, 2024

Cover Illustration: An action shot of Rosier with a natural background. Ronéll Rosier

In this interview, Reporter Carolina Blümke speaks to VU graduate Ronéll Rosier about founding her company Flourish and business advice for those interested in taking a similar path.

In 2022, Ronéll Rosier, a 23-year-old athlete, entrepreneur and graduate of the Vrije Universitet Amsterdam (VU) founded her company Flourish that sells natural supplements. Being a committed athlete on the running track six days a week, she’s pushing not only her physical, but also her creative limits with this fresh entrepreneurial endeavour. The learning doesn’t stop, as she is also pursuing her Master’s in sport and performance psychology while minoring in health care management. We all get ideas that start with “what if…”, but what does it truly take to translate “what ifs” to “when”? 

Ronéll Rosier profile picture. Ronéll Rosier
Interview with Ronéll Rosier 


Who is your biggest role model?

My biggest role model is my mom. It may sound like a cliché, but her unwavering mentality inspires me. In the face of adversity, she refuses to give up, proving repeatedly that the impossible is achievable. She shows confidence in her abilities, and witnessing her resilience is admirable. For me, she symbolises the essence of a great role model.

Role models, such as parental role models, are crucial for success, but the definition of this concept is very subjective. How do you define success?

Initially, I viewed success through the lens of business accomplishments and financial stability. However, as I’ve matured (not yet fully), my definition of success has changed. Now, success for me is personal fulfilment and positively impacting society. It’s about finding joy and contentment within oneself while striving to contribute to bettering others’ lives.

This actually reminds me of Plato’s concept of Eudaimonia, which interestingly enough translates to “flourishing”. Achieving happiness for him meant pursuing your own potential, which means pursuing possibilities, opportunities, careers. Why did you decide to pursue this particular possibility? And what sparked your interest in nutritional supplements? 

The idea for Flourish originated from my academic research on the plant Rhaponticum Carthamoides and its effects on muscle protein synthesis. Upon completing my thesis, my professor encouraged me to explore the possibility of commercialising this research. This key moment ignited the spark for Flourish! As for nutritional supplements, my passion for optimising and maintaining human performance led me to delve into this area, recognising the potential to impact individuals’ well-being positively.

While you were reflecting back on the roots of your project, how does your business look now vs. when you first started?

Luckily, my business has grown since its start. Nowadays, Flourish shows a more professional demeanour, continually enhancing every aspect, such as improving the website, packaging etc. With a growing customer base, my focus is now on expanding our social media presence.

Putting these enhancements, rapid changes and obstacles into context: What is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur? 

For me, juggling my entrepreneurial aspirations alongside my academic and sports commitments is the greatest challenge.

What helped you optimize your work-life balance when it came to your academic career, sports career, and now your business career?

Maintaining a work-life balance can sometimes be a tall order. While my academic pursuits demand the most time and effort, sports serve as a form of relaxation and mental restoration. Strangely enough, my sport and business career fuel my energy and passion. Although it’s a constant juggle, finding joy in my pursuits motivates me.

Do you think your academic background from VU has helped you during your entrepreneurial endeavours, or do you think that this was more of an independent initiative?

My academic background from VU has undoubtedly significantly shaped my entrepreneurial journey. Studying human movement sciences provided me with invaluable insights into the complexity of the human body, which proved instrumental in developing Flourish‘s products and strategies.

What role does social media play in your business model, and how does social media engagement contribute to the success of a startup?

Social media is a vital component of our business model, facilitating brand awareness, customer engagement, and sales. However, I must be more active on social media because it can enhance your startup!

What are some other milestones you would like to achieve with your business?

Shortly, I aspire for Flourish to become a leading quality brand in elite sports and high-performance sectors. However, my ultimate mission is to positively impact more lives through our products, helping individuals flourish physically and mentally.

Reaching more lives means expanding the customer base. Are there any discussions on branching out to other countries, such as Germany or Belgium?

Yes, expanding into international markets is a part of my vision. We’re actively exploring opportunities in Germany, particularly within ice hockey!

Sounds like you’re really going places! What advice would you give to newcomers interested in starting their own business?

My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is simple: Just get started. Whether you achieve great success or encounter failure, the journey will teach you invaluable lessons. Embrace the challenges, remain resilient, and never stop learning. Go for it (but don’t forget to use your brains)!

…Now let’s break this down into a business plan! 

Steps to Success for a Student Entrepreneur

Step 1: Research

A unique selling point is a must. For Rosier this meant reading, reading and more reading! Besides intensively studying literature, this also meant researching businesses in the food supplement industry. As she noticed how vast this industry is, finding that unique twist to her business was vital. Her focus was on quality, specifically that of the Rhaponticum plant which is known for reducing fatigue and improving endurance. This plant led her all the way to Kazakhstan, where she met with a professor who dedicated more than 30 years of his life to  researching it. She stressed the significance of expertise, also in terms of reliability and quality of the product, especially “because the majority of the Rhaponticum was and is still falsified”. She then found a supplier that met her quality standards, which included not using heavy metals in the ground orpesticides. 

Step 2: Branding

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a common saying, but in the world of business Rosier highlights that a product needs to stand out, not only through its quality, but also visually.  She developed a logo and her branding strategy together with a graphic design company. This process involves hours of negotiation, as well as a lot of research and money, so Rosier’s advice is to go to your design-minded friends first.

Step 3: Finances

No matter how much you set aside, start looking for investors early. After the branding and sourcing process, Rosier exceeded her savings. This meant that turning to investors was her last resort. Fortunately, she found people that sincerely believed in her mission and secured a loan to cover the initial costs. Rome wasn’t built in one day; long-term support is needed and nothing to be ashamed of!    

Step 4: Finalisation

Having her funding secured meant that Rosier could continue with production and website-building. She already had her house style, which refers to the visual identity of a business. She then did some minor touch ups on the visuals and also looked into the capsulation of the supplements. Through the World Anti-Drug Agency’s (WADA) tests for quality assurance, she could guarantee that her product is doping-free. But she still affirmed that she “had to get the word out and marketing was key,” stating “that is the thing I was and still am not good at”. 

Step 5: Networking 

Your network is your net worth. Like any other skill, networking isn’t a chore or a distraction, it’s an asset! Reflecting on her progress, there were many things Rosier accomplished: she invested a lot in the quality of her product, building a sleek website, designing eye-catching packaging, and going through WADA quality assurance tests. But still, she admitted that her social media progress wasn’t even close to what she hoped for. This is the harsh reality of an entrepreneur. Nevertheless, she persevered and referred to her personal connections, such as her trainer Henk Kraaijenhof and her mother to meet with potential partners and customers, helping her to spread the word about her product.

Step 6: One step back, two steps forward!

As Rosier best puts it: “Persistence pays off. Starting a business is no easy feat, especially while studying. But with determination, thorough research, and a supportive network, anything is possible. This journey has taught me the importance of resilience and believing in the power of my ideas.” 

If our interview and Rosier’s tips intrigued you, look into this article on what it means to start a business in the Netherlands! 

“Persistence pays off. Starting a business is no easy feat, especially while studying. But with determination, thorough research, and a supportive network, anything is possible. This journey has taught me the importance of resilience and believing in the power of my ideas.” — Ronéll Rosier

Carolina Blümke is a university student in Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer. 

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