United World sits down with Alvaro Zuñiga Benavides, Founding President and CEO of FuXion Biotech SAC, talking with him his company’s origins, mission and differentiating factors.
What is FuXion?
FuXion is a young and passionate food manufacturing company that markets and sells high quality food supplements extracted from selected super-fruits and vegetables from Andean, Amazonian and Oriental origins. Our name “FuXion” comes from the “fusion” (or combination) of millenary knowledge from ancient cultures with modern science and technology to develop a unique product and service offering to improve the overall wellbeing of people, through body, mind and spiritual nutrition.
Since our origins, we decided to commit to a direct sales model in order to reach out, develop and engage customers with our “True Health” value proposition, which aims at improving our customer´s physical, emotional and financial health, thus our tag line, “We Improve Your Health”.
FuXion is present in 12 countries, including Perú, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Panamá, Nicaragua, Guatemala, México and the United States, where we have been present since 2014 and we will formally launch our operations during the fourth quarter of 2015. Our plans include to open Argentina and Brazil in Latin America during the next 12 months while initiating our European operations in Spain next year while starting to explore other international markets for 2017.
We have almost 50,000 distributors in all this countries, supported by close to 600 staff members in all 12 countries and our consolidated sales figures in 2014 were US$ 80 million, with Perú, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica explaining more than 60% of our sales. For 2015 we expect to grow again by more than 50%. We expect to reach sales in excess of US$ 500 million in the next three years to 2018.
When was FuXion founded? How did it all start?
FuXion was founded in 2006, on the back of more than 15 years of previous experience in the food processing and manufacturing industry. With funded the company with the support of friends and family, including a relevant investment from two friends from childhood, Frank and Derek Michell, who are now successful entrepreneurs and from my brother, Rafael Zúñiga Benavides, who was an investment banker in Europe at the time and now serves as Executive Board Member. For me it was a logical extension of my dream to ensure that our high quality products reach as many potential customers as possible, leveraging on a grass roots, person-to-person distribution model. We invested the first several years of operations in developing our product offering. We wanted to have a product offering for the whole family, my vision was to ensure that all family members could share a healthy lifestyle and therefore at the core of value proposition is our passion to foster and promote a balanced diet for all family members where our products play a specific role, to further improve a balanced diet. We started with sports nutrition, extending our product offering to energy drinks, immunology, weight loss, anti-aging, kids nutrition and women specific nutrition, ensuring in all cases that we leverage on more than 1,500 active ingredients extracted from natural fruits and vegetables and combining them in unique formulations that generate significant synergies amongst themselves, creating what we call the “X factor”, the multiplier effect.
How did you come with the idea of combining the millenary knowledge of Andean, Amazonian and Asian cultures with modern biotechnology?
It emerged as a result of one of my passions in life, to discover and understand the impact of certain foods in our body, mind and spirit. When I was young I was always curious and surprised by my grandmother’s knowledge and her understanding of the effects of certain foods in our bodies. I therefore developed a passion that was superior to none and I started reading and experimenting about food properties before I was a teenager, with a curiosity that grew year by year. In every family trip, in every opportunity I had, I would spend time and energy trying to understand and gather knowledge about people’s natural food intake and impact it had on improving a balanced diet.
This passion led me to promote a healthy lifestyle amongst people surrounding me and to experiment, understand and study the specific health benefits of targeted nutrition. During high school and later on during my Industrial Engineering studies I continued to gather knowledge and experience and it was only natural that I started my career in the food processing and manufacturing sector. Later on, during my MBA studies, I came up with one of my first business ventures and after 15 years of experience I managed to cope up with the two main ingredients of FuXion: First, the concept of the Nutraceutical Fusion, the process of merging ancient millenary food and nutrition knowledge of Andean, Amazonian and Oriental cultures with modern biotechnology, and, secondly, a distribution model that allowed us to deliver our high quality products through a word of mouth process, sharing their passion for a healthy lifestyle. Following more than 3 years of research and development to develop our offering and to develop our network marketing organization, we started our growth and expansion plan back in 2011 and since then we have had an exponential growth process, and during these last 4 years we expanded internationally into more than 12 countries.
Our team, together with our distributors and customers or, the FuXion Movement as we call ourselves, is determined to share a healthy lifestyle with Latin passion, a combination of enthusiasm, joy and unconditional love for family, friends and the community, a passion that will be embodied by people from any nation while we incorporate, country to country, their heritage and healthy lifestyle culture.
Can you help us understand how FuXion implements its True Health mission? How does FuXion impact the physical, emotional and financial wellbeing of its customers?
“True Health” is about three dimensions of life: physical health, emotional health and financial health. This is a process, a transformation process to a healthy lifestyle:
First, we focus on physiology, ensuring that we understand the needs from every customer ensuring that they follow a balanced nutritional diet, adding the appropriate FuXion products to complement and strengthen its health. This is the essence of our approach as there is no better argument to a better life style than feeling well. Our FuXion Movement is there to share its passion and commitment for good nutrition and exercise to improve our physical health.
In parallel, based on previous experience, we realized that almost all people were enthusiastic about changing its lifestyle to a healthier one, but from rational enthusiasm to action, there is a gap that needed to be covered through personal development and a journey into self-transformation in order to make the lifestyle changes permanent. Following this path, we created FuXion Leadership School that evolved into SerFuXion (BeingFuXion in English), a program of experiential workshops, courses and seminars to support our customers in their personal development and self-transformation objectives. It is interesting to note that in modern society we are many times defined for what we do (the Doing) as opposed for who we are (the Being) and FuXion, based on millenary knowledge from ancient cultures and modern neuroscience, is developing the training, tools and experiential processes to revalue our true self, thus providing the skills and toolkit to live life to its full extent, with an unparalleled emotional health or wellbeing.
Thirdly, we have one of the most attractive compensation plans in the industry that allow our distributors to earn a reasonable and sizeable commission income. However, we know that once the expected lifestyle is achieved, wealth accumulation needs to be complemented and since joining, we promote that every customer experiences the joy of giving. There is no true happiness without sharing within the family and society and therefore FuXion is there to promote the development of an abundant mindset, investing time (and money) in helping other family members and members of the society in which they live. We are engaged in a number of initiatives together with our distributors and customers, actively participating in Aldeas Infantiles SOS initiatives, a leading international non-for profit organization supporting children and we have committed to significantly grow our “Buenos Días FuXion” program (“Good Morning FuXion”) that provides breakfasts to children in poor segments of the population. This is the way we provide financial health to our team members, making sure they earn money to fulfil its most ambitious dreams while experiencing the joy of giving.
How is FuXion different from other leading network marketing companies? What sets it apart from other players?
We are humble, passionate and relentless in our mission to add value to our customers. We spend every second of our life thinking on better ways to add value to the lifestyle of our customers. There are at least two differential factors that we would like to stress: First, the fact that we are one of the few players in the industry that emerged from the food processing and manufacturing industry and therefore, our passion is on delivering the highest quality and value added products to our customers; and, second, the fact that we have a long standing passion and business philosophy that acknowledges that Mother Nature has most of the ingredients needed to nurture a healthy, vibrant and cool lifestyle and we are always open to learn from any ancient culture and any new technology to add value to our customers.
In connection to our first differentiating factor, it is important to stress the company’s products are backed by patents encompassing decades of research and several million dollars in investments. Products are made by combining almost 1,500 active ingredients extracted from natural foods using state-of-the-art processes and blending them in unique formulations that increase the health benefits of each principle. Back in 2011, I filed one of my first patents, the BioProtein+ Colostrum® invention, a protein created through a process and a formulation that maximizes the bioavailability of high value natural nutrients that allowed the company to grow and expand its product offering. We may not yet have the strongest sales and marketing organization, but our passion backed by millenary traditions and modern science is second to none! We are now integrating backwards in partnership with our key suppliers and we are investing in a new extraction plant in the city of Iquitos, the main city in the Peruvian Amazonian region while further investing in our science and biotechnology lab. We have started a partnership with Universidad de la Amazonía del Perú (UNAP) to foster and promote food and nutrition research and to test and implement new technological processes.
In connection to our second differentiating factor, we would like to further stress our commitment to Mother Nature: we have recently acquires 75 acres in the Amazonian region to build our training and convention center, with plans to build an “experience center” called FuXionLand. The project includes: i) a convention center that will serve as a gathering point for people from around the world that are willing to connect back with nature; ii) a lodge and spa where guests can focus on rebalancing their emotional wellbeing, relaxation, meditation and massage; iii) a large area devoted to fun and exercise, which will include activities as part of the Amazon adventure; and, iv) a biotech lab that will show and demonstrate the way we bring nature to their daily beverages, teas and shakes. In addition, we shall organize tips into the Amazon River in order to experience nature at its fullest while connecting with local communities to help them grow and develop as an integral part of our FuXion Movement social responsibility initiatives.
What are the reasons behind the exponential growth rates that FuXion has had in the last 3 to 4 years?
The main two forces behind these growth rates are: i) a global trend to connect back with Nature and the FuXion is just that and, ii) the passion of our team that demonstrates that the FuXion Movement is beginning to emerge. Learning from nature, during 2006 to 2010 we spent significant time learning to prepare for growth and form previous ventures and experiences, we clearly understand the stages of growth we need to manage and, we can confirm that we could have grown even faster but we preferred to manage cautiously our organization, making sure that we take our time to properly enroll new customers, to let them fall in love with our “True Health” promise and making sure that they are prepared and ready to communicate the same vision and message to the people that they bring to adhere into our FuXion Movement. Our intention is to get close to people and understand their needs to see which area of life we can add value, in order be consistent with our mission and tag line, “We Improve Your Life”.
What do you expect from the United States market? Do you think that United States customers are prepared to embrace FuXion’s culture? How are you planning to conquer the market?
The United States market is a very competitive and demanding market and we expect to continue learning before starting to grow fast, making sure we add value with our product offering, with our lifestyle and culture. We are a different company, one that relentlessly focuses on proving value added to customers, one that shares value with customers, distributors and society as a precondition to long term sustainability, one that is committed to learn from nature, incorporating millenary knowledge while leveraging modern science and technology, one that sees cooperation where others see competition.
By all means, we expect the Northern American market to emerge as our largest international operation within the next three years and therefore we are under enthusiastic about the challenges ahead.
Our culture is one of humbleness, passion and love for who we are and what we do and every country we expand, we focus on learning from them on how to strengthen this culture. We embrace new ideas, new concepts to further add value to customers and from the United States we are determined to learn a lot from their culture and in fact, since founding the company we always appreciated and role modelled the discipline and the determination of the United States nationals, clearly stated in the rights of men in their Declaration of Independence: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, that in a way is what the FuXion Movement is all about.
We are confident that people from the United States will embrace our mission, we are convinced that they will help us shape and improve our company and once the FuXion Movement has enough distributors, customers and team members from the United States and with them, adding their experience and value added to our company, we will be in a position to expand further internationally. We are arriving into the United States with a humble yet strong message from nature and we will not conquer the market, we will add value to ensure that we conquer the market with them on board!