2021: A Radically Transparent Rasa Recap

2021: A Radically Transparent Rasa Recap

As we head into 2022, we wanted to take time to reflect on our growth, challenges, failures, and all that we accomplished in 2021. One of our values at Rasa is Radical Transparency—you likely know by now we’re not a company that likes to do “business as usual,” but rather to take you along for the ride. We aim to be transparent in all aspects of the business, from our team, to fulfillment, sales, sourcing, and beyond.

With all that said, here’s a look into the highs, lows, and accomplishments of this year!

We launched 4 new products while continuing to deepen our herb supplier relationships and sustainability commitments 🌿

While I’m always proud to launch new products like Golden Chai & Peppermint Cacao, I’m equally proud of the less flashy work we’ve been doing behind the scenes to make existing products more potent, more sustainable, and more flavorful. Some of the exciting work done in 2021 that will start being realized in 2022 includes getting our roasted date seed certified organic (first shipment just arrived!), swapping out many conventional extracts with better organic ones (woohoo for bigger volumes!), and switching our wild-crafted Chinese rhodiola (no longer sustainable) to organic cultivated Canadian rhodiola (the first shipment arrives this month!). In a start-up that moves as fast as we do, it is surprisingly satisfying to go back and continue developing, perfecting, and deepening our existing blends & supply chain.

- Ben, Co-Founder and Chief Herbalist

But... why didn’t you make more!?!? 😱

Watching our new products launch successfully is always a bittersweet day for our operations team, shifting between “OMG YAY they love it!” and “shit, why didn’t we make more!? “

We wanted to have Peppermint Cacao last all of December, and it sold out in 3 days.

We planned to have Golden Chai around all fall, but it sold out in less than a month.

We’ve delayed launching Calm 2lb bags all year, because each time we order extra ingredients to make them, we then end up needing to reallocate the ingredients to make even more of the regular 8oz bags than we planned (the 2lb-ers are coming soon, we promise!).

Forecasting how much to make for our new products needs to be done months in advance, which means we don’t always know how the company will grow by the time we launch, and we also don’t know what your response will be to each product launch.

We source our herbs months in advance as well, so in order to make another run of a limited edition product, we need 4-5 months to source the herbs. Even if we had all the herbs, it would take us at least 2 months to re-order the packaging, send everything to our co-packer, get on the production schedule, and get the finished Rasa bags back to us.

But, it still breaks our heart when you say “Please make more!” because we feel the same (most of our team is counting the days until Golden and Peppermint Cacao hopefully make a triumphant return in 2022! 🤞).

There are a lot of moving pieces that go into making Rasa, and we try to walk that fine line of having enough for everyone, but not make too much in case it doesn’t sell as well as we think it will (which isn’t good for business, nor for the plants involved as we never want to waste!)

The good news is that we listen carefully to your feedback, and it helps us plan for future launches, inform decision making as to what to add to our permanent line, and helps us to better understand you, our customers, so we can continue to refine new and limited edition product launches. Thanks for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this!

We grew our manufacturing and sales while refining our infrastructure 📈

In 2020, we made a little over 66,000 bags of Rasa. In 2021, we made 180,000 bags - that is a whole lot of Rasa! We sold $5.1 million worth of product this year, which represents a 43% Year-Over-Year growth from last year.

One of our biggest achievements this year was getting a proper inventory system in place in to manage this massive growth (a shared Google sheet only takes you so far when you’re bringing in over 60 herbs from all over the world, making way more Rasa than you ever have before, launching 4 products, and getting everyone’s order out ASAP!)

Our new inventory system is a really cool software that lives in the cloud and lets us keep track of all of our purchase orders, productions, stored inventory and sales all in one place.

While it’s such a fantastic tool now, getting something like this set up is hard. We had to physically count (and recount) thousands of pounds of herbs and bags of Rasa across three warehouses, upload spreadsheet after spreadsheet of product data to make sure every detail was correct, triple check that every order was coming though properly, build out new reporting processes, and get the whole team trained on using something new.

Whew - it was a lot! But I’m so excited we were able to get it done, because now we’re set up to make even MORE bags of Rasa in 2022!

- Leah, Director of Strategy and Analytics

We launched an equity crowdfunding campaign, and raised over $2.7 million (from many of you!) 🤯

We publicly launched our crowdfunding campaign in October, opening up investments from our community and beyond. We’ve been floored by the response, and humbled how many customers have invested in our company and shared words of how Rasa has impacted their lives. As of writing, we’ve raised $2,733,471 from 1,688 investors.

”I am so grateful, quite surprised, and a little bit shellshocked by all the people that have, and continue to, invest in Rasa. It is amazing to see the love and belief in what we are doing. It adds some extra pressure to elevate our performance, which I embrace.”

- Erik, General Manager 

We’ve massively upgraded our team & our poop is increasingly in a group.

We constantly refine, grow, educate, and improve our team. And each year, we’re able to attract even more incredible humans as our brand gets more well-known, our culture more cohesive, our benefits more comprehensive, and our ability to pay for pros gets more and more. We’ve expanded our team by 5 (+ 3 more coming soon!), and along the way restructured our organizational chart and got more people into their right seats. 🙌

We also started getting more serious about implementing EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System - highly recommend for business owners!), which meant that goals and processes got tighter and more efficient. One of my mentors got a peek at our EOS back-end and I was so proud when she said she was really impressed we have such organization at this stage of business. 😃

And Erik took over the Integrator role, which allowed me (Lopa) to step more and more into the role of Visionary, which has helped my energy and stress levels MASSIVELY as I move more and more into my zone of genius!

Thanks to these upgrades in team and processes, I feel like my internal “low-level panic switch” turned off in the last few months, and I’ve been more relaxed about the business and life than I’ve been since starting Rasa. (and there was much rejoicing - specifically from my husband, family, friends, and therapist 😛*)*

- Lopa, Founder and CEO

Customer Care responded to over 30,000 tickets (!!)

We work hard. We also love what we do, and it shows. Our Customer Experience Team receives and responds to an average of 3,000 tickets a month - which means each person on our small team sends out roughly 1,000 emails a month. Most of the tickets require work to be completed before the response is sent out and can take up to 15 minutes to complete. After a ticket is completed, an automatic survey is sent out to our customers and we have maintained an average rating of around 4.9 stars. These responses from customers are checked on a daily basis to see if there is anything else we can do to assist someone if a negative review comes in.

This can be extremely overwhelming, though! A large percentage of our tickets are people who either need something (changes to their subscriptions/orders/shipments - questions regarding health and medications, etc.) or are upset—since people generally are more inclined to reach out when something is wrong.

It’s also incredibly rewarding. I have personally been a large part of some of our customer's Rasa Journey. I know them. I sometimes see a customer send an email just because they are lonely. Our only purpose with Rasa’s Customer Experience is to ensure our customers feel taken care of.

- Veronica, former Customer Care Manager (now our B2B Sales Manager!)

We brought our creative team completely in-house (for the win-house)

2021 was the year we came to terms with our preference for working in-house rather than with agency partners. I’m a 20 year veteran of agencies, including having previously owned an agency myself and worked in and with many others. I understand where agencies have great strengths and also where they have weakness. And after trying several configurations here at Rasa, the bottom line is #inhouseforthewinhouse.

We’re just best suited to doing it all ourselves.

This awareness did not come without bumps, maybe even a few bruises. And yet, we emerge better, stronger and more nimble than before. Over the course of 2021, largely in the second half, we shifted to operating our email, SMS, organic social, paid media (ads), and even our web development (engineering), in-house or with the help of team-integrated contractors.

And it is ✨marvelous.✨ Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work, and sometimes we’re doing things at the last minute, or other departments have to wait too long for their needs to be met. But we’re also improving processes, and getting our bandwidth up—doing it all ourselves is simply the best. I couldn’t be prouder of my team, and the work we’re creating as we go into 2022. Big things are coming, and we can’t wait to share it all with you.

- Ben, Creative Director

Thanks for being part of the Rasa journey—we literally couldn’t do it without you. We can’t wait to show you what we have in store for 2022, and continue to build this business alongside you, while serving our mission of transforming the way you energize.