“I knew how to dive and how to work overtime, but running my own business? It takes a lot of courage to do it.”

Tanja Hohenester, Founder of tigovit

Credit: tigovit

Before I started my own business, I was working in the hotel industry internationally for about 15 years. I started in Mallorca in Spain before I moved to Fuerteventura and ended up in the Maldives for about 5 years, where I also worked as a diving instructor. I was also regularly going to Sri Lanka and India where I learned a lot about Ayurvedic medicine and the yogi lifestyle. I was really living a dream life on an Island for so many years and I remember, that I was always wearing white dresses and no shoes. Sometimes, when I ventured out to bigger cities, I would even forget my shoes. So I was living a nice lifestyle for a while. After spending another six years in Greece and Cyprus, I went back home to Germany because I thought I needed to have a normal life. I continued working in hotels, but I also started to study sales and marketing on the side.

When I returned to Germany, my gynecologist diagnosed a fibroid (benign uterine growth). As a holistic person, hormone therapy or immediate surgery was out of the question for me. But I am good at researching things so looked for alternatives. I came across a study in which patients with fibroid responded positively to taking EGCG, an active ingredient in green tea. So I ordered green tea capsules online and after six months my fibroid growth had not only stopped, the tumor actually shrank.

After my illness and the discovery of the great treasure that green tea can represent for us, I knew that I had found my “soul mission”, my life project. I had a very intuitive connection to nature from an early age and now I found something to pass on. Many women are desperately looking for homeopathic options against fibroids and the successful self-experiment was the spark that gave me the impulse for my concept. The idea of my business was born.

I was always drawn to entrepreneurship but never thought that I would ever be an entrepreneur. I didn´t even know how to register a company. I knew how to dive and how to work overtime, but running my own business? It takes a lot of courage to do it.

I was actually very insecure and I didn’t have any self-confidence. Picking up the phone and calling someone in the industry was very challenging for me. But I really wanted this and I believed in my business idea. I knew from the bottom of my heart that this was the right thing to do. So I just took it step by step and got more confident as I worked my way through it.

My brother is a very successful entrepreneur and he helped me a lot to build my business. He was not constantly there but he was someone I could ask when I got stuck. He was especially helpful with his connections to the health industry. He knew a professor who specialized in green tea extract and who knew how to make the best out of the bioavailability of the ingredients. Luckily, this professor was currently working on a self-study since he was diagnosed with a very rare disease, called Amyloidosis. It’s a very suffering disease without any known medical treatment or chemotherapy — unfortunately, most affected people die from it sooner or later. The only known natural ingredient that improves the course of the disease, is green tea. This professor, Dr. Hunstein, drank during his self-study more than three liters of green tea every day and found out that his symptoms disappeared within six months. Based on his findings, Dr. Hunstein developed a recipe for the best green tea capsules that helped to treat this disease and increased the bioavailability. His self-study and research were highly published in one of the most scientific papers, the Nature magazine, which I used as a basis to develop my product line. I got in touch with another professor, one of his friends actually, who helped me to develop the final recipe. It took us around two years until we got the product ready for launch.

The first year was purely hard work and partially very frustrating. I was a one-woman show mainly doing everything by myself. My mom helped me a little bit with the logistics while started to do cold visits and cold calls. I did it every day, come summer and winter. Every day, I would visit between 6 and 10 doctor offices to introduce Tigovit to potential clients. I didn´t have a big marketing budget which meant I had to do a lot of legwork myself. I was very confident and I liked to talk to people. And even though it took me a while to get the first orders in, I went out again and again with my luggage full of samples, running around Munich and visiting organic ecologists.

I was able to attend my first conference, the Natural Medicine Congress in Baden Baden, because I borrowed 1000 euros from my parents to book a booth. I went there with my mom and we stayed in a cheap hotel because we couldn’t afford much. I remember having our booth aside from the main traffic, all the big pharma companies were in the other big rooms, and we still sold so much Tigovit. It was such a success — and we thought this would be our breakthrough. But unfortunately, it wasn’t working that fast. To make this work I had to have a lot of investments to be able to grow in a healthy manner. And then I went to another Congress, where I met a professor from Berlin. He suggested that we should do a study together on green tea and fibroids, because there was no study made in Germany at this point, and given that I got diagnosed with fibroids, I could actually do it as a self-study. Doing this gave me not only credibility but also a lot of attention in the press and via word of mouth — aka, my breakthrough. Today, Tigovit is well known in the gynecology market and is used widely for scientific research. The best part is, since it´s based on natural ingredients, it has no side effects. Additionally, to that, Tigovit is made in Germany, which stands worldwide for high quality.

In may 2023 we will launch our products in the United States, which with more than 300 million people and a huge supplement market is a perfect place for expanding our business. Statistically, a lot of black people, especially women of color, are suffering more from fibroids than for example European women. With us entering the American market we want to help women with fibroids and with breast cancer, maybe even supporting a study in the US as well. We´re currently talking to different kinds of doctors. We see that there’s a need for that, and we see that there’s a need for good quality products. Our products will still be manufactured in Germany, only distribution will be handled from the US directly. For me personally, it made sense to take on the United States as our next market, because it’s a very similar culture, I have friends in the US and I feel at home.

As of now, I registered my company in Florida and I work with a partner, who´s also helping me with customer service and getting everything set up. Our new website will be going live in May and we´re planning on collaborating with a couple of clinics and speaking at some conferences, mainly gynecologist or biohacking congresses, as well. Once we´re ready to enter the market we plan to work with influencers and activate our social media and marketing strategies.

See Also

Starting from scratch in the US is totally different compared to starting out in the German market. Even though there will be a lot of similarities to our start in Germany, this time we want to do it differently. We want to highlight the lifestyle that connects with it and showcase that swallowing a pill is not enough. Instead, we need to think about the whole concept of nutrition, movement, and mindset. I want my customers to see the big picture and to think about what they can do for their bodies to stay healthy and more focused.

As the founder, I personally look back on seven years of dealing with this kind of problem. Getting through it, without having to undergo surgeries was a major thing for me. I will soon go back to Puerto Rico to do yoga teacher training, as a personal achievement. I love yoga, and I want to teach people yoga and give them something more. I would love to have my own retreat and give the people the chance to come, relax, and give them an amazing experience with yoga, meditation, mindfulness, biohacking, and maybe even offering diving courses. This would be my dream.



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