Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Dr. Vincent Candrawinata, Founder of Renovatio Bioscience

Vincent Candrawinata is the founder of Renovatio Bioscience, a range of skincare and pantry items that contain activated phenolic antioxidants from Australian Apples to fight inflammation. 

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I came to Australia in 2008 to study as an international student. Coming from a middle-class family in Indonesia, I wanted to save money by finishing my studies as fast as I could. I pushed hard and completed my double bachelor’s degree in two years.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Food Science and Human Nutrition in 2010 and instead of going back home to Indonesia, I was offered to work on a research project. What started as an ‘experiment’ turned out to be the start of my academic and entrepreneurial career.

As part of my PhD I led a team in a ground-breaking partnership between the University of Newcastle, Department of Primary Industries New South Wales and Horticulture Innovation, which saw me invent a world first technology to extract and activate phenolic antioxidants without the use of any chemical solvents.

On a trip back to Indonesia to visit my family I saw that my Grandma was suffering from a severe arthritic condition in her knees, seeing her in constant pain and with a lack of mobility, was just heartbreaking. She agreed to trial the results of my research, Activated Phenolics, as it could help with her inflammation.

Three months later, she and my Grandpa visited me in Sydney. It was one of the greatest feelings to see her walk and being active, being the Grandma I knew my whole life. She walked from Haymarket to the Opera House, something that she never thought she would be able to do ever again.

I grew up learning that it is important to always grow in life and help make a difference. As a scientist, that was exactly the reason I started my scientific journey. I was very fortunate that the first person I helped was my own Grandma.

I was awarded a patent for my technology and despite initial hesitation to commercialise the technology, I did it. My Grandma told me that I needed to do it because I have changed her life, I should help change other people’s lives too. I honoured her wish by naming my company Renovatio. Renovatio in Latin means New Life, it is my dream to give people a new life, in which they can be healthier and happier.

Renovatio is now in Woolworths and Coles across Australia and exporting internationally. We expanded from health supplements to skincare products and by working collaboratively with Woolworths, we just launched our first pantry product which is the world’s first Activated Apple Cider Vinegar.

It is the biggest game changing innovation to one of the most recognised natural remedies. Using our patented technology, we boost the goodness of apple cider vinegar beyond that of regular apple cider vinegar. The health benefits are boosted with Activated Phenolics to help fight inflammation, support gut health, healthy weight and blood sugar.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

My typical day starts with working out. I find that a morning exercise session helps to boost my energy level. I take my Activated Phenolics before I go to the gym to help my muscles and joints to recover more quickly. I have been having the same breakfast for years, 2 egg omelette and a long black coffee.

These past few weeks have been super exciting, busy and full on but exciting. I know it sounds cliché but I really do believe that when you love what you are doing, it doesn’t feel like work. I believe in the power of dreaming and I think it is very important to dream, but my mum taught me that it is also important to wake up in the morning, take a shower and fight for your dreams.

Last Monday was one of the busiest days in recent weeks. My training started at 7am and by 8am I was already on call with our production crew. We were commencing the brewing of our latest product, Activated Apple Cider Vinegar, which we have developed alongside Woolworths due to strong market interest. 

We’re expanding to incorporate our patented active ingredient into pantry items, essentially transforming everyday kitchen items into superfood. Launched in February, the response from the market has just been phenomenal, we were out of stock in two weeks and therefore this production round was crucial.

They call it FMCG – fast moving consumer goods, for a reason! So apple harvest, transport, manufacturing, distribution – I have to be really good at time management, something that my background in running a research lab taught me.

Unlike other brands that are made overseas, our Activated Apple Cider Vinegar is made in Australia. Our Activated Phenolics is made from 100% Aussie apples. This is important to me because I have been working very closely with Aussie apple farmers since 2010 and their apples are the gold standard when it comes to the phenolic antioxidant content, I will always be championing Aussie apples!

As an immigrant, it gives me so much gratitude and pride to contribute to Australia’s primary industries, adding value into our agricultural sector. We are one of Australia’s biggest exporters of apple based health and wellness products. Lucky for me, this passion and commitment resonate with our customers. They know that when they buy our products, they are not only supporting their health and wellbeing, but also supporting Aussie farmers.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

My work and life balance is great, if you’re asking me. Technology really makes it possible for me to run and manage everything from my iPhone. Exercising helps a lot for my mental resilience,as well as having an active social life.

Cooking for me is very therapeutic, my mum was a pastry chef and I really fell in love with the culinary world helping her in the kitchen. With the launch of our apple cider vinegar, I got the opportunity to merge my hobby and my work, developing recipes using our products.

Playing with my puppy Chilli is also on the top of the list of things that make me happy, and my ability to sleep well is my superpower. I sleep really well. 

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

The only thing that doesn’t change is the change itself, right? I believe in change, and I embrace changes, but I also believe in having principles. 

The most important aspect of change is learning, as someone who came from a career as an academic, I always value a learning opportunity. A change is not always good, sometimes it is bad but there is always a lesson that you can take from it.

Recently I also made a commitment to always say yes when Chilli wants to play. I know it sounds silly, but even just 3 minutes a day has made a huge improvement in my mood especially when it is a tough day. 

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

Oh, I miss reading, I have to admit that I don’t read as much as I used to because I now read for work. Off the top of my head, Michelle Obama’s Becoming was so great, there were so many lessons to take from her life’s journey, her unique perspectives, and how she navigated through difficult situations. I always put a news program in the background when working because I want to stay in the know.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I wouldn’t call it wisdom but I do have a few principles that I live by. I learned that to be successful in life, you need to have very thick skin. It is important to have the courage to stand your ground and stick to your values. I also learned that not everyone will be supportive, but if you truly believe in your dreams, you shouldn’t let other people’s opinion derail you from your path.

When I started my company, the so-called business experts kept asking me to change the name Renovatio, because they said most people can’t pronounce it and autocorrect changes it to Renovation. The first year we existed, people thought we were either an interior design firm or a construction company. I refused to do that because the name means a lot to me, it also serves as a reminder of the purpose of Renovatio, to help people.

The best lesson I learned is having a good heart and being kind. It sounds cheesy and silly right? But I firmly believe that while it is good to be an important person, it is much more important to be a good person. When you start your day, think of this: if I can only be one thing today, be kind. This applies to others as well as yourself. Often we are so good at being kind to other people but we forget to be kind to ourselves. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.