A stressful career in finance prompted Nitel’s journey to find a better way to manage her health; sparking a passion for alternative therapies. This passion has since shaped two successful startups founded on the cutting edge of health technology; Nitel and her co-founders were ahead of the curve bringing flotation tanks to Australia, then cryotherapy.
In this week’s episode of success stories, Nitel talks with Catherine Robson about the compelling results of putting your body in a quick deep freeze, bootstrapping a startup and following stoic philosophy for business success.
Full body cryotherapy involves exposing your body to super cooled air (below -110 °C) for around 2-3 minutes to trigger physiological responses including enhanced brain function, immune function, sleep quality, metabolism, antioxidant activity, athletic performance and reduced inflammation.
Based in inner city Melbourne, Alchemy Cryotherapy Centre sees a wide range of people come through, from elite athletes and high achieving professionals seeking a boost performance through to sufferers of chronic illnesses looking to relieve symptoms and improve their general wellbeing.
“Those with autoimmune inflammatory condition; it’s a very effective and efficient way to reduce that inflammation in the body. So we see those coming through for preventative reasons as well as proactive reasons” explains Nitel.
A three-minute session in below -110 °C can mirror the cardiovascular results of a rigorous gym session.
“It’s putting your body under a good level of stress, called hormetic stress, where it’s short term, in a healthy dose, just to give you that really good benefit.”
Nitel is one of four co-founders, running Alchemy Cryotherapy Centre with her partner, sister and a close family friend. Although alternative therapies may seem a far cry from her previous life in finance, it was the stress of her former role that led to Nitel to seek out alternative health management therapies.
“I was a graduate working in one of the big four banks; just a lot of chronic stress that I wasn’t managing very well. We came across floatation therapy for that reason and started that business about four years ago. Only a year ago did we lead into cryotherapy because we actually used it so much ourselves.” she says.
“It was very exciting because it was something we really believed in and we saw a gap in the market. It was almost like a risk not to do it.”
Keeping costs low was key for the founders to get things off the ground, first with the flotation centres then Alchemy Cryotherapy Centre. From fitting out and staffing the facility themselves to learning marketing strategies via YouTube tutorials, they cut costs with DIY.
“Anything that we could learn ourselves we did. I don’t actually come from a marketing background, I have an honours in accounting but I look after the marketing side of our business.” says Nitel.
“We started with nothing, we scrounged our own savings and started the flotation centre with not very much at all. It’s being very, very careful, our cash management, our cash flow, just stretching us that much to get to the next phase along the way”.
Like any startup, they faced their fair share of challenges and frustrations, especially introducing a technology so new for the Aussie market.
“We expected cryotherapy to move a little bit faster in the early stages.” recalls Nitel.
“It does force you to reassess everything, go back to the drawing board, get creative and also step back and see the bigger picture as well.”
Drawing on the ancient principles of stoic philosophy helps Nitel see these kinds of business challenges as an opportunities to evolve rather than all out disasters.
“If you can change your perspective around the obstacle that you’re facing, you’ll see that it’s actually a good thing that it’s there. To be grateful that it’s there, because it will make you so much stronger once you get through it” she says.
Continually seeking to evolve her work, personal life and health, Nitel listens regularly to podcasts and lists Aubrey Marcus, Tony Robbins, Found My Fitness and The Tim Ferriss show as her top picks. She tracks her heart rate daily, does up to four cryotherapy sessions a week and sticks with Ketogenic type diet to complement the cryotherapy and minimise inflammation.
“There’s such a strong connection between what you’re eating and how you’re feeling, so things like brain fog or bloating, these are symptoms that we feel are very normal today but they don’t have to be” she says.
“In business, you are essentially like an athlete. Business professionals are athletes and like elite athletes; we need to invest in ourselves and look after our own health so we can achieve our goals”