AuOra's journey into Japan


Client name: AuOra, Wakatū Incorporation

Client industry: Health and wellness

Stage of the journey relevant: Pathfinder Journey - Discovery Workshop, initial research, go to market plan, market validation

Hallmarks of success:

  • Carry out deep market intelligence
  • Find the right market partners
  • Invest in strategically important markets to go deeper and wider
  • Focused market entry


Established in 2019 by Nelson-based Māori-owned organisation Wakatū Incorporation, AuOra is developing environmentally sustainable health and wellness solutions that solve metabolic, joint, digestive, brain and skin health challenges for global markets

AuOra co-designs their solutions directly with client companies and is able to source its high-quality raw materials through their food and beverage business, Kono NZ and working with local and national partners. AuOra undertakes a number of scientific and research and development programmes, as well as research into traditional Māori medicinal usage, to identify and understand, evaluate, and then build use cases for various raw materials that can be found in New Zealand.

The name Auora is a novel combination of two traditional Māori words: ‘ora’ meaning 'health' and 'vitality', and 'au', which has multiple relevant meanings, including ‘current’ and ‘wake’ relating to waka and movement.


AuOra had a very wide range of product solutions at various stages of its pipeline, many of these were still at an early stage of research and development with only a small number already on the market. AuOra general manager, Miriana Stephens approached Katabolt to help identify and build partnerships with suppliers internationally who could both sell their formulations to solve consumer health problems and branded products.  

The Katabolt journey

The Katabolt journey began with a bespoke Discovery Workshop that started with identifying the product pipeline of AuOra to gather an understanding of potential target applications and markets. The process included ranking by commercial readiness, availability and other commercially relevant factors such as the rights AuOra had under license agreements to market particular solutions.

“This process helped to identify that the priority was our dried kiwi fruit powder, which has clinical evidence showing digestive health benefits,” Miriana said.

As AuOra was only licensed to market and sell this particular product in Japan this was the focus. The task was then to build a trusted brand, identifying partners in-market, creating a framework to be able to assess opportunities quickly and a process for selecting formats to prioritise and take to market.

Katabolt’s expertise and in-market network identified opportunities and uncover insights that would help AuOra better understand the market. In particular, uncovering that in Japan for the markets that AuOra were looking at, door to door sales and mail order of nutraceutical products is still a big channel in Japan despite the geographical market being quite advanced and sophisticated.  

The final stage was to identify partners and develop a selection process which included an in-market trip. The aim of the in-market visit was for AuOra to meet companies in the food and beverage, and nutraceutical sector, to pursue supply agreements and negotiation. Katabolt worked through the in-market network of AuOra and Katabolt to identify and help set up introductory meetings between AuOra and potential customers and distribution partners in Japan. This helped AuOra to further analyse the market – segmentation, market sizing, value chain and competitor analysis.


During the research stage, Katabolt identified more than 50 potential partners across three parts of the value chain – importers, contract manufacturers and brand owners. This list was the filtered down through in-market meetings and following the in-market trip AuOra had 10 partner opportunities, customers who wanted to discuss or negotiate supply agreements.

Product prioritisation was achieved within a week, and the partner assessment and selection process was completed over five months. At this time, AuOra were in negotiation and discussion with potential customers and looking to conclude supply agreements.

Miriana Stephens, AuOra general manager says, “Without the support and work of Katabolt, it would have taken significant time and resources to identify which product to take to market or multiple attempts to enter the market successfully. Katabolt helped us to identify which opportunities to pursue and how to gain a better understanding of the market(s) we were entering.”

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Working with Katabolt is an exciting, exhilarating process with endless possibilities.

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