Founding Year: 2009
Office Locations: Via Ronciglione 8, Roma (Italy)
In our interview with Maria Francesca Aceti, CEO, Deltha Pharma, she speaks of her journey with Deltha Pharma and how the firm aims at solving the issue of vitamin and mineral inadequacies in our diet. Her story of the revival of Deltha Pharma is the epitome of how tough times can be overcome with perseverance and determination. Here’s an edited excerpt from our conversation.
How did you come up with the idea or concept for your business?
Deltha Pharma was founded in 2009 by doctors and pharmacists, who were interested in the supplement and nutraceutical field.
My father had invested in this developer and marketer of high-quality food supplements, but unfortunately, the company was near bankruptcy soon after its founding. When I learned that the company was struggling to survive and my father could lose his money, I decided to step into the leadership role to save it. The old CEO had given up, so I decided to try and save it to minimize my father’s loss.
What are your company offerings? How have consumer responses shaped them over the years?
When I started my business, I took multiple steps to ensure the company’s growth and success. I first made some important pivots in the product development process after thinking about what people wanted. I changed raw materials that were being used to make supplements, buying only the newest and the best available in the market, such as nanoparticles and vegetable stem cells. My aim was and still is to make only very high-quality new products and offer unique products to customers.
During these years, I have learned that consumers have become aware of the sources of ingredients and are much more interested in the natural ones. With this in mind, we have made our products using natural ingredients with vegetable and gastro-resistant capsules without titanium dioxide and heavy metals. The raw materials we select are certified by Italian companies and made from innovative technologies. In fact, our product based on Omega-3 is certified IFOS 5 stars – the most well-known certification which ensures transparency and quality.
Every business, big or small, gets its fair share of challenges, especially during the initial days. Tell us about your challenges and how you managed to overcome them.
When I became the CEO of Deltha Pharma, I was very young – a woman with no experience in the pharmaceutical field. The Company had huge debts, and to save it, I decided to make a debt restructuring to create new products and a new sales network. It was hard because nobody really thought I was going to make it. The first challenge I had to face was to make sales agents, customers, suppliers, employees, and all KOLs trust me. It was really hard though. However, I overcame it with hard work, consistency, keeping promises, and introducing certain crucial changes in the company’s business model. Therefore, I managed to raise the fortunes of the company within a year.
On what ideals are your work culture and business ethics based?
I think that a flourishing work culture influences all aspects of a business and the people within it. One of the crucial elements I consider is their work-life balance. The happiness of my employees matters to me, and I want our workplace to be a place that respects their lives as a whole. Hence, our offices close at 4.40 pm so that all my employees, including me, can spend time with our families.
Besides, in our headquarter, children are welcome to come along with their parents to work. That’s how I know all my employees’ children. Even my daughter loves to be at the office with me. So, I really feel like we are a big family and not just people who know each other only because of their work. We have also implemented a system of welfare which includes medical insurance as well.
Where do you see your company a few years from now?
Over the last few years, many things have changed. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, there is a lot of interest in staying healthy, and the greatest challenge is not to extend life but to expand it. All over the world, there is still an inadequate intake of vitamins and minerals in the diet: only 1 in 10 adults consumes the amount of fruit and vegetables recommended by the guidelines, and it is scientifically proven that supplementing our diet could prevent many diseases. So, I would really like to spread the message that a quality supplement can help you improve your health and life.
Now the macro areas of my interest are digitization, eco-sustainability, and export area. I have just decided to apply for an ESG rating, in fact, we are committed to achieving fully sustainable management. This path is based on maximum commitment and total transparency in order to implement an environmental sustainability strategy that encompasses every aspect of the company’s operations. Then I have been actively working for several months on the digitization of all company departments, from the warehouse and logistics operation to the administration; from the management of the sales network to the marketing campaigns, by interfacing with different ERPs, CRM, and software of marketing automation with each other and with government database using blockchain technology. Over the coming months, I have planned of putting a new product in the market of our liver line, the “Epatoril Pro” and in the next year a new line of products in form of gummies for women and children, which is called as my daughter “Penelope”.
How has your journey been so far?
When I took the helm of Deltha Pharma, the Company had huge debts, we got evicted from our offices. However, I never lost heart: I had to take immediate measures to improve how to manage the cash flow. I had to cut unnecessary costs by working around the clock on financial statements and negotiating credits from suppliers as far as I could without it damaging our relationships.
Every decision wore me out, but I never thought I wouldn’t make it. With time, the suppliers began to trust me, however, the turnover wasn’t high enough, maybe it was too much for a young girl with so much theory in her head and little practice on her shoulders. My clear vision and mission helped me to go through this journey and the results didn’t wait to come. During these 11 years that I have been leading the company, I made “quality, safety, and efficacy” my motto; I have a young and dynamic team, made up of various figures, engaged in the continuous search for new raw materials and in the development of natural products that guarantee the highest levels of quality, safety, and efficacy, in compliance with firm ethical and moral principles and therefore they are really useful for the well-being of the users.
In 2019 I started a cooperation with one of the most important universities in Italy: Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Together we formulated a very special probiotic, on which we made some clinical trials at the Policlinico A. Gemelli of Rome this product has been patented by the university itself and we have an exclusive marketing license for the whole world.
One of the best fields I decided to focus our development on was digital marketing and the digitalization of the company. I decided to onboard the most important e-commerce platforms in the world, both b2b and b2C, and we became one the best dealers on Amazon and Alibaba.com. In fact, in 2022 Alibaba.com chose me and my company as a case history of success to tell, and I was one of the speakers at the SMEs day 2022 of the International Trade Centre.
I strongly believe that the world has become smaller, so I focus my attention on not manufacturing countries and directed many digital campaigns to look out for international partners. Since 2018, I have added an export area to the company, and in 2021, a distribution agreement was signed with a major Chinese distributor, who is selling our products on Tmall Global. This helped us even to face the pandemic Covid-19, in fact, we were resilient and reactive: we imported masks and placed them into the market along with food supplements based on vitamins D and C. Our revenue grew by 30% in 2020.
Eventually, in the last year, I could buy a new building, that after a long work of restructuration became our new headquarter, when I first cross the door I had tears in my eyes, this is amazing: it is an open space, modern and green, made of glass and resin where you can really enjoy spending your working day.
Now the company has a strong vocation towards digitization and eco-sustainability, there are 15 products in the list, some market leaders in the reference sector. We are present throughout the national territory, serving more than a thousand pharmaceutical wholesalers, cooperatives, and pharmacies and distributing products in 16 countries all around the world. We are also associated with AICE for foreign trade and the internationalization of companies. The company also works to the highest standards of quality and hygiene: in 2022, we got ISO 9001 certifications for quality and ISO 14001 for environmental sustainability.
What’s more? In September 2022, we have been listed in the Italian “Campioni di crescita” for revenue growth.
Meet The Influential Leader
Maria Francesca Aceti, CEO, Deltha Pharma
A word from Maria: I graduated in chemical engineering and when I took charge of Deltha Pharma, I was 27 years old working at ENEA, a very important research center for energy in Italy, specifically on a project related to the production of electric energy by gasification of coal. But, once I made up my mind, no one was stopping me from taking over Deltha Pharma.