Excitingly, Whey Box launched just over 1 year ago and so we thought we’d give you a little insight into how it all came about…
It has been a pretty hectic year in which we’ve successfully launched online, established the brand, secured a listing with Holland & Barrett and then brought an investor on board to help us grow the business.
The idea started to come together in August 2015. The four of us were in Miami sitting around the pool discussing various ideas for a ‘supplement’ company. Between us, we have all used protein powder and various other products for years (Jack & Sam are ex-professional rugby players, Will is an ex-Royal Marine Captain and I’ve also played rugby to a reasonably high level).
We kept returning to the same issue; most brands are masculine, angry and seem to promote that you’ll put on lots of muscle. We know this simply isn’t true and we certainly felt there should be a brand aimed more specifically (although not exclusively) at women.
What we do know is the importance of getting sufficient protein into your diet, but also know that this isn’t easy if you train a lot, travel a lot or are simply quite a busy person! So, convenience quickly became our number one priority and the foundation of the message we wanted to convey.
If there’s one thing that big tubs aren’t, it’s convenient. Not only this but shortly after identifying convenience as a primary theme we all agreed that having to buy a big tub of something that you inevitably don’t like the taste of (or get bored of) was a concern, and there went the second lightbulb moment! Variety became our next focus.
Luckily Jack, Sam and Will (who are brothers) own a gym in Hull and had been ‘white-labelling’ supplements to retail to their members and so we already knew of a manufacturer that covered our third and final priority: taste. The product absolutely had to taste great. Whilst we know this is extremely subjective, we have all used enough brands over the years to reach a fairly unanimous decision.
After we got back from Miami and after a few more brainstorming sessions by the pool using gin to fuel our creativity (we were in bed by 8pm one night), we started recipe-tweaking.
Bringing the concept together wasn’t easy, but we had always liked the idea of a subscription model. We really admire what Graze have done for snacking and we believed that the protein powder industry was ready for something a little more innovative in line with this. Happy with the flavours and having settled on 10, we were now fixed on the idea of a box with 10 sachets and launching it as a subscription service.
To ensure we maintained the convenience element, we had meeting after meeting with our co-packer looking at various prototypes that would allow us to fit 10 sachets in a box and still ensure that the product would fit through most letterboxes.
The product started out quite different to the finished article and at one point we nearly abandoned hope of it fitting through a letterbox, but we just about got there! It took about 8 months in total to agree on a final product and by April 2016 we had our sights set on going live in June.
With the product now being manufactured, we began working on the website and planning our marketing activity.
We were completely on track to launch in June and then the sachets arrived! Not quite what we expected…! The printer had made an error and so of the 20,000 sachets that turned up, about 60% did not look great. The colour was really faded and it didn’t scream fun and vibrant, which is what we had in mind.
To say this was frustrating would be a slight understatement as the cost to re-do everything (essentially any marketing budget we had left) now had to be spent on manufacturing every single sachet again. At one point, we genuinely had to consider whether we were going to be able to launch as the business was funded entirely by the four of us.
Perseverance is definitely the name of the game when setting up your own business and I’m glad we did. Eventually launching in late September, Jack and I went to London to sample shakes at a Fitssi event (now Vlique) at the Lorna Jane shop in Covent Garden. Ironically this was the day before Will’s wedding and so we got the train back up late after we’d finished and started packing the first boxes that had been ordered the morning of the wedding!
It was a great couple of days and as an experience, a very fun way to launch the brand.
The First Year
I’m pleased to say that the first 12 months of business have been good and we’ve defeated the first major hurdle (statistics say 90% of start-ups fail in the first year of trading!!). This is down to all the fantastic customers that have supported us, and so we’re both humbled and grateful for how many people have purchased our products and given us some amazing feedback along the way.
Not only have we established a strong online presence, but all 10 flavours will be launching in Holland & Barrett stores in October and there are other retail launches on the horizon. So as we head into our second year of the Whey Box story, we’re even more ambitious and excited than ever!
If you’re reading this and you have any questions or feedback we always want to hear from you, so please drop us an email! You can reach all four of us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading,