Joe talks to us about his experiences as a co-founder of Motion Nutrition and gives some great advice to those just starting out.
Can you introduce your start-up? What is it, and how did it come about?
At Motion Nutrition, we improve people’s emotional, mental and physical strength. We offer organic supplements for brain and body, packed in sustainable plastic-free materials. We have a carefully curated and scientifically developed a range of protein powders, nootropic supplements and workout boosters.
We created Motion Nutrition to offer nutrition solutions for modern lifestyles. Products which make sense in today’s busy schedules, that benefit your mental and physical performance, and in which you can place your full, unequivocal trust.
Where are you in your startup journey?
We launched the brand 3 years ago – so in one sense, we’ve come a long way. In another, we are just at the beginning: we’ve just changed our entire packaging format to improve our sustainability and the convenience of our products, and we’ve completely revamped our visual identity. We achieved this after a successful fundraising campaign 12 months ago. Our work over the past year has brought us to a place where we can now take the brand from a London-focused startup to a nationwide force.
To date, what has been the biggest triumph for your business?
In April last year, we launched our range of nootropic supplements. These products help people deal with their mental load during the day and help them switch off and get good rest at night. They deal with real-life problems we all face and provide tangible improvements to our wellbeing. The products represent a small part of our range but have been so well received that they are now available in over 200 outlets and represent 50% of our revenues.
How have you found being a sole founder? And what advice you would give to other sole founders?
I do have a co-founder, Charlie, and would find it hard to run the business without him. If like me, you’re the kind of person who needs to bounce ideas back and forth with others, this is unlikely to ever change. So to me, it is crucial to have a partner.
Having a co-founder also means you need to be crystal clear with each other what the goals are, and who owns which responsibilities in order to achieve them. This will lead to difficult conversations, but this is an essential step to a successful relationship. Without clear communication, you will repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
How do you manage to balance growing a start-up with having a personal life?
I’m not sure how I would manage without my wife. She is my anchor who brings me back to real life and helps me take off my work hat and enjoy some downtime.
Taking time off can feel like “cheating” on your business, or not being efficient enough. In reality, you need time off to be able to recharge and come back with a fresh mind and high energy. Whatever or whoever your anchor is, find a way to make sure you’re resting your mind.
How do you cope with the pressures that come with building a business?
I’ve been used to high-pressure environments for a long time through my previous career as a professional swimmer, but this doesn’t make it any easier. I take a holistic view of my life and make sure I have enough fuel on one hand – great nutrition, enough sleep – and enough balance on another – working out regularly, meditating every morning. Every element is essential.
Did you pursue investment? If so what advice would you give on pitching? What was your secret weapon?
We raised £600k 12 months ago after about a year of research and pitches. My advice is this: remember that you need investors as much as investors need startups. Make sure the fit is right. Different investors will have different plans, and some plans may not fit your strategy or mindset. Generally, it is quite easy to spot the ones who don’t feel right – but be attentive and make sure you are listening as much as speaking.
There is no secret weapon. Build and present your plan, be a good person and remember that you are dealing with fellow humans: build relationships, be human.
If you could name one thing that you wish you knew when you started, what would it be?
Nobody will give you attention. You need to create something worthy of attention. Then say it. Say it loud and say it again.
To date, what has been your most important lesson?
Early last year, we started experimenting with a new brand identity that wasn’t quite right for us. It never took off but we spent quite a lot of time and resources experimenting with it. This was a mistake.
Later, the experience allowed us to build a stronger communication structure to avoid a repeat. People communicate in different ways and it’s important to both allow people to share their views in their own way and to be able to truly listen to each person.
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone thinking about starting up their own business, or who have just started their journey?
Speak to people. Speak to everyone you can. Talk about your product, and look at people’s reactions. Hear them out, take time to listen, even (especially) if they’re saying things you’d rather not hear. Whatever you do, don’t make your product “secret” so you can reveal it when you think it’s perfect. It will never be perfect so this is a recipe for disaster. Early feedback allows you to build a stronger product before investing too much time or money.
What has been the most challenging part of your start-up journey so far?
For ages, I obsessed over the idea of merging convenience with sustainability: single serve packaging you can easily take with you without the packs ending up in landfills. It took a long time, but eventually, we created a solution by bringing together different technologies in a way that had not been done before in our industry. By merging sustainable, compostable materials with our manufacturing capabilities, we created something really new and innovative. It was challenging, but now the product is live and this is super rewarding.
What’s next for your business?
We’re turning Motion into a household name. We want to improve the lives of millions of people across the country by helping them raise their emotional, mental and physical strengths through excellent nutrition and supplementation. Watch us do it.
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