McKendrick is shaking up breakfast with a healthy vegan product line.
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Ella McKendrick, founder of Nutribuddy, explains why the healthy breakfast shake market was ripe for renewal, why outsourcing manufacture and delivery was a big mistake and why boxes make her angry.
What is the business in a nutshell?
At Nutribuddy we manufacture and sell vegan shakes made from natural, wholefood ingredients. We pride ourselves in using only the highest-quality ingredients and try our best to have minimal impact on the environment.
Why did you decide to start the business?
Finding time for breakfast is an issue I was familiar with. I’d grab whatever I could to eat whilst on-the-go which would often be something terribly unhealthy like a chocolate-chip-cookie.
None of the shakes on the market appealed to me as they were filled with so many artificial ingredients and unhealthy sweeteners. Cookies were a better option, I decided!
I thought that it was silly that I had to put up with this and started brain-storming ideas for healthy, natural shakes. One thing led to another and Nutribuddy was born!
How did the business develop?
The business has changed a lot over the years. I went into the business with minimal business experience so made some mistakes to begin with. I outsourced the manufacturing and shipping parts of the business which turned out to be a bad idea.
I had little control over the formula so I lost my way with producing the natural, wholefood products I’d dreamed of. The outsourced shipping was just as bad as the shipping company made so many mistakes that customers were unhappy.
I decided enough was enough and that I’d have to take both aspects in-house which was hard when you consider it was just me and my partner working on it.
Ultimately, it was the right thing to do as we came up with our best-selling Breakfast shake formula, phased out the old products which I wasn’t happy with and shipped out all products in a timely manner, making for very happy customers.
From there we have continued to adapt as we learn more and listen to our customers’ suggestions.
Can you explain a little about current market conditions in your industry?
The shake market has always been very busy and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. I’m constantly being presented with Facebook adverts for shake companies that I’ve never heard of. I see several a day!
What has been your biggest challenge since starting the business?
Perhaps the most challenging part was when the business was run from my home. We’d pack up all the products and ship them out from an upstairs bedroom.
Practically all other rooms in the house were filled with products in storage and I had to move to the smallest bedroom in the house to make room for it.
We were also getting pallet deliveries which were incredibly hard to bring up my drive as it’s very steep.
There was no getting a break from the business at this point. I couldn’t even sit down in the living room as it was covered with boxes!
What major bumps in the road have you had and how have you overcome them?
Finding the right staff has probably been the bumpiest ride. It can be very challenging to find the right people who love and flourish in the role. You only have a job interview and practical assessment to choose people off. It’s so easy to make the wrong decision.
It’s been a huge learning curve for me and I’ve constantly been changing the hiring process. Finally I think I have overcome the hurdle by simply having more and more experience. Maybe some people have a talent for hiring people but I certainly didn’t and it was only something I could learn with time and experience.
Now Nutribuddy has a fantastic team of dedicated and talented individuals.
What was your biggest mistake?
It’s hard to say exactly. I could say that outsourcing the manufacturing and shipping was a mistake but it did give me time to work on other aspects of the business, like marketing.
It’s possible that the marketing could never have taken off had I spent the early days making and shipping orders. Therefore it wasn’t really a mistake.
Likewise, when I made a bad hire, I’d learn a lot from that which ultimately helped me to find a better person next time.
How do you aim to attract and retain good people?
As mentioned earlier, finding the right staff was a challenge but I believe Nutribuddy comes across as a fun brand to work for and that is really helping us find the best people who are passionate about the products we sell.
In order to retain good staff members, I believe it’s always very important to listen to any questions or concerns they have. It’s also important to provide them with good training and let them know that as a manager, you are there to support them.
What is your best advice to would-be entrepreneurs?
Business is challenging so you have to have patience and persistence. I always believe if you work hard at something, it’s almost impossible to fail. So don’t be disappointed if something doesn’t go to plan as it’s just part of the journey.