Founders: Charlie Turner and Lee Forster
Society: Careful nutrition
Proposal: Neat Nutrition is a premium protein and supplement brand and small business in London founded by two friends Charlie Turner (32) and Lee Forster (33). Less than a year after its launch, Neat has an exclusive range with Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter, and has just opened its first cafÃ© on Regent Street.
Describe your business model:
Our business model is primarily an e-commerce retail platform, selling products on our own website and on Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter. We knew we wanted to avoid stocking Neat in large âbrick and mortarâ retailers and position our products alongside generic mainstream brands. Instead, we’ve chosen to work with high-end fitness studios like Third Space and Core Collective that offer healthy foods and Neat Nutrition protein smoothies.
We also recently launched our own Neat Nutrition coffee in the Lululemon store on Regent Street. This will become another arm for the company and give us a great opportunity to have a physical location and expand the way we offer our products.
How is your business different from what already exists?
Neat challenges the traditional and overly complex market with lots of jargon and buzzwords, and the association of the term âhealthy foodâ with athletes and bodybuilders. Our main goals are to show provenance, remove ambiguities, embrace simplicity and help educate consumers.
The culmination of all of this has been to create a good source product that is cleanly produced and tastes good. We want to help customers achieve whatever goals they may be, whether it’s increasing their vitality, losing weight or competing in the Olympics.
How did you finance your business?
This whole process was an interesting adventure, a self-financing to get the business off the ground. We have certainly started it all the way! Seriously, we both worked really hard, from retiring from swimming to starting the business.
What is the most important thing to follow in business and why?
There are many obvious metrics people focus on when it comes to accounting and finance, all of which are valid and important. However, we firmly believe that people are the greatest asset of a business and as such it is vital to keep up with their career development and happiness.
If we hadn’t had the Neat âfamilyâ around us, none of what we accomplished would have been possible. Everyone has an important job to do and enjoying that job and being engaged is vital.
What is the biggest challenge you face on a daily basis?
The unknown. We are fortunate to never know what an opportunity presents itself and being flexible and being able to act quickly is a huge asset that allows us to truly enjoy this challenge.
Do you think it is important for small businesses to export advice?
Our background in both professional sport and business has given us an incredible ability to travel throughout our career, allowing you to see the opportunity that exporting presents for any business. As we are an e-commerce focused company, it opens up global markets much easier than many traditional businesses.
It also allows you to refine your proposition for many different types of consumers. Although we see huge opportunities in exporting, our goal has always been to really take root in our local communities first; doing this correctly gives you a much better platform when looking to export.
What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?
It’s hard ! We use Shopify as our web platform, so this has to be number one. However, across our teams, we use Asana to track all projects, work assignments, and deadlines, which is the best optimization tool we have and it’s free. It comes highly recommended!
Describe the culture of your company in three words:
Varied. Including. Hard.
What would you like the government to do for small businesses?
Better broadband – many entrepreneurs simply cannot survive if their internet connection is poor or continuously interrupted. That, and answers on how Brexit will affect small businesses, and what support will be made available to businesses doing business in the EU once Section 50 is triggered.
Small business owners would also like to get rid of unnecessary regulations and paperwork – it costs time and money and prevents them from employing people and investing.
Who is your biggest small and medium business hero?
We always looked where we want to being, which probably led us to seek to emulate people who would sit more in what would be classified as a large corporation. For example, Lee has always admired companies and people with an unrelenting desire for quality – Harry’s, Everlane, Apple, Virgin to name a few.
Where do you want the business to be in three years?
We would like to be the go-to brand for good quality protein powders and supplements, with the knowledge and support for anyone interested in health and wellness, whatever their goals. If we stick to the principles we know and love, then we have no limit to the potential expansion in terms of markets around the world – and the launch on Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter has already opened up to us from Hong Kong to Italy and Russia to Canada.
We hope the next three years will be full of surprises – if you told us on the first trading day that we would be opening a store on Regent Street in 20 months, we wouldn’t believe it!
What’s your best tip for keeping it light and making a profit?
There are plenty of options to take the easy way out rather than looking for the best alternative. Often times the best option is the hardest, but if you want to stay lean you should find solutions to how things can be done, rather than worrying about how difficult it is to do them.
We pride ourselves on always being willing to work harder, dig deeper, and dig deeper than anyone and that has served us well. No one else will do it for you when you start a business, so it all depends on how far you are willing to go.