David Towse is the founder of Get Nourished, a high protein and lactose free iced coffee brand. The Enterprise Nation member, who joined through a partnership with Reigate and Banstead Council, has already secured listings in Muscle Foods and Holland & Barrett. He tells his story below. 

As you can read below, David is excited about attending The Wellness Exchange in London on 23 March. We'd love to see you there too. It's jam-packed with advice from experts and entrepreneurs in the wellness sector, plus Enterprise Nation members have the chance to pitch buyers from Planet Organic and John Lewis live on stage! Book your ticket here.

Describe your business in one sentence.

A food and drink cornucopia of high protein deliciousness always free from lactose, gluten and artificial stuff.

How did you come up with your idea and turn it into an actual business?

In 2014 I was diagnosed as gluten and lactose intolerant which was great because I'd finally worked out why I was getting crippling stomach cramps after playing sport, terrible bloating, wind and indigestion after most meals and crushing tiredness in the afternoon at my desk.

However, overnight it reduced my food options down by around 70%. Add in my preference for a high protein diet and the options were virtually non-existent.

So in 2016, I decided to take both of these frustrations out into the world and see if I was the only one who had them and, interestingly enough, I wasn't. In fact, there were lots of people like me that were having to compromise with their food choices, and frankly, they didn't want to.

I decided to start making my own in 2017. I gave the first samples to my wife, my sister and her husband who politely managed to only be sick in their mouths and not on my face and so started the journey to creating high protein deliciousness free from lactose, gluten and artificial stuff.

I spent 2017 refining the recipes and trying to find a manufacturer prepared to take a punt on a little food start-up whilst securing retail listings with Muscle Food and Holland & Barrett.

In January this year, I launched the first range of Get Nourished products, our delicious iced coffees. We hope you love them.

What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? 

Finding a manufacturer that would take me seriously and work with small MOQs to get it all launched.

In the end, I had to work with a Belgian company as the UK ones either weren't interested or weren't able to manufacture the product in the way I wanted.

Cash flow. Standard one I'm sure. Staying afloat while you invest everything you've got in getting to market. And separating out my personal finances from my business ones. And tax. Godforsaken tax.

What has been your biggest achievement with your business so far?

Finding a manufacturer.

Basing the flavours on detailed consumer research on tastes.

Achieving the retail listings with Holland & Barrett and Muscle Foods.

Staying resilient in the face of ridiculous ups and downs!

What is your next big business goal?

More nationwide listings particularly grocers and health and beauty retailers. I'm hoping Enterprise Nation will be able to help! :-)

Ensure rate of sale is strong and repeat purchase is good.

What do you think will be your biggest challenge getting there? 

Getting retailers to take a punt on a small business regardless of how good the insight and gap in the market is. They are naturally risk adverse and want somebody else to take the risk first.

How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?

Very early days, but I'm excited about the upcoming events, particularly The Wellness Exchange.

Which other entrepreneur inspires you and why?

Jo and Stuart Chidley from Beauty Kitchen. They show that relentless hard work and measured risk-taking can create amazing fast growing businesses.

What are your three tips for business success based on your experiences so far?

  1. Do you consumer research and keep doing it, until you've removed as much launch risk as possible.
  2. Get an accountant especially if you're doing consultancy work to pay the bills while you get things up and running.
  3. Do it. Reading books about how other people made it and how they were successful is, in my view, utterly pointless. Do stuff, make mistakes and learn on the job. Otherwise, you'll never get started.

Anything else you would like to share? 

When I first presented to Holland & Barrett, one of the coffees I brought with me wasn't heat treated properly.

Mid-meeting, the head of category came into the meeting (a pleasant surprise) with the express intention of trying the product.

Before I had a chance to suggest he tried one of the other ones, he cracked the unstable one open, pursed his lips around the bottle and tipped it up to his mouth.

One lump after another hit him in the mouth and he ran out of the meeting room to either be sick or wash his mouth out, or both.

I did well to get the listing after that!

The Wellness Exchange on 23 March is jam-packed with advice from experts and entrepreneurs in the wellness sector, plus Enterprise Nation members have the chance to pitch buyers from Planet Organic and John Lewis live on stage! Book your ticket here.

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