As a kid I had no interest in fitness or sport and was more often than not bunking games and PE and eating giant cookies, which resulted in me being both over-weight and bullied. Later when I went to university, I was living with some seriously fit guys who pointed out my lack of physical prowess, so I started hitting the gym and fell in love with it. I began eating well and creating my own protein shakes etc. inspired by the Rocky films I blended raw eggs with Holrlicks, peanut butter and milk. I am inspired by those who overcome adversity and the odds to make it happen, in fact many of our current ambassadors have overcome adversity and inspire me, in particular Ryan Raghoo, who was told by doctors he would never walk as a result of having cerebral palsy, but now competes for Team GB in the long jump! My current interests other than spending time with my family (, dogs and friends is taking part in obstacle races, going to the gym, practising TaiChi and reading.
My entrepreneurial career was inspired from a young age by working in my dad’s shop at the weekends, pricing up items and when a bit older being able to use the till to ring up orders, this gave me an understating as to how much effort and enjoyment goes in to making a business. When I was around 9 or 10 my sister and I started to have a stall outside our house, selling old toys and games to passers-by and neighbours. In my teens frustrated at being bullied and not being able to go to clubs, I started an under 16’s nightclub night called “Hardcore Enterprises” where I hired out venues and sold tickets at schools around London.
Immediately after leaving my job in the City back in’96 I started a business called “Room Share” whereby I advertised in Loot for landlords with empty rooms and those seeking rooms and matched them (based on their specific requirement), as I was running it via a rolodex it became a bit un-wieldy and time consuming so I closed that down.
I decided I wanted to do something with my new found passion for fitness. Back in the 90’s there was not as much information about training and far fewer personal trainers, so I thought wouldn’t it be great to launch a service whereby people could call up a premium rate number, leave their details and goals and then we would create personalised training programmes which would be mailed out. Sadly, here again the logistics where a nightmare as we were a small team and had to individually write each program, so “on-line fitness” went into room 101.
I did however discover during this process that there was new trend in the US for a product called a swiss ball, I found a manufacturer in Taiwan and developed one with an instructional video too and launched in John Lewis, where we were selling around 1000 pcm, then Reebok jumped on the bandwagon and that was the end of the burgeoning fitness equipment empire!
Way back in 1996 I was however training hard with the goal of appearing on the TV show Gladiators, as a contender. Having been making my own protein shakes with raw eggs etc a friend recommended that I try a protein powder instead. After a few months I found no benefit from this particular brand, and having met the owner who was very rude, decided to qualify as a nutritionist and sports coach/PT and to create my own range of science based supplements that would appeal to fitness enthusiasts and pro-athletes as opposed to bodybuilders. Hence the name, bio-synergy which means “working with life”. The thing that still drives me now is getting letters and emails from customers who feel that our products have helped them achieve their fitness/sporting goals and from knowing that something I created others are excited to buy.
Since 1997 our goal was to innovate, not imitate and we were probably the first sports nutrition brand to forego targeting body builders and to focus on those undertaking recreational sports/fitness and professional sport. As per the meaning of our brand name, our mission was to create products that would enable people to achieve their goals and provide science backed products that they could rely on and adapt to their changing needs. We were the first brand to go mass market with distribution in Selfridges (1998), Tesco (2002), Lillywhites etc and to have world renowned brand ambassadors who to this day are not paid or given free products, they buy them. To us it’s all about authenticity and credibility. Since the beginning we have also given back with numerous charity partners including Cancer Research, UNICEF, Centre Point and Sports Aid among others and have had vegan products and used packaging that is either recyclable or up cyclable.
In all likelihood, we were also the first sports nutrition brand to undergo 3rd party tests and created many products such as protein bars, protein drinks and zero sugar drinks which are now industry norms.
Bio-Synergy is unique in that 25 years on, we are still authentic and un-like many other brands did not see this as trend to make money, but as an opportunity to raise the bar and create products that could support people throughout their lives and fitness journey.
Our commitment to innovation has also been un-wavering whether that be the product that we offer or the routes to market and our approach to brand ambassadors. As education is central to our mission to ensure that people have the right product (even if it means none at all), since 1998 we have published a magazine TotalNRG which is packed with advice, reviews, recipes, guidance, inspiring stories, research and much more with recent contributors including Bear Grylls.
HOW IT BEGAN..
I started the business from my parents loft, using the dining room as the packing room and the garage as the warehouse and we launched our first transactional website in 1998 which amazingly pre-dated Google and relied on dial up for connectivity! I would spend my days driving around with stock in the back of my Escort 1.4L with a yellow pages and A to Z hunting down and visiting potential customers, whether that be stores, gyms or sports clubs.
I would then return home to check if there had been any orders faxed through or if any were left on the voicemail, if so I would get them packed and drop them at the local post office (I still have the original post book and quite a few of those original customers are still buying today). I would then spend time cold calling potential customers and undertaking research. The first watershed was getting an order from Arsenal in ’98 which led to us being the official sports nutrition brand of most of the Premiership, F1 teams and official partners to Premier Rugby, Rugby Football League, Rugby Super League, Ice Hockey Super League, ECB and British Basketball League as well as having ambassadors including David Coulthard, Mark Foster and Will Greenwood.
As a result of the reputation that we built in sport, we became the Official supplier to the Home Nations at the Commonwealth Games in 2002, who we developed the first ever sports drink with a sports cap “Liquid Energy “ that was also free from artificial ingredients and won best sports drink by Men’s Heath. Following on from this we launched into 400 Tesco stores which transformed the business. Fast forwarding 23 years we now have a #gymshoffice, nearly 100 products and over 300 (un-paid) brand ambassadors ranging from mums that lift to James Cracknell and Scottish Hockey, as well as international footballers and racing drivers.
Over the last few years we have also expanded beyond the UK to Europe, US, Vietnam, China, Denmark and the Falkland Islands. We have also just developed probably the world’s first contactless vending machine that dispenses a fresh protein shake which will be launching in gyms and high street stores later this year.
As part of mission we have always wanted to offer a holistic service as we understand that supplements, however great, are only part of the story when it comes to achieving a healthy lifestyle or Olympic performance. To this end we have been working hard developing a DNA testing service that will give scientific evidence to help customers understand which if any of our supplements they need and have then coupled this with a food delivery service, whereby meals can be personalised to meet individual needs.
I strongly believe that this will enhance our offering and keep us at the forefront of the sports nutrition category.
WHAT SETS BIO-SYNERGY APART
Time is the single most important asset that we all have, so we wanted to create products that would enable fitness lovers to achieve their goals quicker and therefore have more time to spend doing the other things that they love, such as spending time with friends & family. Whilst as an athlete success is judged by winning, and our products alongside training and a good diet provide the marginal gains to increase the chance of success. Since ’97 our goal has always been to innovate whether that be our products, how we support the community or the wider world around us.
Although not the biggest brand we have consistently beaten the competition to win awards voted for by the public and remained true to our mission of being authentic.
ALL ABOUT THE TEAM
Over the last 25 years I have been privileged to have many great colleagues, none more so than Natalia who has been on the journey with me for over 15 years and who I have seen go from being a reluctant runner initially inspired by the work we were doing with Cancer Research at the London Marathon to have now completed the Marathon des Sables and several other extreme races, thus personifying the brands spirit of making it happen.
Additionally, for over a decade Pete Croft and has kept all our servers an email running and Russell Knight has met every request that I have made up of him regarding graphic design and much more besides.
However, without my parents who supported me when I quit my job to pursue my dream and our amazing customers, I would definitely have not kept going for over two decades.