To answer that I've gotta take you WAY back.
December 31st 2014 I left my job, determined to pursue something I found fulfilling. It was my own quarter-life crisis.
I tried my hand at web design; it went well & I gained clients. I got bored real fast. I’d found myself another job & missed the point of finding fulfilment.
But you know what? I’d been hand making protein bars out of my mother’s kitchen for months & friends were taking notice. I figured ah, what the heck, now or never to go all in? So I did.
At 200 bars a day, I ran out of space & quickly ran out of experience & the know- how to expand. Contract manufacturers refused flat out to use my ingredients & demanded I sign a contract to produce 100,000 bars on the first order. I needed £100,000+ just to produce the bars. That was assuming they came out as promised & before any other expenses came into play.
Drawing board. I shut down production & pondered. A lot.
If I couldn’t make the food company I wanted on day one, I would have to reverse it. Build the platform, build the audience & work backwards to a day when I had credibility, more experience & loyal customers willing to try my crazy experiments.
Posted Protein was a name I picked in August 2015. It took me less than 5 minutes. The name didn’t matter - I’d build the brand & the name would grow into it.
I launched the site & began selling Quest Bars on October 8th 2015. Just Questies (I was a #QuestAddict). And I learned a shed load about ecommerce, retail, shipping & a whole lot more.
On day one PP did £60 via a single Instagram post. The offer for free shipping wiped out any & all profits, but I had validation & proof of concept.
Scale came next. January 2016 I began introducing new brands to the site.
The site became insanely complex. I rebuilt & went again.
Systems crashed. Fraudsters stole £1,000s of pounds from me/PP. Our payment gateway was closed on us & I couldn’t take orders. Customer service became overwhelming. Shipping costs went up. Hot weather led to destroyed product. Looking back, that would have been a real easy time to give up.
Our team of 1 (me) was burning out but I had a vision that was bigger than me & bigger than profits.
I couldn’t afford to hire anyone or even pay myself. Everything went back into the technology & the stock. I didn’t have any financial backing. Every time somebody purchased a product I’d go out & buy more. Increase stock. Increase speed of dispatch. Increase customer satisfaction & aim for repeat custom over the long term.
I was determined to build the food platform; where it was easy to find great products to fit your dietary requirements & your lifestyle. Whoever you were. It had to be simple, be intuitive & cater to you - not to the brand willing to pay the most.
It had to be customer centric.
So I went again.
I found new shipping methods, rebuilt the site, found a new gateway, shook off the fraudsters & started again.
PP grew. I rebuilt. PP struggled. I rebuilt.
Around October last year (2017), my girlfriend Laura suggested taking a sabbatical from work to come & help me out for 3 months. All cards on the table, I jumped at the chance!
On December 23rd 2017 I took my first pay cheque after more than 2 years.
Laura’s input into the business meant I finally had a chance to fix the holes in the bucket where PP was bleeding financially & dropping the ball on our customers. I promised exceptional customer service; the entire site was built around the customer & I refused to let it be otherwise.
I got the chance to get my head above water after Laura joined. But not for long. As PP continued to grow (a great problem!) systems weren’t scaling. Huge investment of time & cash was needed again.
I hired Laura full time in February & went to work with an ecommerce agency in Canada that could help us solve a lot of our issues (or at least, I hoped!).
With a ton of trial & error, many delays, many versions later we got the backend of the site running effectively.
And to this day, I can’t comprehend it... the guys in Canada did it all for $20 & a long-term belief & relationship with us. (PS. I freaking love you guys)
What the heck does all this mean, Tom?
It meant I could finally open up the platform to more customers. For months I’ve “turned off” our marketing efforts simply because PP couldn’t grow any further without collapsing. We had to figure out how to scale. Of course, there will always be growing pains but we’re so much further forward than we’ve ever been!
To say we’re in the green zone would be a lie. Just this week we’ve experienced enormous shipping issues with our preferred partner, mostly around next day & international shipments.
Late nights found a temporary but expensive solution. Next Tuesday we’ve got a meeting with a new firm that might be able to help us out longer term & help us figure out international shipping while reducing the risk of this happening again.🤞
We (myself & Laura) do this all around keeping the wheels spinning; picking & packing orders, negotiating deals with suppliers to ensure we’re bringing you guys the best products at the right price, handling purchase orders, fixing site issues & tech errors as they appear, handling customer support, bringing deliveries into our little warehouse, building out shelving racks as we grow, handling those pesky lost shipments that happen from time to time, running to the post office & various depots, arranging collections, seeking payment terms & looking for our next employee (I’m looking at you, Mike 😉). I’ve definitely missed a few tasks... 😅
I love it. It’s my oxygen. Whether we’ve ever spoken or not, if you’ve ever placed an order on postedprotein.co.uk I’ve personally handled your order & I can’t tell you how grateful I am.
It’s still day one & we’ve an enormous journey still in front of us until we become that food platform I still envision, but we’re going ever faster & ever stronger.
To you reading this & sticking by us - thank you. To me & Laura it means the world that you back us with every order & every recommendation to a friend.
I promise to post more & keep you better updated, but the great news is this is a huge turning point for us!
To many more years supporting you all! 🍻
Talk soon 🙌💪
Barebells, the Swedish manufacturer of some of the greatest protein bars & milkshakes we've ever tried, is at it again!