MARRIED couple Alan and Juliet set up their business, Grenade, in 2006 when they
spotted a gap in the market for nutritional products that tasted good.
They launched their first product in 2009 – a weight loss capsule – and now, less
than a decade later, the company has over 50 employees globally and was valued at
£72million last year.
Just last month, the duo secured a deal with retail giant M&S to sell their ‘Carb Killa’ protein bar range in 984 stores across the country.
Alan came up for the idea for Grenade after several years working in the sports
He said he was frustrated by how poor quality the products were.
He told The Sun: “I’ve been in sports nutrition all my life, ever since work experience
at a gym when I was 14 years old.
“I worked in a supplement distribution business from 1999 importing American-made
products into the UK.
“But the products were getting worse. The ones which tasted ok were full of sugar
and the ones that were good for you tasted like cardboard.”
He decided he could make a better product that was actually appealing to
After his lightbulb moment, Alan and his wife Juliet, who worked in the education
sector before leaving to start Grenade, developed their first product – a weight loss
formula called Thermo Detonator, which is swallowed as a capsule with water.
The product took four long years to get right and – crucially – to trademark, but when
it did they were ready to launch the company.
Today, it is still one of their biggest sellers.
It hasn’t always been an easy road. Alan and Juliet recall a time when they’d poured
their last penny into Grenade.
They even drove a tank into a trade show in the early days because they couldn’t
afford a booth, which is where exhibitors typically display their wares.
But they both always believed it had the potential to be the success it is today.
In more recent years, Grenade has been focusing on cracking the consumer market;
moving away from its health and sports heritage.
It’s a strategy that’s working. Grenade boasts a host of celeb fans – some of whom
become ambassadors for the brand in return for products.
These fans include singer and fitness expert Michelle Heaton, personal trainer and
former star of reality TV show The Only Way is Essex Mike Hassini, British gymnast
and Commonwealth Games medallist Courtney Tulloch, and Hollyoaks actress Jazz
So what’s next for the company? The plan is to keep pushing into the consumer
space competing with big brands.
The idea is to make nutritional and healthier products far more mainstream.
Alan concluded: “We’ve been quite disruptive to the confectionary industry.
“Protein bars used to taste disgusting, but we spent several years creating products
that didn’t taste like protein bars.
“We’ve become a big player in the confectionery space, not just the sports space.
“We’re leading the pack in a space no one knew existed. Now we even have spreads
that compete with Nestle.”
Learning from success
JULIET and Alan’s top tips for starting a business
- You have to work hard. Lots of people love the idea [of starting a business] without thinking about the work.
- But when you start out you get no holidays, no salary. Everything we had went into Grenade
- People need to actually need the product. Lots of people solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
- Hard work is a given… but no one mentions that you have to consistently work hard every day for 10 years – that sorts the men from the boys.
- Building a business takes time. We’ve done it in eight years and that was as fast as we could, but we’ve made a lot of sacrifices.
- Never start a business to make money. Most people see the trappings of success, but you need to do what you love and be fearless.
- Within a year we were trading in the US, which was pretty ballsy. Too many people just talk about doing things.
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