Creating A Supplement Brand During A Global Pandemic

Before we get started: I wanted a way to communicate with those who are supporting hakamount. This newsletter will be infrequent and unscheduled, but hopefully offers some value to those who read. Topics will most likely be related to growing a company, or insights in to supplementation + performance. 

Okay, let's crack on... Creating A Supplement Brand During A Global Pandemic.


The Why

To Improve. To grasp the opportunity. To take advantage of time. To reach my goals. To utilise extra money. To take ownership. To challenge. To be creative. To be proud. To start.

The idea to create hakamount started during the beginning of the UK lockdown in March 2020. I had taken up running as my form of exercise and as we all do, wanted to find the best way to improve (fast!). The first thing I turn to with things like this is nutrition as it’s incredibly important for performance. I did the same thing whilst preparing for my boxing and powerlifting competitions. Running is a little unique as many people like to run early in the morning before eating any foods, and for shorter runs i.e. a 5k this is a fair approach. With that in mind, I turned my focus from carbs, fats and proteins to vitamins in order to identify what advantages I could get there. From the research I did, it was clear some vitamins are almost designed for sports performance (Magnesium, Iron, Zinc etc.) - but the problem was that most multivitamin products had fairly low doses.

Ordinarily, if I couldn’t find the right type of product or supplement for my goal i’d just say “oh well” and persist without it. However, March 2020 wasn’t ordinary - pretty much everything was shut down and I was left with an abundance of time. Time to research, design and contact manufacturers to bring the product in my mind to life. Over time, it dawned on me that I could create a product to help with a variety of goals rather than just ‘helping my running’ - I now had the opportunity to add vitamins to support metabolism and reduce fatigue so I could use it as a daily product rather than sports specific.

 

Trying to come up with 'hakamount'...

Everything being shut down and the government encouraging us to stay inside almost forced me, as someone who's not the most creative person in the world, to really think outside the box - first task: market a product without having a physical unit of it. But I enjoyed the challenge, trying to build a social media presence and a ‘buzz’ without actually having the product. It encouraged me to look into different methods of communication, photography and to start designing my own graphics.

Creating hakamount required me to learn a lot of new skills, but perhaps the most daunting of all was the start. Does anyone know how to start a business on Shopify unless they’ve done it before? Taxes, website, registrations, operations, customer service, sales - so many moving parts to get right. 

But ultimately, those things will never change. If I delay doing this by 5 years, does anything get easier? Probably not. My way of conquering a fear is to approach it head on, the more you do that, the less daunting things seem.

No matter how many years hakamount lives for, the ‘why’s’ will stay constant. Whether I'm selling 30 units or 30,000 I still want people to improve, I still want to be challenged and I will still want to be proud.

The How

hakamount isn’t just about creating products for myself to hit my goals. It’s a brand focused on helping others make the most of every day - whatever their day may consist of. When I created the company, I sat down and looked at the successful supplement competitors to see what they did - as time went on, I realised the brand should be a reflection of my principles and my values - otherwise, what’s so different? 

I didn’t want to create something that just relates to an elite athlete, or just relates to someone who is extremely health conscious - it should be a movement that helps people advance their lives. Because ultimately, I don’t spend all my time playing one sport - so why would I create a product to help me with just that? I play a variety of sports, I want to excel professionally, and to be transparent I just want to feel good! 

I focused intensely to create a product I'm proud of, but another goal is to create a community. A place where people share similar ambitions, interests and passions - and as a team, we can achieve our goals.

Logo design

The What

I decided to launch a multivitamin first because it has a lot of benefits such as being cheap, convenient for the consumer and effective. It’s not a ‘magic pill’ - let’s be honest, nothing is. But it’s a great place to start - if done correctly.

During my research it was clear to me, that for some competitors marketing was more important than the actual product. Many of the highest selling multis are relatively cheap (£3 or less) and sold in most high st shops (Holland & Barrett, Sainsbury’s etc.) or on Amazon. However, they have one thing in common - quality (or lack thereof). These products typically have 40-50 vitamins in their ingredients list, and the consumer thinks that’s a good thing, so they buy - who wouldn’t want to get all those vitamins in one tablet right? Well, every capsule has a limited capacity. If you have 50 vitamins you can only spend a little bit of space on each vitamin. The result is low doses of vitamins like Calcium, Magnesium, D3 etc. almost making them useless! That’s why ours has just 10 vitamins - each chosen with a specific purpose, and dosed accordingly. It also reflects what I mentioned earlier - there’s no point copying what brands have done before.

In terms of next steps, it’s hard to say at this point. There are a lot of moving parts, for example we have just launched so want to gauge demand, there’s no ruling out a second lockdown and we’re still yet to finalise the unspeakable (Brexit). However, I want to solidify our multi as one of the premium products on the market first rather than try and release 10 different products in a year. The focus is, and will always be on quality over quantity.

For now, it is a multivitamin - for the future, it’s a whole lot more.

Thanks,
Josh