As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Snover.
Melissa is an award-winning entrepreneur, registered nutritionist, and self-confessed health fanatic! Melissa first came up with the concept of Nourished when she was travelling back in 2018. As an avid consumer of vitamins for over a decade, she used to take a large bag on her business trips of different pills, tablets, and supplements. On one such occasion, she accidentally dropped the bag all over airport security and had to crawl around in her suit and heels picking them up. She thought there must be a more convenient way to take vitamins, and the idea for Nourished was born.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I was born in New York and lived in PA & Washington DC before coming to Colorado to attend CU Boulder for my undergrad. I then came to the UK to attend Management School at Lancaster and started my first company during my program there at the age of 23.
My first venture in consumer goods came not long after when I created the world’s first vegan allergen free gummy candy brand Goody Good Stuff, which I grew to over 40k stores in under 3 years and sold to Cloetta Plc in 2014.
On the back of the frustrations I had when creating, making and selling the Goody Good Stuff range, primarily around the limitations of mainstream traditional manufacturing techniques, I decided that I wanted to create a way for consumers to make their own products. I started to develop my first 3D printer for food in 2015 which was called the Magic Candy Factory.
The Magic Candy Factory was deployed all over the world and allowed for people to make any candy in their imagination in a matter of minutes but it didn’t have the meaningful global impact I had envisioned for my technology. So, in 2018 I started to work on ways we could apply our patented IPs to make a disruptive positive change in the world of health and wellness.
The concept for Nourished came about because I have personally been interested in nutrition and have been an avid consumer of vitamins and supplements for over a decade. As a busy entrepreneur, I used to travel all over the world and was constantly carrying around different vitamins with me in a Ziploc bag which was extremely inconvenient and unhygienic. On one such occasion, I accidentally dropped my bag of supplements all over the floor in airport security and had to crawl around on the floor in my suit and heels trying to pick them up. I knew there must be an easier way to get my vitamins and nutrients! After that, my team and I sought to find a way to simplify the way we take vitamins and make the combinations 100% customized to the consumer. Of all the things we personalize, our health should be top priority.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When I was pitching one of my first businesses to a large US retail chain, I gave a sales presentation with 29 slides to the buyer who told me afterwards that the industry standard was 3–5 slides. I was so embarrassed — I just wanted to get everything on the page so he would think it was good! It was a great lesson in communication and distilling my message for future opportunities. I quickly learned that your goal in any sales meeting is to get them asking you the questions — they’ll be more comfortable with the knowledge if they’ve asked, rather than being told and it really increases the level of engagement. So now I keep my presentations as concise as possible and that has proven a much more successful model for sales, fund raising and team management.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
‘How to win friends and influence people’ by Dale Carnegie was hugely influential to me when I read it at the start of my career. I have re-read it several times and although some of the lessons it teaches seem like common sense — the refresh is always helpful to me in my personal and professional life. It taught me a lot about how to manage people, negotiate and overcome challenges within my own self. One of my favorite takeaways from the book is about the fact that “People want to live up to a good reputation” it basically sets a principle that if you believe in people and show them that you believe in them — they are much more likely to succeed. I would recommend it to anyone starting out in business or on their own entrepreneurial journey.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
I have had an over developed sense of empathy since I was a child. When I see problems in the world, the market, my own life — it becomes my obsession to try and find a solution. Nothing gives me more purpose and drive than creating new and innovative solutions which make a positive impact in people’s lives. I am passionate about sustainability, personalization and inclusive, natural and vegan ingredients; and the Nourished concept is the embodiment of all that. But we are not stopping there, by expanding and adapting our technology we are also working on ways to allow doctors and health workers to be able to provide better care through personalized medicine and optimizations on clinical trial processes which will lead to a better and more diverse drugs being available to help improve the overall global public health sector.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
When I was developing my first 3D printer in Germany I worked with an incredible team and they had a saying that sticks with me to this day — “Wir werden es tun” which translates to simply “We will do it.” The idea is that it’s not a case of if we will achieve our goal but when, reinforces my confidence in my vision, team and goal. This concept keeps me going when things get rough which they inevitably do and will again. I have had many ups and downs throughout my entrepreneurial career, and many of the setbacks have been because of me not trusting my own instinct and having confidence in myself. This comes with time and experience, but inner dialogue also has a huge part to play. It’s important to celebrate your wins, count your blessings and look back to where you come from to keep that front of mind. Confidence and self-belief are paramount to success in business.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I am American and all of my family live in America, so it has been really difficult not being able to visit then, especially because my mother has recently been through chemotherapy making it even more risky for her to travel or see anyone outside her household. Not being able to hug her and be there with her has been heartbreaking, but my mother’s consistent and resolute positive attitude has been an inspiration to me throughout and I try to embody that as much as I can.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Nourished has a home delivery health product so as far as business models go — we have been extremely grateful to be able to continue to grow and serve our community throughout the pandemic. We have seen a sharp rise in consumer demand for personalized nutrition over the last few months, and as we control our entire UK based supply chain and 3D print each product in demand, we have been lucky enough to be relatively unaffected by external factors such as shipping delays, caused by the pandemic.
However, as we were only 4 months old when the outbreak hit the UK, we were already in a very “fragile” phase of the business and it has been an uncertain time.
We have had to pivot, shift and reassess plans on what feels like an hourly basis, but I am extremely proud of my team’s resilience and dedication. They have remained focused and adapted throughout. As a result of their determination and commitment we are now able to grow and offer new roles to about 10+ people a month which is even more rewarding considering how many great people are being displaced due to the fall out in the job market from the crisis.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
The last 6 months have certainly been a very challenging time for everyone across the globe.
Personally — a lot of my family and friends live in America, so I am used to keeping in touch with them via video calls, email and WhatsApp, in some cases I am actually in more regular contact with them than before the crisis began.
In my organization, I have personally really missed daily face to face interaction with my team both work-related and socially. We have daily team round ups for departmental updates, as well as regular 1:1 wellness checks and lots of different WhatsApp group channels to ensure we all stay connected. We have also been having hilarious Friday afternoon quiz sessions in place of after work drinks to keep up the social aspects of our culture which are really important to all of us.
No one in the world would have wished the crisis to happen but it has, and in order to get through it together, we need to focus on ways we can support each other and finds silver linings wherever we can.
I think that having to focus more on communication and checking in on each other more often has brought some of us closer, and spending time with loved ones in our own household has actually been a really special time.
In addition, as a business, we have all come together to support each other and our local communities. At the start of the pandemic we turned our R&D lab into a facility to make our own hand sanitizer as it was in such short supply, and distributed it to our customers, local care homes, NHS workers and the local council. We also continue to 3D printed PPE and donate it to local care homes and NHS workers to this day.
The creation of these products took extra time and energy from my team and I but it really helped us to feel like we had some control and could make a positive difference in the face of huge unknowns. Helping others and having a sense of community is really important in times like this and enables us to have a sense of purpose and achievement.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
I think businesses that can quickly pivot and adapt their strategies, products and services to the current consumer demand will see the most amount of success in the coming months.
The crisis has accelerated a lot of trends which were already happening like – online shopping, remote working and overall focus on health. The crisis has forced everyone to speed up and narrow in these regards, simply because the other options have been removed in many cases. This can certainly be shocking at first, but I am hopeful it will result in a lot of innovation and better market conditions, choices and solutions going forward.
Ensuring you have a strong online presence and that your marketing messages are sensitive to the current climate are paramount to making it through this challenging time. At Nourished, we had planned to come to the USA to build a production facility this year but as that’s no longer possible – we pivoted and created a new line in our UK factory, expedited shipping options and have recently launched our USA website to offer our product to the US market for the very first time.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
Consumers are certainly much more interested in protecting and caring for their physical and mental health than ever before. The recent lock downs have also given us all time to slow down, reflect on what is important to us and re-focus our priorities. As a result, I hope we see a rise in companies and consumers putting more emphasis on sustainability and protecting our planet. At Nourished we are extremely passionate about caring for the earth, as well as our customer’s health, and are proud that our entire packaging range is 100% plastic free and either home compostable or recyclable. I would love to see a rise in eco-friendly products as a result of our newfound appreciation for our health and the environment.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
We have a lot of exciting developments coming up at Nourished! We are just about to open our Series A funding round and are launching our Nourished Kids range in the next few months. We are also experiencing double digit month on month growth – and are in the middle of a large recruitment drive across all departments to support the rising demands of the business.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
It’s important that we all remain resilient and continue to look out for each other during these challenging times, both professionally and in our personal lives. Despite the uncertainty and difficulties that the pandemic has brought; try to remain positive and look for new opportunities which have a positive halo effect for your employees, family, and community wherever you can.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
When I was growing up and things got challenging for any reason, my parents used to say “If it was easy – everyone would do it.” When you are creating something completely new, whether it be a product, business, new process in your company or even a personal relationship - there are no road maps or case studies to guide you. It can be an extremely lonely and harrowing experience – but if you truly believe in what you are doing and are passionate about the positive change you want to create in the world –you can do anything. It’s actually surprisingly reassuring when things get tough because it often means you are on the right track.
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