The Entrepreneur: Adam Rossiter, BULK POWDERS

Young entrepreneur Rossiter and co-founder Elliot Dawes turned a £6,000 loan from their parents into a £10m international sports supplement brand- here Rossiter shares his business story...

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Co-founder: Adam Rossiter
Description in one line: UK supplier of sports supplements and nutritional products
Previous companies: None
Turnover: £10m
12 month target: 2015 run-rate of £20m

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • The majority of our sports supplements and nutritional products are manufactured in-house and sold direct to consumer
  • We specialise in completely transparent formulas, with all dosages clearly listed an no proprietary blends
  • Huge range of complementary foods

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Delivering 100% year-on-year growth in a competitive marketplace for the last two financial years with 2015 numbers well on track to make this three consecutive years.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

Sales, margin and conversion – simple!

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

We’ve launched 10 localised websites across Europe in the last 12 months, including Germany, Austria and Poland with another four on the horizon. We are also looking to markets outside of Europe such as the USA.

Revenue has jumped from a small percentage of turnover in Europe to a forecast £7m in 2015.

Describe your growth funding path:

We were a completely self-funded start-up, utilising a £6,000 loan from our parents. We took on a very small amount of bank funding recently to assist with a new production facility costing £700,000 but prior to this the business had grown completely organically through re-investing profits year after year.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Google Analytics is heavily used in our business – the insight it gives on a daily basis is invaluable.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

By 2018 we’d like to be a £100m brand with a presence across Europe, USA and emerging markets such as India and China. This would make us one of the world’s largest sports nutrition companies.

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

Ensuring that every aspect of our business is best in class, whether that be from the ingredients we source to create our supplements through to the service we provide our customers. We have always refused to cut corners and believe that authenticity in business only comes from hard work and transparency. Whilst this has meant our days are longer than the average, we are seeing the rewards of a loyal customer base that believes and trusts our products.

What was your biggest business mistake?

It’s probably not taking on staff at an earlier point in our journey. We single handedly ran the company for the first five/six years with no staff in place whatsoever; wasting time on tasks such as packing boxes, which we should have delegated. On the flip side, we learnt every function within the business inside out, ensuring that we now have realistic expectations as to staff performance in all areas.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

Business rates. With scale they aren’t so much of an issue but for small companies they can be quite prohibitive.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Focusing too much on bottom line to the detriment of growth. You could, however, argue that the reverse is equally true!

How will your market look in three years?

The sports nutrition market is already growing at 10-15% year-on-year so by 2018 it’ll be even more mainstream.

Historically sports nutrition and supplementation has been seen as quite underground but this perception is changing rapidly, particularly with supermarkets giving more shelf space and the rise of high protein convenience foods and drinks.The fact that protein powders are now included in the ONS Basket of Goods demonstrates how much the market has matured and our products have been adopted by mainstream consumers.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. You need to know who they are, what they want and ensure that you have exactly what they are looking for. If your customers are happy then everything else tends to take care of itself.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

Being able to travel the world sourcing new suppliers and researching new markets as part of our job!

Executive education or learn it on the job?

Definitely on the job, although there’s a place for both – particularly at board level.

What would make you a better leader?

The ability to delegate more. It’s easy to want to do everything yourself, particularly if you are a perfectionist, as we are. Sometimes it’s the right call, but more often than not delegation is the best answer.

Business book:

I would love to have time to read!

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