The Entrepreneur: Jonathan Relph, Vitl
Vitamins with a personal twist: Vitl deliver the A's B's and C's right to your door with just the right amount of exactly what you need to stay fit and healthy
Founder: Jonathan Relph
Description in one line: Vitl is a personalised nutrition company, providing a simple and convenient way to understand and improve your health with at-home nutrition tests and tailor-made supplements to help you feel your best.
Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:
Vitl provides fully personalised health advice alongside tailor-made nutritional supplements.
We customie our supplements based on rich insights derived from a series of three tests. Based on the combined expertise of an in-house team of health professionals, our AI-powered online consultation gives you an in-depth, holistic analysis of your wellbeing, taking into account your diet and lifestyle alongside how you feel day to day. We provide the option to take and integrate at-home DNA and blood tests to provide further context and accuracy.
Our technology joins up all these data points to fully personalise your health advice and to design supplements specifically for you.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
Our team. Together we’ve built the first company in the world that integrates dietary and lifestyle data with blood and DNA, to create fully personalised supplements. Building out a leading tech proposition and a fully customised supply chain through sheer determination and creativity, when others said it couldn’t be done!
To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?
We now ship or sell throughout the EU and have started further afield with some exciting international partnerships in the pipeline.
What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?
Amazon Web Services (AWS). I think from both an infrastructure and tools perspective, it’s a real enabler for young companies like ours.
Where would you like your business to be in three years?
Creating more products that customers love alongside some exciting plans for growth and internationalisation. We’re also working on quite an ambitious social good plan, and would love to see the company be profitable enough to redirect some of both our human and financial capital to ensure we’re also helping improve the nutrition of those who need it most.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?
Building an entirely new way of interacting with a customer and a fully customised supply chain. Being the first definitely has its advantages, but it also comes with additional challenges and it demands creative solutions!
What was your biggest business mistake?
We made some classics: initially outsourcing development wasn’t a smooth ride! But we learnt our lesson quickly and now have a great in-house team.
Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:
Actually, red tape hasn’t been too much of an issue thus far; in fact, when it comes to supplementation we are advocates of further regulation within the industry with regards to quality standards.
We’ve gone to extreme lengths to make sure our vitamins are the highest quality, with no nasties or binding agents, and we see many high street brands and competitors using cheaper alternatives that the consumer may not be aware of.
What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Making products that customers ‘like’ but don’t ‘love’. It’s easy to stop at ‘like’ but you have to keep going until you create products the customer loves.
How will your market look in three years?
We think more and more people will become aware of the benefits of personalised nutrition and will also use the data in other ways to improve their health and wellbeing.
For example, our DNA test can determine if you’re likely to be low in vitamin D and need extra added to your personalised multivitamin. But it can also see if you are a fast or slow caffeine metaboliser, and therefore shouldn’t be having that second coffee after dinner.
These are both insights we offer now, but we think that using data to understand which lifestyle choices are healthy for each individual will become fully mainstream in the future, particularly as more and more of us take our own an active role in preventative healthcare.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and, if you can, try and find a mentor or coach who can be a sounding board and help you through the ups and downs.
Dry cleaning shirts. I know it probably sounds small, but when you don’t have a lot of spare time, it’s a big deal! I think it’s amongst the best £10 I spend a week!
What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?
To take a long holiday before you start. I think I vaguely remember what a proper holiday is like, but it’s been quite a few years… And it’s not quite the same when you’re always on call!
One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:
On the business side, I use Blinkist book summaries to keep up with new releases, and on the personal side, (in addition to our own Vitl app which I of course can’t do without!) I find Moneybox is a great app for saving and managing finances.