NuBeginnings: Victoria Wills
Company name : NuBeginnings
Founders: Victoria Wills
Based : Ilfracombe, Devon
Staff Numbers : 7 full-time staff and about 40 hypnotists, massage therapists, yoga instructors, hiking guides etc.
Date started : January 1st, 2008
Turnover for 2008: 2008 was £250,000, and already the t/o for 2009 is already £220,000 to March. Customer numbers are up by 300%.
Tell us what your business does
NuBeginnings is the UK’s only boutique bootcamp. A luxury retreat based in a Grade-II listed mansion in Ilfracombe, Devon, we offer specially designed weeks for men and women who want to detox, lose weight and increase general well-being.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Since starting my first diet at the age of 8, controlling my weight has been a constant battle. Over the years my weight fluctuated between 12 and 21 stone, and I even travelled to a weight-loss bootcamp in the USA. While this worked as a short-term solution the weight would steadily creep back on when I returned home.
Determined to make a radical change, I took a sabbatical and travelled to a spiritual retreat in Hawaii, which involved hypnotherapy to confront underlying health issues. In May 2007 I decided to leave my job, and my friends and family, to move to rural Devon to set up a weight-loss retreat which would use hypnotherapy at its heart.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Having visited the American boot camps I knew that there was some real benefit to the boot camp approach, but I wanted to add to the idea and make a more long-term solution for weight-loss. I believe the key is re-educating people about their lifestyle, and so at NuBeginnings we teach people about their body, nutrition, exercise and offer one-on-one nutritional consultations and group cooking demonstrations.
What were you doing before starting up?
I previously studied at Durham University and gained a degree in psychology and computer science. I also have an MBA from the London Business School. My previous role was as a management consultant based in London.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I like the independence of being your own boss and being able to make quick decisions. The ability to change things that are not working is liberating and I always strive to improve the things that are working to ensure the NuBeginnings programme is always changing and reflects the needs of our guests.
How did you raise the money?
The funding for NuBeginnings came mainly from Angel investors and my own savings.
What challenges have you faced how have you overcome them?
Total upheaval was my biggest challenge. Moving to Devon meant I had no support network, no friends or family. I have always lived in central London and moving to Devon was a very big culture shock, as I was used to having everything I needed on my doorstep. Funding the project has also been difficult.
How have you promoted your business?
I have a dedicated PR Agency called PHA Media, and we have welcomed journalists from across the national media to NuBeginnings. As a result we have had a wide range of features and reviews in publications such as the Evening Standard, and Grazia.
Many of our successful graduates from NuBeginnings have also shared their stories in publications such as Red, Prima, Celebs on Sunday and OK! Magazine; and as a qualified hypnotherapist and NLP expert I regularly contribute to health and well-being magazines such as Zest, Natural Health, Cosmopolitan and Health and Fitness.
What has your growth been like?
Originally, I predicted 90 guests in the first year with my business plan, but this was doubled by end December 2008. The response to the programme has been overwhelmingly positive and repeat customers have already been welcomed back onto the programme.
Through the success of NuBeginnings we have also recently launched an interactive diet site, which lets men and women benefit from the great things the bootcamp offers from the comfort of their own home.
What was your first big breakthrough?
The first big breakthrough was in April 2008 when NuBeginnings posted its first profits, thanks to a significantly higher number of guests than predicted in the business plan. The prices were raised by five percent to reflect the exclusivity and great success rates of NuBeginnings and business continues to grow.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Remember that ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist when you are starting a business. Good enough will be what you need to get going
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
NuBeginnings in Devon has been a fantastic success and so my plan is to open two more centres in the UK, and have another abroad. This business really is my passion and I have no desire to exit the business.